The Simpsons. Saturday Night Live. Family Guy. South Park.
At different times, many of us enjoy parodies of various cultural icons and public figures. Many of these shows garnered headlines for some of the parody work they had presented, where they poked fun at various parts of society or culture, whether they be religious symbols, trends, presidents, legislators and even entire groups of people.
Many of us laughed at these parodies. Some of us did not have a sense of humor and got angry. But parody has been part of comedy, entertainment and the fabric of America from the start of the Republic.
Despite their prevalence in our culture, are parodies actually a form of copyright infringement?
Parody is on a razor’s edge, walking the tightrope between a First Amendment right to expression and infringing on a copyright. Sometimes you hear about a lawsuit in support of the original idea which was parodied, claiming infringement, but those who do parodies have a couple different defenses which courts have recognized as exemptions in copyright law.
Copyright law prohibits significant use of any creative work without consent of the copyright owner. And as parody is inherently based on mocking an original “work” of some kind, so there are some legal guidelines that will allow parodies without copyright owner permission.
One defense for a parody can be First Amendment expression, of which the courts have granted pretty wide latitude. One key exception is when the parody is deemed to be created with a profit motive in an attempt to usurp the copyrighted work in the public. Another issue is to not use a significant amount of the work in a parody – and courts have been all over the place in defining “significant.” One guide could be to do a parody of Wal-Mart shoppers but don’t use the Wal-Mart name or familiar colors, as an example.
Another exception from copyright law can be the “fair use” defense, which is often used in many parodies. There are a number of factors that go into determining a parody as a legitimate use of “fair use.” They are:
- Whether the “new work” (parody) has a different purpose or “character” as the original work;
- The “nature” of the original – does it require more protection than some other work (historical significance, for example)?
- The amount of the original work that was used in the parody – and is the parody based wholly on that portion?
- How would the parody impact the market value of the original?
As mentioned before, parody is prevalent in the media and in social media, and there is some deference to artistic expression with parodies, but the key is to have just enough different so as to not make an obvious connection to the work being parodied. Playing a mental game where some people can mentally conclude the parody while others may not reasonably notice, is where the line is drawn. But as so many minds are different, that line continues to be fuzzily defined.
Regulation of the Internet is something that has never come easily for the U.S. and it remains controversial decades after the online playground went mainstream and gained huge popularity and importance. The two main political parties–Democrats and Republicans–often feel differently on how it should be run. Republicans are for regulation that would cater more toward business, while Democrats believe that the Internet should remain free and open for the everyday individual. The latter is necessary for online creativity to continue and prosper as it has for so long, but new laws are currently being written to change that.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (or SOPA) was a House bill meant to help law enforcement crack down on Internet theft of intellectual property. In other words, if you download TV shows or music through the Internet without paying the people who created those intellectual properties, then you could continue to be held accountable with huge fines or even jail time. Even though that sounds good on paper, the bill’s opponents believe it went way too far in what it tried to do.
SOPA would have barred search engines from showing popular piracy websites in their search results or providing those websites with revenue through advertisement space. Court orders could be provided to block those websites, while monetary penalties and prison sentences would have gotten stiffer for those that visit them.
Even though the goal was just, the outcome would have created an undeniable injustice, barring free speech and creativity that the Internet is known for. Efforts to enact SOPA didn’t stop after the bill finally failed in congress.
The Protect IP Act (or PIPA) was a senate bill drafted months earlier and with a similar promise. Proponents thought that it would limit the theft of intellectual properties and protect businesses who create them, while opponents said it would crush online free speech. When it was estimated by the Congressional Budget Office (or CBO) that the bill would cost taxpayers $47 million in five years in new federal employees and enforcement, there was a public outcry and the bill was squashed.
SOPA and PIPA were bills drafted in direct response to yet another failed bill, the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA). These bills would have been in direct conflict with newly implemented Obama-era net neutrality laws aimed at preventing Internet service providers from blocking access to certain websites because of their content.
The war against laws that could limit free speech and online creativity is ongoing, even after Trump has voiced his support for such laws and attempted to implement his own. While the road to enacting these kinds of laws won’t be easy, Republicans currently hold all the power after Democrats have failed to pass meaningful protective legislation of their own when they did. Resistance may well be futile, but you never know until it’s over.
If you run a food network, you should make absolutely sure that the recipes you use during your daily broadcasts on TV or the Internet are pure originals or properly licensed. It turns out the Food Network may not have done that, as blogger Elizabeth LaBau from Sandy, Utah is suing for the copyright infringement of one of her popular dessert concoction in a California federal court. That dessert was the aptly-named snow globe cupcake.
