Tsibouris & Associates Home | Practice Areas | Attorneys | Contact | Publications | Clients | Blog Home

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Trademark infringement anyone

While writing my previous post on the American Photo article, I went to my address bar and typed in americanphoto.com. This took me to one of those infamous search sites and upon closing the browser asked whether I want to make searching.net my home page. Knowing better, I said "no," thus saving me a night of spyware cleaning.

By the way, American Photo's site is located at
www.americanphotomag.com. I wonder if American Photo has considered brining a UDRP proceeding against these folks.


Sometimes overexposure is costly

The May/June 2005 issue of American Photo tells the story of photographer Naomi Harris and her website. She was hit with a $3,000 bill in overage charges after a popular soft-core porn blog misappropriated one of her images and linked to her site.

Blogs have become ever-more commercialized - Fleshbot, for instance, is a profitable site and is one of several owned by Gawker Media - and photographers have begun to complain in industry forums about instances in which their images have been used by various sites without permission. The copyright act protects such usage if it can be said to comment on the imagery as a work of art.
Okay, I'll bite. It is a little more complicated than that. Yes, there is such a thing as "fair use" (17 USC Sec. 107) in the copyright act.

[T]he fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.
Section 107 provides four guiding factors for a court to use in determining whether a use is fair or not:

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

You know lawyers, the answer to the the fair use question is not easy. Here's some resources for you to consider:


Read Your Contracts

Authors, when negotiating that book deal, make sure you read the contract and see what rights you're giving the publisher. The New York Daily News reports on the lawsuit between Judith Regan and porn star Jenna Jameson [safe link ; )]. Apparently, Regan's contract with Jameson gave Regan the "exclusive right" to negotiate with TV networks on any project involving Jameson. Jameson counters that the deal was limited to negotiations with the Fox network. Jameson, without Regan, is negotiating with A&E to do a reality show on Jameson's life.


Tuesday, April 12, 2005

I'm Just A Bill - The "Hidden" Story

Those of us in our 30s remember watching Saturday morning cartoons on ABC and watching those catchy and educational 3 minute educational vignettes from School House Rock. One such vignette was I'm Just A Bill which tells the story of how a Bill becomes law.

Here's how the song documents the "idea" for a Bill:

Well, I got this far. When I started I wasn't even a bill, I was just an idea. Some folks back home decided they wanted a law passed, so they called their local Congressman, and said, "You're right, there oughta be a law. "Then he sat down and wrote me out and introduced me to Congress. And I became a bill, and I'll remain a bill until they decide to make me a law.
What the song left out was the role of lobbyist. But, the Wall Street Journal fills us in today with a story (paid subscription required) on Starbucks' fledgling lobbying efforts, that recently won millions of dollars worth of tax breaks for the company.