DMCA Takedown Notices: Never Enough, Always Too Much

picture1By Ari Robbins

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) takedown notices are headed to the Supreme Court where they could themselves be facing a takedown. These notices are issued outside of a court process and are supposed to warn online hosts that content on their websites might constitute copyright infringement. Per the Ninth Circuit decision that is headed to the Court, Lenz v. Universal Music Corp., the sender of a takedown notice must have a subjective belief that material related to a notice is not fair use. Imposing such a standard has far reaching implications for all senders  and recipients of DMCA takedown notices.

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Courtroom Theatrics Find New Meaning as Hamilton Sues for Copyright Infringement

hamiltonBy CaroLea Casas

Lin Manuel Miranda’s musical Hamilton is a hit – it’s on Broadway, a national tour, and most likely on your neighbor’s favorite playlist after the soundtrack’s historic debut on music charts.

Even people who have never seen the production know every word to all forty-six songs.  First Lady Michelle Obama herself was quoted by the New York Times as saying “[Hamilton is the] best piece of art in any form that I have ever seen in my life.” With a cast composed predominately of people of color, Hamilton brings a fresh voice, perspective, and representation to an age-old art form. The show is no longer just a production – it is a brand that fans love; and one that its copyright holders are zealously guarding. Continue reading

Screenshot Through The Heart, And Richard Prince’s To Blame

Rasta.jpgBy 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.

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Fair Use: YouTubers Claim Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Against Them is a Goof

KleinsBy 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

Copyright Beams: Protecting Artists Work on Social Media

KanyeBy 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.

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