While it might not be a big deal for the Food Network, cooking is a full-time promise of employment for LaBau and something she takes very seriously. It’s not okay to take something from her blog without providing due credit, especially when the recipe in question tripled her website’s income.
Copyright infringement is a complex issue when it comes to food. If the Food Network had merely posted a laundry list of ingredients used in LaBau’s recipe, it would not be considered copyright infringement. The lawsuit says that the Food Network’s rundown of how to cook the recipe is a near-exact replica of her own, an act of theft that is most definitely copyright infringement. If the network really did use her own artistic expression of the recipe on its own broadcast, then it is liable for stealing the recipe.
Although for now the lawsuit remains in the realm of mere allegation, it is worth noting that the video was added only three weeks after LaBau updated her own website with the tasty recipe.
One might initially believe that the snow globe cupcake recipe could have been accidentally duplicated, but that certainly isn’t the case once you see how the dessert is made. The snow globe portion of the cupcake is literally a dome that hangs over the cake-like portion, but everything is edible. The dome itself is made of a hardened gelatin.
Because the recipe is so unique, its popularity left her website down for a short period of time. She had a whopping 740,000 shares on Facebook alone–no easy feat.
LaBau says that it is that real-life competition that makes the job so difficult and time-consuming, and it was a major blow when such a major network pilfered her work. Her blog has won several awards in the years since the recipe was posted, but LaBau says it suffered substantially when the Food Network posted such a blatant rip-off of her snow globe dessert. Not only that, but when she contacted the network to discuss how they could choose to either remove their video or provide her with due credit, they ignored her request. It was only then that she moved forward with what turned out to be a $150,000 lawsuit.
Whether or not that lawsuit will fall in her favor is of course up for debate. We’ll know soon enough.
If you want to enter into a licensing agreement with someone, both parties are going to have to exercise due diligence. However, not everyone understands how due diligence applies to licensing. Here’s what you need to know.
Due Diligence For Licensors
If you are the one licensing something, then you need to take a closer look at the person or company that is obtaining the license from you. You may want to conduct some sort of background check.
It is your job to make sure that the licensor doesn’t handle any competing products. You should also make sure that they have a solid reputation. It’s your job to protect your license. Make sure that your licensing agreement won’t damage the license in any way.
Due Diligence For Licensees
A licensor isn’t the only party that has to exercise due diligence. Licensees also need to practice this. What do they need to be doing? To start, they need to make sure that the person they are obtaining the licensing from actually owns the license. If you’re licensing a product, for example, the inventor of that product may not be authorized to license it to you.
There are a number of other things you’ll want to look into as well. You should find out what kind of protection the license has. You should see if the product you are licensing is unique enough to justify the cost of a license. You may want to work with a lawyer. They’ll be able to help you get everything sorted out.
It’s vitally important to exercise due diligence when you are licensing something. If you fail to do this, you could have big problems later on. When is doubt hire one of 361 lawyers to make sure you are handling all aspects of your business correctly.
A lot of famous and common phrases that we use on a regular basis are copyrighted. Copyright law is unusual; a lot of people are surprised when they learn that certain things are copyrighted. A lot of people use these phrases without ever realizing that someone holds the copyright.
Here are a few surprising phrases that are copyrighted.
“Let’s Get Ready To Rumble”
If you’ve ever watched a sporting event, you have probably heard someone say the words “Let’s get ready to rumble.” This isn’t just a catchy phrase that gets people fired up. It’s a phrase that was copyrighted by Michael Buffer, a sports announcer. He has come to licensing agreements that allow other people to use this phrase.
“It Takes Two”
“It takes two” is a phrase that people say all of the time. However, this particular phrase is also copyrighted. The copyright exists because of the song of the same name. While not every song title is copyrighted, this phrase definitely has a copyright behind it. You won’t see this phrase used as a slogan in an ad anytime soon.
People watch the Super Bowl every year, and the phrase “Super Bowl” is used on a regular basis. However, a lot of people are surprised to learn that this phrase actually is trademarked. This is why so many ads about the Super Bowl say “Super Sunday,” “the big game,” or other phrases. The NFL has had to put a lot of effort into protecting this copyright.
Now that you’re more familiar with the famous phrases that are copyrighted, you have a better understanding of what can be copyrighted. People have been able to copyright all kinds of things, from phrases to words. It isn’t always easy to copyright something, but there are many different things that can be copyrighted.
