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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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Delay in Suing for Copyright Infringement

Co-author, Gerald M. Levine Delay in suing for copyright infringement is not fatal to a claim for damages. Plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent 6-3 decision in Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc., decided on May 19, 2014, waited 18 years to bring suit. The majority held that laches cannot be invoked as a bar to […]

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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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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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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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Falling Into and Out of the Public Domain

Co-author Gerald M. Levine Once in the public domain content (which includes characters) is free; to copy or create derivative works. P.D. James’ Death Comes to Pemberley and a continuing stream of novels featuring Sherlock Holmes are recent examples. Until works fall into the public domain content and characters are not free. They are copyright […]

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When Does “In Book Form” Include Grant of EBook Rights?

Co-author Gerald M. Levine In agreeing to publish a work publishers typically demand author “grant and assign” an exclusive license to “print, publish and sell” the work for the “term of copyright and all continuations, extensions, and renewals thereof” in stipulated languages and territories. In modern publishing agreements the language is clear that the grant […]

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Copyrightability of Generic Elements in a Copyrighted Work

Co-author Gerald M. Levine Unprotected elements in a copyrighted work affects the copyrightability of those elements alone. The copyright does not extend to every sentence in a work or to undeveloped characters. Fair use is not an issue since its application presupposes expressive material that is both copyrightable and copyrighted. (we leave for another day […]

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