By Gwen Wei
Earlier this year, three artists separately sued appropriation careerist Richard Prince for copyright infringement. The works in question? Photographs with valid and registered copyrights—each framed in an Instagram screenshot by Prince.
Sound familiar? The incidents seem to be an ugly throwback to 2015, when Prince took screenshots of multiple photographs from the Instagram account of pin-up brand Suicide Girls, printed them, and sold each print for $90,000. But none of this is new ground for Prince. Such incidents define his forty-year career: rephotographing the photos of others, reprinting J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye with his own name substituted for the author’s, or writing out lines out of joke books for display at art galleries.
By Jeff Bess
YouTube has come a long way in the decade since its founding as the Internet’s hub for one-off viral clips and cat videos. As of last month, YouTube reported that it reaches more viewers in the coveted 18-49 age group during primetime than the top ten TV shows combined. This is due in large part to the vibrant community of original content creators – some of whom individually drive enough traffic to make themselves millionaires – that host and share their videos on YouTube’s platform.
YouTube’s explosive growth as commercial and expressive medium has naturally brought with it a greater likelihood of legal disputes, particularly with respect to copyrights. Take for instance popular YouTubers Ethan and Hila Klein, the couple behind the comedy channel H3H3 Productions. They have built a following of nearly two million subscribers by making videos commenting on and making fun of other YouTubers’ videos. Continue reading
By Alex Bullock
When Kanye West announced the development of his seventh studio album in March of 2015 (what would eventually become The Life of Pablo, released earlier this year) Nick Stokes and Eric Swanson, two Portland-based artists and Kanye fans, were inspired to make something to commemorate the occasion. The result was What ‘Ye Is It?, a custom-animated calendar that features a looping animation for each day of the week, inspired by West’s collection of works. After its creation, various media outlets linked to Stokes’ and Swanson’s website (for a list of the coverage, see here).
Fast forward to June 8 of this year: Finish Line, the athletic shoe and apparel retailer, posted the animation to their Instagram account in honor of West’s 39th birthday. However, the post credited music and lifestyle magazine The FADER for the work. The FADER posted about Stokes’ and Swanson’s work on May 14, 2015, but it is not the author of the work. Even after being notified by the authors of their mistaken attribution and their unauthorized use of the work, Finish Line has not made any effort to resolve the issue.
By Chike Eze
The Copyright Act balances granting exclusive rights to copyright owners on the one hand, and limiting those rights through several exceptions, including “fair use,” on the other. A creator of an unauthorized derivative work may escape a copyright infringement claim by successfully asserting a defense of “fair use.” However, the question is whether the creator may also claim copyright protection for the unauthorized derivative work.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals answered this question in the affirmative. In Keeling v. Hars, the Second Circuit Court interpreted Section 103 of the Copyright Act to determine whether an unauthorized work, within the bounds of fair use, may itself be protected by copyright. The Keeling court held that copyright law provides that an unauthorized but lawful “fair use work may itself merit copyright protection.”
By Yayi Ding
The Crying Michael Jordan Meme has struck again! However, this time it has struck at the expense of Jordan’s own alma mater, the University of North Carolina (UNC). Earlier this month, the annual NCAA championship game ended in a dramatic fashion, as Villanova hit a buzzer-beating shot to end UNC’s title hopes. And almost immediately, the internet responded, with none other than the wildly popular Crying Michael Jordan Meme. The Crying Michael Jordan Meme has become an internet sensation in recent years, but can its use ever lead to legal troubles? Continue reading