Copyright. Supreme Court. Is Fashion protectable?

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Fashion. Copyright.

The Supreme Court ruled on copyright and fashion.  Can fashion be protected by copyright? This landmark copyright case will impact the fashion design industry for decades to come. This case began 10 years ago when Varsity Brands, Inc. sued Star Athletica, LLC for copyright infringement. Both companies supply uniforms and other accessories for sport related events. The lawsuit centered on a copyrighted two-dimensional stripe pattern and colors used on Varsity Brand cheerleading uniforms which they claimed Star Athletica infringed upon.

fashion. copyright.

fashion. copyright.

The case was originally heard by a federal  district court sitting in Memphis, TN in 2014, where Judge Robert Cleland ruled that the designs were utilitarian, and since utilitarian designs are not subject to copyright law, the case was dismissed.

Fashion.

Varsity Brands appealed the ruling and the case went to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, where the district court ruling was reversed in a 2 to 1 decision. Among other findings, the court found that the designs in question could be separated from the utilitarian aspects of the uniform, and that the designs could stand on their own separate from the cheerleading uniforms, thus eligible for copyright protection.

Is Fashion Protected by Copyright?

The case then made its way up to the Supreme Court, where finally, a ruling was announced this Wednesday. Varsity Brands came up victorious, once again.  In short,  Judge Thomas, who delivered the opinion of the Court, affirmed the decision of the Sixth Circuit  Court, holding that

“a  feature  incorporated  into  the  design  of  a  useful  article  is  eligible  for copyright  protection  only  if  the  feature  (1)  can  be  perceived as a two- or three-dimensional work of art separate from the useful article and (2) would qualify as a protectable  pictorial,  graphic,  or  sculptural  work-either  on  its own  or  fixed  in  some  other  tangible  medium  of  expression if  it  were  imagined  separately  from  the  useful  article  into which  it  is  incorporated.”  The Court held that the test was satisfied in this case.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.

 

 

Do you know if you are infringing on a copyright?

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Here are Three Tips to avoid breaking the law with Copyright Infringement:

Copyright infringement

Copyright Infringement

Legal Copyright Infringement is honestly an oxymoron- if it qualifies as Copyright Infringement, then it is, by definition, illegal. This being said sometimes it’s hard to know where the gray area of legal vs. illegal starts.

What is a Copyright?

A Copyright is an exclusive right granted to an artist or author, pursuant to Article 1, §8, Clause 8 of the US Constitution, which protects any original work of art or authorship reduced to a tangible form.

What is Copyright Infringement?

Copyright infringement is a violation of that right; it is THEFT; it’s stealing.  Copyright infringement is using someone else’s copyright protected material without permission, without a license, or without that use falling within an exception, such as fair use or the public domain.

A lot of times, people don’t even realize that what they are doing is illegal, thinking what they are doing is harmless, with no thoughts to the potential consequences. For this reason, I have put together a list of 3 tips for judging whether what you are doing is copyright infringement or not…

Legal Copyright Infringement Tip #1: If it does not belong to you, assume it belongs to someone else.

Legal Copyright Infringement Tip #2
 If it belongs to someone else, assume you need permission or a license to use it.

Legal Copyright Infringement Tip #3 Be aware of ways you can inadvertently infringe someone’s copyright,

    1. Downloading music from the Internet,
    2. Photocopying portions of a book or articles from magazines,
    3. Duplicating testimonial  letters & inserting them in your media kit on web site,
    4. Inserting popular music into your video,
    5. Performing someone’s music in public,
    6. Reproducing a photograph,
    7. Allowing someone to download your copy of software without buying their own license

Until next time, THINK before you USE!

Copyright. Asset Protection.

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copyright puzzleWhether you write books, articles, web content, blogs, movies, shorts, screenplays, choreographic works, take pictures, or shoot videos—you should always be thinking how best to protect your copyrights, your business brand, and any creative content that you upload to the Internet.  Your creative content, your trademarks, your business collectively are your assets, and your kids’ future.  PROTECT them!

ASSET PROTECTION should be your #1 concern. If you don’t take care of your assets, whether through copyright registrationtrademark registrationpatent registration, contracts, or LLCs, trusts, offshore trusts, and other asset protection strategies, you will be sorry later. It’s your job to protect your assets—not someone else’s.

Let’s look at a few more strategies that will help you protect your work, make it harder for someone to steal from you, and if they do—to make it easier for you to sue them.

  1. ALWAYS, place the copyright notice symbol—in the proper format—on all your work (e.g., Copyright 2017 Marion Doe). It sends the message that you claim ownership of your work, PLUS in the event you ever need to sue someone for copyright infringement, your case is stronger.
  1. Register your work with the US copyright office.  A common myth floating around the creative community is that you can protect your copyrighted work by use of the so-called “poor man’s copyright”.  This is a dangerous piece of information in the hands of a content creator. It erroneously suggests that the security you seek through copyright protection, will be had by you mailing a copy of your work to yourself. WRONG!Here’s why: Even though you have a copyright the moment you reduce your original idea to a tangible form, without the benefit of registration it means nothing. One benefit of copyright registration is that you can sue someone for copyright infringement. Without a registration, you cannot sue.Copyright registration is not hard to do, and you can submit an online copyright registration. It’s one of the cheapest and most effective ways to ensure that you get the copyright protection your desire.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.

Website. Copyright Protection.

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Do you have a fabulous website that YOU created, with YOUR original content? Have you thought about protecting that website and its component parts?  If you’ve not given much thought to the protection of your website, now is the time to change your thinking.
website
Your website, like your blog posts, books, articles, videos, screenplays, music, marketing materials other valuable content, in some cases can be protected by copyright.

Copyright for Website.

While the Copyright Office does not register websites, per se, it does allow you to register the copyrightable content that is on your website.  For example, did you know that you can register the source code, the audio visual material (e.g., videos), text, and any visual content (e.g., cartoons, photos)? Don’t wait until someone has copied your website to take action. Register it with the US Copyright Office now.

In order to obtain a copyright registration for your website, here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Your website content MUST be original,
  2. You (not your web designer) must own the content,
  3. If you handle the registration yourself, make sure you do it right or you won’t have a valid registration,
  4. Read Copyright Office Circular 66 carefully
  5. Make sure you use the correct form,
  6. Remember, update your registration whenever you make significant revisions to your website

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.

Copyright? Free Legal Advice. Website Links.

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copyrightBelow is a list of links that can help you with your copyright efforts:

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.