On May 18, 2023, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of famed rock photographer Lynn Goldsmith against the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.’s (AWF), in a long-awaited decision impacting fair use under Section 107(1) of the Copyright Act. The opinion written by Justice Sotomayor, in which Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Barrett and Jackson joined, held that the “purpose and character” of AWF’s commercial use of Warhol’s portraits of Prince shared the same commercial purpose of the original photograph taken by Ms. Goldsmith and, as a result, did not constitute fair use. The Court’s decision affirmed the ruling of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that the Warhol work was derivative of the original, and noted that “the new expression may be relevant to whether a copying use has a sufficiently distinct purpose or character” but that factor was not dispositive by itself. The Court found that the Warhol Foundation’s licensing of the Orange Prince to Conde Nast did not have a sufficiently different purpose as the Goldsmith photograph because both were “portraits of Prince used in magazines to illustrate stories about Prince.”Continue Reading Supreme Court Finds Warhol’s Commercial Licensing of “Orange Prince” to Vanity Fair Is Not Fair Use and Infringes Goldsmith’s Famed Rock Photo
Generative AI (GAI) applications have raised numerous copyright issues. These issues include whether the training of GAI models constitute infringement or is permitted under fair use, who is liable if the output infringes (the tool provider or user) and whether the output is copyrightable. These are not the only legal issues that can arise. Another GAI issue that has arisen with various applications involves the right of publicity. A recently filed class action provides one example.Continue Reading Celebrity “Faces Off” Against Deep Fake AI App Over Right of Publicity
On March 16, 2023, the U. S. Copyright Office (USCO) launched a new AI Initiative to examine the copyright law and policy issues raised by artificial intelligence (AI), including the scope of copyright in works generated using AI tools and using copyrighted materials in AI training. According to the USCO: “This initiative is in direct response to the recent striking advances in generative AI technologies and their rapidly growing use by individuals and businesses.” It is also a response to requests from Congress and the public.Continue Reading Copyright Office Artificial Intelligence Initiative and Resource Guide
The harm caused to brands by counterfeiting goes far beyond loss of sales or profits. Fake goods jeopardize public health and safety when a brand’s trademark is applied to a sub-standard and potentially harmful product. This is especially hazardous for counterfeit medical items, mechanical parts, and food products, to name a few. What is more, the reputational damage inflicted by low-quality products can be devastating.
Continue Reading Practice Tips for Combating Counterfeiters: An Action Plan for Brands, Manufacturers and Retailers
Starting this month, social media influencers and other authors of online content can take advantage of a new group copyright registration option for short online works such as blog entries, social media posts and web articles. Authors could even register their own comments to a social post as separate copyrightable works in certain situations.
Continue Reading Easier Copyright Registration Coming for Blogs and Social Media Posts
PART 1: IP ISSUES CURRENTLY PENDING BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT
In the first part of our series, we briefly summarize the intellectual property issues that the Supreme Court has already agreed to address in 2020. In particular, we provide a brief overview and key takeaways for the Supreme Court’s consideration of:
- Whether adding “.com” to a generic mark creates a protectable trademark;
- The scope of appeals from IPR proceedings;
- The ability to copyright software interfaces;
- Requirements for recovering an infringer’s profits in trademark cases;
- State sovereign immunity from copyright infringement claims; and
- Copyright protection for state law annotations.
The Second Circuit issued a remarkable decision on termination rights under Sections 203 and 304(c) of the Copyright Act that seemingly, whether knowingly or otherwise, limits the Act’s extraterritorial reach. Ennio Morricone Music Inc. v. Bilio Music Group Ltd., Second Circuit, No 17-3595-cv, decided August 21, 2019 (“Morricone II”). The foregoing provisions of the Copyright Act allow authors to terminate grants after a certain stated period of years, generally after 35 years for grants made by an author. This termination right is unavailable to works-made-for-hire. Identifying the “author” is critical. If “for hire,” the “author” is the employer or commissioning party, and the individual creator, or his or her statutory heirs, may not terminate.
Continue Reading Italian Film Composer “Scores” for Authors
On March 4, 2019, the United States Supreme Court held unanimously that “a copyright claimant may commence an infringement suit … when the Copyright Office registers a copyright.” Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wallstreet.com, LLC. (Slip. Op. at p. 1 (syllabus)). The Court also held unanimously that, upon registration of the copyright, “a copyright owner can recover for infringement that occurred both before and after registration.” Id. This decision resolves a long-standing circuit split between the application approach, which allowed a copyright owner to sue for infringement upon submission of a copyright application, and the registration approach, which allows an infringement suit to proceed only after the Copyright Office granted the registration.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Holds that a Copyright Claimant May Commence an Infringement Suit Only After the Copyright Office Registers the Copyright
Growing frustration in the fashion community regarding weak or non-existent intellectual property laws has finally caught the attention of some nations. Nigeria is one nation that currently is trying to alleviate this frustration by reforming its intellectual property laws. This reform is driven, in part, because, Lagos, Nigeria has quickly risen as a fashion hub, and has been compared with such fashion centers as London, Paris, Milan, and New York. Nigerian designers have recently experienced great global success and visibility. For example, Amaka Osakwe has been pushing the limits of Nigerian fashion and has gained the attention of fashionistas in the United States and abroad. In 2014, she was invited to the White House by Michelle Obama, an admirer of her work, and her “Maki Oh” designs have been worn by Lupita Nyongo and other A-list celebrities. Last year, Ms. Osakwe was named a LVMH Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy Finalist, placing her among the most notable young fashion designers in the world today. Other talented Nigerian designers include Duro Olowu, Deola Sagoe, Lisa Folawiyo, and Lanre DeSilva-Ajayi. As these designers continue to gain worldwide recognition, they must protect their designs from infringement both within Nigeria and globally.
Continue Reading An Uphill Battle Protecting Fashion Designs In Nigeria and Abroad
A few months ago, we brought to your attention a case initiated by The Turtles, seeking royalties in New York for the unauthorized performance of their pre-1972 sound recordings. In that decision, the Court of Appeals of New York decided, on a question certified to it by the Second Circuit, that New York state law did not recognize a public performance right in pre-1972 sound recordings. We observed that other courts considering this issue, most notably the Supreme Courts of California and Florida (likewise on certified questions respectively from the Ninth and 11th Circuits) may decide likewise, namely, that under their own state laws, there is no public performance right in pre-1972 sound recordings. We now have the most recent pronouncement from the Florida Supreme Court, handed down on October 26, 2017, confirming our observation by failing to find a public performance right in pre-1972 sound recordings under Florida state law. The Court found that Florida never recognized such a right and that it would be inappropriate for a state court to create a new common law right that should normally be the province of the legislature.
Continue Reading Florida Now Follows New York to Find No Common Law Public Performance Right For Pre-1972 Sound Recordings