The High-touch Legal Services® Blog…for Startups!

© 2009-2019 Dana H. Shultz, Attorney at Law

Design Copyright Explained

Copyright Office logo fo Dana Shultz post about design copyrightMany people are familiar with copyrights for literary and musical works, movies, and the like. This post is about a different type of copyright, the design copyright.

Title 17, Chapter 13 of the United States Code contains the relevant statutes.

Design Copyright Elements

17 USC Section 1301(a)(1) identifies the basic elements of a design copyright (emphasis added): (more…)

Creativity and Copyright

Copyright Office logo fo Dana Shultz post about creativity and copyrightCreativity is important socially and aesthetically. It also is required for a work to be copyrightable.

The Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices is the administrative manual of the Register of Copyrights. The Compendium concerns Title 17 of the United States Code and Chapter 37 of the Code of Federal Regulations. (more…)

HTML Code Receives Copyright Protection

An example of simple HTML codeHTML (HyperText Markup Language) is the standard markup language that is used to create web pages. In a recent decision, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California determined that HTML code may receive copyright protection.

The case is Media.net Advertising FZ-LLC v. Netseer, Inc. Plaintiff Media.net alleged, among other causes of action, copyright infringement. (more…)

What is the Origin of the Copyright Symbol (©)?

Logo for Quora, where Dana Shultz answered a question about the copyright symbol "©"This post about the origin of the copyright symbol (©) is based on my answer to a Quora question. See Why are the symbols of “©” and “®” used to identify copyrights and registered trademarks?

Copyright Symbol as Part of Copyright Notice

The copyright symbol “©” can be part of a copyright notice under current copyright law. See 17 USC Section 401(b). (For more information about copyright notices, see Copyright Protection in Once Easy Lesson .) (more…)

Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement – Two Sides of the Same Coin

Logo for Quora, where Dana Shultz answered a question about plagiarismThis post compares plagiarism and copyright infringement. It is prompted by a Quora question that I answered several months ago. (See Have your ideas or works ever been plagiarized? What happened?)

Plagiarism Defined

Plagiarism is the wrongful appropriate on another’s work and presenting it as one’s own. One typically thinks of plagiarism occurring in academia or journalism. However, as discussed below, it can occur in other professions, too.

Copyright Infringement Defined

The holder of the copyright in a work has certain exclusive rights with respect to that work. These include (as applicable) the rights to reproduce, distribute, publicly perform, publicly display, and make derivative works of the work. Copyright infringement is use of a work, without permission of the copyright holder, that infringes on one of those exclusive rights.

(more…)

Is a Copyright Notice with Multiple Years Legitimate?

Circle-C symbol representing a copyright notice with multiple yearsWe all have seen a typical copyright notice (e.g., “Copyright 2013 Anyhow, Inc.”) countless times. However, every once in a while, someone will see a copyright notice with multiple years (e.g., “2010-2013”) and will wonder whether it is legitimate.

As is explained in Copyright Protection in One Easy Lesson, 17 USC Section 401 states that a copyright notice must contain three elements.

  1. The symbol © (the letter C in a circle), the word “Copyright”, or the abbreviation “Copr.”
  2. The year of first publication.
  3. The name of the copyright owner.

(more…)

Corporate Officer Can Be Personally Liable for Copyright Infringement

Blue Nile logo

In Blue Nile v. Ideal Diamond Solutions, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington held that co-defendant Larry Chasin, founder and an officer of defendant IDS, was personally liable for infringement of plaintiff Blue Nile’s copyrighted images, even though Chasin claimed he had no role in putting infringing images on websites and he did not know the images were infringing.

Blue Nile is an online jewelry and diamond retailer. Chasin founded and operated IDS to create websites for brick-and-mortar jewelers to help them compete online. The websites included some of Blue Nile’s copyrighted images.

(more…)

Copyright Infringement Explained

Logo of the United States Copyright Office, symbolizing this post about copyright infringement

I recently realized that I have referred to copyright infringement in quite a few posts. However, I neglected to define that term. It is time to correct that oversight.

Copyright Infringement Defined

Generally, infringement occurs when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner. I.e., copyright infringement is a violation of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights. (See Copyright Protection in One Easy Lesson.) (more…)

How Old Can a Copyrighted Work Be?

Cover of Time Magazine published March 3, 1923

Cover of Time Magazine published March 3, 1923

Sometimes people want to know whether a work is so old that it it can be copied without any possibility of infringing anyone’s copyright. This post provides the answer (in the United States).

Before January 1, 1979 – when then-existing copyrights were automatically extended to 95 years from the end of the year in which the copyright was secured – copyrights were in effect for 28 years, with extension, if requested, for a second 28-year period (total of 56 years).

So the earliest a work could have been copyrighted (which, at that time, required publication with a copyright notice) and still received the automatic extension was 56 years before January 1, 1979, i.e., January 1, 1923. The copyright for such a work would expire on December 31, 2018 (after 95 years).

(more…)

Copyright: Why You Need Presence of Mind about Present Assignments

One page from a calendar

In Independent Contractors: How to Assign Copyrights, I provided sample language for an independent contractor’s assignment of copyrights to a client. This post explains why the present assignment aspect of that language is critical.

Here (with emphasis added) is the relevant portion of the pivotal sentence:

Contractor hereby irrevocably assigns, transfers and conveys to Client all of its right, title and interest in and to the Deliverables, including complete, unconditional and worldwide ownership of all intellectual property rights in any draft or final version of the Deliverables.

(more…)