Bluebook and Baby Blue: Copyright Conundrums and Trademark Troubles

bluebookBy Kiran Jassal

Law students across the United States are familiar with “The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation,” prepared by the Harvard Law Review Association. Recently, the manual’s copyright and trademark protections have come into question. More specifically, the Engelberg Center on Innovation Law and Policy at New York University joined Public Resource to publish “Baby Blue,” a public domain version of The Bluebook. Publishers of Bluebook vehemently defend their work, claiming copyright and trademark infringement. Professor Christopher Sprigman, of NYU Law, explained Baby Blue’s open access objective in an interview with the NYU Journal of Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law. To show support for the project, Yale Law students have started a petition, stating Baby Blue “will ensure that no one…is denied access to these rules of legal citation”. The question remains, however, whether Baby Blue infringes on any of Bluebook’s publisher’s intellectual property rights. Continue reading

A New Co-Author to Anne Frank’s Diary

Anne FrankBy Binh Vong

One of the most widely-read books of the 20th century, Anne Frank’s diary gives us a glimpse of World War II through the details of the years when the Frank family hid from the Nazis in the attic of a factory in Amsterdam. Anne’s father, Otto Frank, compiled the diary and gave the copyright of the book to Anne Frank Fonds (“the Foundation”), a Swiss foundation. Because Anne Frank died in 1945, under the copyright law of the European Union, the copyright to the book in Europe was originally set to end this upcoming January 1st, 70 years after her death.

In a move to extend the copyright of the book, the Foundation recently announced that Otto Frank co-authored the book, which would extend the copyright of the book to 70 years after Otto Frank’s death in 1980. This gives the Foundation exclusive rights over the book until 2050 in Europe. The copyright to Anne Frank’s diary in the United States does not end until 2047, 95 years after the book was first published in the United States in 1952. Continue reading

Happy Birthday to Everyone

happybdayBy Danielle Olero

Cake, ice cream, presents, and a chorus of “Happy Birthday to You” has been a longstanding tradition for many to mark the passage of time in a person’s life. Although trivial to those who sing the song within their household, this eight note song has been the source of millions of dollars of revenue for the companies who have collected royalties from the song over the past eighty years.

In 2013 Jennifer Nelson, an independent filmmaker, intended to use the song in her documentary. She filed a putative class action against Warner/Chappell, who have claimed to hold the rights to the song since 1988. During the last two years, artists have been watching this case with great anticipation. Rights to the song could range from $1,500 to $5,000 or more for the use in films. Continue reading