By Chike Eze
Generally, the author of a work owns the copyright in the work. However, an exception to the rule is that the employee or hiring party for whom the work was prepared is considered the owner of the work. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York applied the “instance and expense” test in Urbont v. Sony Music Entertainment to determine whether the Iron Man Theme, created by Jack Urbont (“Urbont”) at Marvel’s request, was a work made for hire. Continue reading
By Chike Eze
Gone are the days when only major studios had a monopoly on manufacturing “celebrities.” YouTube has ushered in a new category – the self-made “celebrity YouTuber.” Michelle Phan is an extremely popular YouTuber who is well known for her entertaining videos on how to put on different types of makeup. She currently has more than eight million subscribers, and her popular “Barbie Transformation Tutorial” video has over sixty million views. A far cry from Gangnam’s two billion views, but impressive nonetheless. Ms. Phan generates revenue by monetizing her videos and endorsing various products in her videos. And just like other famous YouTubers, she uses popular copyrighted songs as background music in her videos that are distributed to millions via YouTube.
In July 2014, Ultra Records, LLC (“Ultra”) brought a copyright infringement suit against Ms. Phan in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California. Ultra alleged that Ms. Phan had engaged in a “wholesale infringement” of Ultra’s musical compositions and recordings, citing 50 instances of Ms. Phan’s direct copyright infringement. Ultra further stated that Ms. Phan had profited from using its artists’ tracks and compilations. Consequently, Ultra sought $150,000 in statutory damages for each instance of copyright infringement, and demanded an injunction against Ms. Phan’s continued use of its copyrighted material. Continue reading
By Yayi Ding
On July 27th, 2015, Chinese smartphone manufacturer OnePlus unveiled its second-generation smartphone, the “OnePlus Two.” This was a highly anticipated launch, because OnePlus’ first device, the OnePlus One, took the smartphone industry by storm just over a year ago. The OnePlus One offered the kind of high-end specs found in today’s elite smartphones, but for just a fraction of the price. Consequently, OnePlus has sold over 1 million OnePlus One smartphones thus far – no small feat for a new start-up based out of southern China. But, due to a series of behind-the-scenes legal issues, the OnePlus Two will not offer the popular operating system found in its predecessor, Cyanogen OS, but instead will feature OnePlus’ own operating system: Oxygen OS. This difference may be critical to the OnePlus Two’s future success. Continue reading
By Lydia Ansari
On May 9th, the Federal Circuit ruled in Oracle v. Google that some APIs, or software application programming interfaces, are subject to copyright. Unless Google can successfully assert a fair use defense on remand, Google will have to pay Oracle for its use of the Java API in Android. The ruling draws disapproval from IP advocates and software developers alike, who predict it will have a stifling impact on innovation.
If the ruling stands, software companies will be able to copyright some aspects of their APIs. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, warns that “allowing a party to assert control over APIs means that a party can determine who can make compatible and interoperable software, an idea that is anathema to those who create the software.” Many developers agree that making APIs subject to copyright law would significantly limit their ability to build compatible programs and build on top of APIs. Continue reading