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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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False Memoirs and Other Misbehavior

Co-Author Gerald M. Levine What better to start the New Year than with grimy tales about authors, literary agents and publishers? It cannot truthfully be said that in the annuls of publishing there has not been false memoirs and other misbehavior including deliberate misrepresentations, breaches of contract and “extraordinary” fraud. One such (you may remember […]

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Acceptable and Unacceptable Terms of Agency Agreements

Co-author Gerald M. Levine Agency agreements are not forever which is the reason to be concerned about their terms. There are acceptable and unacceptable terms.  They are not like publishing agreements in which authors grant licenses “for the term of copyright.” Nevertheless, for the term of of agreement the agent has an exclusive right to […]

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Pitfalls for Self Publishing Authors

There are publishers in the traditional sense who curate the books they publish and there are companies that provide printing services for self publishing authors without curation who pretend to be traditional publishers. Be wary of printing contracts styled as publishing contracts. The business models are entirely different. Printing contracts can be misleading in describing […]

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Trademarks for Authors

What do trademarks have to do with authorship? Trademarks signify sources of production. The question come up with authors producing serial works who are interested in creating brands. Trademarks for authors can be perfectly reasonable. While single works are not eligible for trademark registration serial works are. Personal names are not registrable as trademarks but […]

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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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Copyrightability in “Original Works of Authorship”

To be protected by copyright, to have copyrightability, requires a certain degree of creativity. The Copyright Clause of the U.S. Constitution provides for copyright protection to “original works of authorship.” The Supreme Court has stated that for a work to be protected it has to “possess[] at least some minimal degree of creativity.” Feist Publ’ns, […]

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Reserving Rights When Agreeing to License

Publishers typically demand rights for the duration of copyright although the shelf life of the licensed work is likely to be measured in single digit years. Authors have a basked of exclusive rights set  out in Section 106 of the Copyright Act only some of which should be agreed to in book publishing contracts. Other […]

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Contributory Infringement and Vicarious Liability for Copyright Infringement

Co-author Gerald M. Levine Copyright is not limited to literary works but extends to other creative productions. Expressive material in literary works are only one color on the palette of creativity. Literary works are first on the list of 8 in §102 of the Copyright Act. The second on the list is “musical works, including […]

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What Is Copyright Infringement?

In assessing claims for copyright infringement similarity is not enough. Verbatim copying is clearly infringes but the standard needed to prove a case of copyright infringement is “substantial similarity.” In a notable case a couple of years ago by a cookbook author aggrieved by another author allegedly poaching in her niche (sneaking vegetables into children’s […]

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The Dead Are Beyond Suing; Be Wary the Living

Co-author Gerald M. Levine The dead are beyond suing but wariness about the living in recollecting the past should not be discounted. Although intellectual property rights (copyright and trademark) may be asserted by an Estate depending on the law of the state in which the deceased died allegations of invasion of privacy and injuring a […]

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Work Made for Hire, Copyright Ownership and Assignment

Authors own their copyrights. It is their intellectual property to do with as they will. But, in some instances either by statutory fiat when the work is a “work made for hire” or by written contract  whereby author transfers his rights to another party it isn’t their property. A “work made for hire” is either […]

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What is Fair Use?

Gerald M. Levine, Esq, co-author The U.S. Constitution grants to authors and inventors for “limited times … the exclusive right to their respective writing and discoveries.” Fair use is an exception to a copyright holder’s right to exclusive use of an original work and works derived from it. The Fair Use privilege is embodied in […]

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Respondent Responsible for the Content of the Website

The general rule is that where a respondent uses a parking service to populate its website with links that redirect Internet users to goods or services competitive with complainant it violates paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy. The underlying principle is that a respondent cannot evade its representation and warranty under paragraph 2 of the Policy […]

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