A federal court case involving who has the exclusive rights to a selfie taken by a monkey has settled. As mentioned in Part 4 of my series on Intellectual Property Law Basics, at the trial court level, a federal judge determined that animals cannot own copyrights. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) appealed the ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, but reached an agreement with the photographer, David Slater to settle the lawsuit prior to a ruling on the appeal.

The basis for the photographer’s claim to the rights associated with the photo is that he engineered the photo using his camera and that since copyright law does not recognize ownership rights by an animal, the exclusive rights associated with the image are owned by the photographer’s company. The settlement reportedly requires that the photographer agrees to donate 25% of any future revenue of the images to charities that protect crested macaques (the species of monkey that took the selfie). Continue Reading Copyright Update: Monkey See, Monkey Settle

This is the final installment of a four-part series on the basics of intellectual property law. The goal of this series is to provide individuals and business owners with a primer on the different types of intellectual property in the United States, including patents, trade secrets, trademarks and copyrights. The previous posts in the series include the introduction, a discussion of patents and trade secrets and trademarks.

Copyright can be a tricky subject, but having an understanding of a few general rules can go a long way. Let’s start with a hypothetical:

In May, I went to Colorado to visit my friend Andrew. We went on a hiking trip with a few other friends and Andrew’s dog, Bear. Andrew has trained Bear well to out-hike us all, and to look good doing it. Sensing a great photo opportunity, Bear sat stoically on a rock with a backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. Andrew hands me his iPhone, and I take the following photo:

bear

Bear the Magnificent.

 

Who owns this photo? Andrew? Me? Bear? Read on to find out how copyright law applies to this photo and certain other creative works. Continue Reading IP Law Basics Part 4 – Copyright

This is part three of a four-part series on the basics of intellectual property law. The goal of this series is to provide individuals and business owners with a primer on the different types of intellectual property in the United States, including patents, trade secrets, trademarks and copyrights. The previous posts in the series include the introduction and a discussion of patents and trade secrets.

Trademark protects words, phrases and symbols that identify the source of goods or services

Trademark law protects companies as they develop brand recognition with a particular word, slogan or logo when used in connection with goods or services. In order to be protectable, a trademark must be distinctive, which is determined on a sliding scale by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Examples of trademarks include Nike Inc.’s use of the following marks when used in connection with clothing, shoes and various other goods and services: the name “Nike”, the Nike “Swoosh” logo and the slogan “Just Do It.” Continue Reading IP Law Basics Part 3 – Trademark

This is part two of a four-part series on the basics of intellectual property law. The goal of this series is to provide individuals and business owners with a primer on the different types of intellectual property in the United States, including patents, trade secrets, trademarks and copyrights. For the introduction to the series, click here.

Patents (and sometimes trade secrets) protect inventions and discoveries

A patent creates a legal monopoly on the right to use that particular invention or discovery within the United States for a limited amount of time. Continue Reading IP Law Basics Part 2 – Patents and Trade Secrets

You may have heard the term “intellectual property” (IP for short), but do you know what intellectual property is? The World Intellectual Property Organization defines intellectual property as “creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.” Continue Reading IP Law Basics Part 1 – What is Intellectual Property?

This is the third post in a series about Internet Law. You can find previous posts in the series here.

I listen to podcasts during my commute every day to and from work. A podcast is an audio or video program that is typically provided through an internet subscription service. There are podcasts available on almost every conceivable topic. There is a podcast about creating podcasts. Even President Obama was recently a guest on the popular podcast WTF with Marc Maron.

Since podcasts are hosted in the cloud, and are downloadable on demand, you can listen to them at your convenience. Often times when I find a new show, I’ll go through the back catalog and download dozens of episodes with topics or guests that look interesting.

Here are some of the shows that I listen to regularly and their iTunes subscription links (downloads or streaming versions are also usually available elsewhere on the web):

Startup Podcast – A series about what happens when someone who knows nothing about business starts one and what it’s really like to get a business off the ground.

99% Invisible – A tiny radio show about design, architecture & the 99% invisible activity that shapes our world.

HBR Ideacast – A weekly podcast featuring the leading thinkers in business and management from Harvard Business Review.

The Talk Show with John Gruber – An interview show discussing Apple and technology.

The Tim Ferriss Show – Tim Ferriss is a self-experimenter and bestselling author. In this show, he deconstructs world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, chess, pro sports, etc.), digging deep to find the tools, tactics, and tricks that listeners can use.

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History – The unconventional Dan Carlin takes his outside-the-box way of thinking and applies it to the past. Was Alexander the Great as bad a person as Adolf Hitler? What would Apaches with modern weapons be like? Will our modern civilization ever fall like civilizations from past eras?

Lawyerist Podcast – A weekly show about lawyering and law practice.

Are you interested in creating your own podcast? Were you asked to be a guest on a podcast? Just curious about the legal issues surrounding podcasts? Below is a brief summary of some of the important legal issues that podcasters may encounter. Continue Reading Podcasts and the Law

iStock_000035585824_SmallAs a lawyer who blogs who is interested in the law as it pertains to bloggers, answering this question seems like a good place to start for a series of posts on Internet Law. The answer to the above question, as you might imagine, depends on the facts and circumstances of each individual case.

In order to determine who owns a blog post or other work of authorship, copyright and contract law are typically implicated. Copyright law protects a writing from the time it is created in a fixed form, such as written on a page or in an electronic document. Only the author of the work or a subsequent transferee who obtains rights from the author can claim copyright, with one exception – “works made for hire”.

Section 101 of the federal Copyright Act defines a “work made for hire” as follows:

Continue Reading Who Owns This Blog Post?