Two Cheers for Copyright

Some people are cheering and some people are shrugging in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision last week in Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands.[1] The Court held that designs for Varsity Brands’ cheerleading uniforms may be protected as copyrighted works against unauthorized copying by its upstart rival, Star Athletica. Cheering, because the decision appears to put wind in the sails of those who would like to see expanded IP…

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Fair Use and Google: Ten Years After

(Ten Years After, I’d Love to Change the World) Digesting the fair use reading in The Authors Guild v. Google in the Second Circuit, I went back to some things that I wrote when the case was filed, ten years ago, in 2005. What did I get right, what did I get wrong, and where and how is the jury (proverbially) still out? From Google Sued; Books Disappearing (at The Conglomerate):…

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Working Fair Use

Are there tensions in recent fair use cases regarding methods? Fair use analysis has traditionally and conventionally posed a set of very “work-specific,” nuanced questions. For at least 15 years or so, since the rise of the original Napster technology (and really, at least since “librarying” was at issue in the original Betamax litigation), social practices and information technologies have raised the question of large-scale alleged fair uses. Yet copyright…

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Abbott and Costello, Copyright, and Me

This report — “Abbott & Costello Heirs Sue Over Lifting of ‘Who’s on First’ Routine” by @HandtoGodBway — reminded me that many years ago, I borrowed the spirit of “Who’s on First?” for a short and silly piece about copyright law. The piece got published but never made its way to the unrarefied air of the Internet. I’ve corrected that omission. Download “What’s My Copy Right?,” 48 J. Copyright Soc’y…

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Changing Rhetorics of Copyright

People with a taste for the finer details of copyright law pay attention to the language in notices of claimed copyright, the rhetoric of claims to enforce software licenses, and related things. Book publishers, for example, routinely insert copyright notices that forbid any and all reproduction of any and all material, sometimes explicitly allowing for selections used in a review, but sometimes not. More than a decade ago, Alchemy Mindworks…

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