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Characters and Copyright Protection

Gerald M. Levine, co-author It would be unusual in a work of any genre for every part to be protected by copyright law even though the whole work bears the symbol ©. Only when an infringement is alleged and challenged does it become apparent that the phrase “original works of authorship” (Section 102(a) of the […]

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Derivative Works: Who Owns What?

Courts have recently been busy dealing with the puzzling concepts of derivative works, fair use, and transformation. “Transformation” is the underlying principle of derivative works created either by the author or licensees with the author’s permission; or created without the author’s permission legally under the fair use doctrine. There are two sets of rights granted […]

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Celebrating 305 Years of Statutory Copyright Law

Gerald M. Levine, Co-author Rights in Literary Property The United States Copyright Office and many people on social media, particularly on Twitter, have been celebrating the enactment of the first national copyright act in this country that President Washington signed into law on May 31, 1790. The 1790 Act was largely adopted from an earlier […]

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Authors and Domain Names

Copyright law is the principal system for protecting authors’ creations. It confers rights without requiring any other action, but in order to fully benefit from the law authors and parties to whom copyrights have been assigned or sold have to record their copyrights with the Copyright Office. Recordation is the key to protection. Once that […]

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The Role of Investors in Marketing Literary Works

The following article first appeared in Independent Publisher. The full text can also be read in full below. Co-Author Gerald M. Levine Copyright adheres to creative works when they are fixed in tangible mediums of expression for the first time. At the moment of fixation authors own and control their works in every respect, but […]

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Internet Subscription Libraries

Co-author, Gerald M. Levine New Internet subscription libraries are offering to “lend” digital books based on subscription models that brick and mortar lending libraries in England invented in the 19th Century.  For $X dollars per time period subscribers gain access to vast collections of backlist and self-published books at less cost and with none of […]

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Terminating Exclusive Licenses

Co-author, Gerald M. Levine Terminating exclusive licenses after the passage of time is a statutory right. The Copyright Act of 1976 decrees that the author shall have a right exercisable only once for each separate literary work under exclusive license and for a brief window of time after 35 years from the date of a […]

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Is Publishing Under Threat of Extinction?

C0-author Gerald M. Levine, Esq. The traditional world of publishing is under threat of extinction; at least, that is the chatter on the Internet and news stories . The current message forecasts a grim future. The evidence is all around us. There is a steady diet of gloom from news reports, court filings by the […]

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Author’s Right to Compensation for Intellectual Production

Co-author, Gerald M. Levine Authors’ incomes generally come from royalties and licensing revenues for works protected by copyright. He or she has a right to compensation for intellectual production.  Section 102(a) of the U.S. Copyright Act states that “original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression” are protected by copyright.  By definition […]

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Wariness in Granting Rights to Aggregators

Originally published as a Guest Blog on Writer Beware® September 7, 2012 Co-author, Gerald M. Levine There is a reason for authors to be wary in granting permission for their blogs to be published by aggregaters. Authors create the content blog aggregators need for their web collections. Each gains in different ways. For the aggregator, […]

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Exclusive Rights for Exploiting Literary Works

Co-author, Gerald M. Levine Publishers expect and demand exclusive rights for exploiting literary works. When lawyers talk about “standard” clauses and courts refer to publishing contracts as “standard agreements” it is not to suggest that there is a standard form such as we expect for certain real estate transactions. What we mean by “standard” is […]

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Paying Authors for Their Work

Co-author Gerad M. Levine Whether money is the motive for writing – “[n]o man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money” (Samuel Johnson) – or only one of the rewards for those lonely hours of composition, how does the author get paid? Before she reaches the “royalties” clause in her publishing contract she has […]

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Licensing Work for a Collection

Co-author Gerald M. Levine Including a work in a collection or compilation depends on who owns the copyright and the licensing terms if the work is owned by the author. Compilations of like works or genres may be a goal eagerly sought by authors. Collections may be under a publisher’s control.  Internet compilations may be […]

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Literary Agent’s Entitlement to Commission

Co-author, Gerald M. Levine Literary agents stand in relation to authors as adventurers to booty: payday depends on placing literary works and licensing rights. Their entitlement to commission is contingent. They earn their commissions by placing authors’ works with publishers and promoters capable of exploiting their economic value. Commission is spread over the economic life […]

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Preparing for Reversion at Contract Inception

Co-author Gerald M. Levine Publishers typically offer an unsatisfactory reversion of rights clause so it is prudent to negotiate for an even playing field on this issue. Assuring author has a genuine right of reversion in the event her work goes out of print must be a high priority, particularly in an electronic environment where […]

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Unintended Perils of Collaboration from Ambiguous and Incomplete Agreements

Co-author Gerald M. Levine Literary collaboration is a marriage of convenience. There are perils in ambiguous and incomplete agreements. The parties have to preliminarily agree to their separate and joint responsibilities for the completion and submission of their work. What they think they know and can trust about each other is likely to be more […]

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Protecting Ideas under an Implied Contract Theory

Co-author Gerald M. Levine Authors ask whether they can protect their ideas by which they mean the conception rather than the expression. This suggests a misappropriate theory rather than infringement of copyright. The answer is that copyright law protects ideas only to the extent they are organized and fleshed out in expressive language. Some protection […]

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Taking Down an Infringing Copy from the Internet

Co-author Gerald M. Levine There is a statutory remedy for removing an infringing copy from the Internet. It can be taken down. The principal legal mechanisms for protecting copyright of works copied on the Internet without permission and in violation of an author’s copyright is laid out in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The major […]

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Copyright for Compilations and Collections

Authors are generally well attuned to copyright for their separately standing works and the consequences of failing to register, but less so when it comes to shorter works accepted for publication in compilations such as collections and anthologies. Section 103 (a) of the Copyright Act states that “[t]he subject matter of copyright … includes compilations.” […]

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