If you are a business that manufactures or supplies products or certain components of products, you are bound by the law to ensure the safety of the clients who use them. The United States has an organization by the name of FTC or Federal Trade Commission to protect consumers from any fault, damage, or injury that may occur as a result of using the product or product component. There are many other laws that are enforced to protect the general public from faulty products and product components on the market. This article provides information on how do you avoid product liability claims and have insurance for your new product.
Product liability refers to defective products that result due to various design defects, manufacturer defects, or marketing defects. The failure to provide adequate warning against the risk is also considered a defect. Although it is not a physical defect, it can also result in a product liability claim. Product liability claims fall into millions of dollars in damages. The cost of such injuries is estimated at $12 billion annually. In fact, a product liability claim can cripple your business, especially if you operate a small business. Here are important things to consider in order to avoid product liability issues.
Thorough product testing is essential to avoid such claims over time. This will alert the manufacturer of possible defects in their products or product components. You should be able to prove that you have taken reasonable steps to avoid product defects. Providing appropriate warnings dangerous goods in another important step that you can take in this regard. Taking out a product liability insurance is another step to avoid liability issues in the long run. These are important steps that you need to take.
Generally, patent applications are published and made available to the public for viewing and search after eighteen months after their earliest priority date. The applications are published regardless of whether a patent has been awarded.
However, an exception to the above rule also exists. Applications that are accompanied by non-publication requests are not automatically published after the expiration of this period.
It is also worth mentioning that provisional applications are never published by the US Patent and Trademarks Office. They only remain at the USPTO for 12 months after which they are abandoned. In some cases however these applications may be made available to the public.
Let’s now look at when patent applications are made available to the public.
Publishing At 3-4 Months
Some patent applications are usually published by the USPTO after a period of three to four months. These applications are those that refer to continuations-in-part or divisional applications. These are published as soon as they are processed by the USPTO system.
Publishing At 6 Months
Next in line are the patents that are published after six months after the application is made. This publishing date comes earlier than the standard eighteen months only for applications whose priority date was 12 months before the application date.
Publishing At 18 Months
As previously stated, all new patent applications in the US are automatically published 18 months after the application date, provided that no non-publication request is made.
Publishing Beyond 18 Months
In some cases, patent applications are made after the standard 18 month period is over. This mainly relates to international patent applications. These are applications filed with WIPO at first and then later with the USPTO. The USPTO then uses the earlier filing date with WIPO as the priority date.
From the above, you will have an idea of just when a certain patent application will be made available to the public by the USPTO.
When you are listening to some of the music that is being played on the radio, you may hear some parodies coming into the radio at times. When you hear these they tend to make you laugh quite a bit, but they also tend to make you wonder what the original artist thinks of what has been done to their song. Here is where you may also start to ask yourself if this is going to be considered a type of copyright infringement since so many artists work hard on the songs they are producing and only get to see them made fun of can be upsetting at times.
The short answer is this is not a copyright infringement because it is going to be something that is considered the fair usage laws. Now this does not mean that people are going to end up getting sued because of the use of the music and making the parody of the songs, but they are typically going to be a little bit easier to defend because of the way the courts have ruled in the past on the fair usage of the songs to be made into parodies and this allows people to have a better time in knowing they are able to use the songs in the form of a parody.
Being able to make a parody of a song can be a good thing, but it can also be daunting as well because people may be concerned about getting sued on copyright infringement laws. This is when people should know more about how making a parody tends to fall under the fair use laws. By knowing about these laws it will be very easy for people to make a parody of their favorite songs and make sure they are able to keep people entertained on the level they never expected before.
I mean who doesn’t love Weird Al?
You’d think something that requires a special patent will bring with it something really special. Or at the very least, it will be useful in some sense. But that’s not always the case, as can be seen in the following examples below. You be the judge whether they deserve to get patented or not.
No. 1 – The Flatulence Deodorizer
Believe it or not, there was somebody who actually got the idea for a flatulence deodorizer. It works pretty much the same way a diaper does, but instead of collecting the bad stuff, it “purifies” the bad smelling air when you can’t keep it in any longer. In other words, you can let it rip anywhere you like, and it will end up smelling like roses.
No. 2 – Templeless Eyewear
If you prefer glasses, but you hate how irritating the temples of the glasses get after a while, this might be the crazy patent for you.
The trick is to keep the glasses in place using strong little magnets. These magnets are literally glued to the sides of your head by the way.
No. 3 – A Way To Get Your Cat To Exercise
To all cat owners who have just about had it with their lazy furry pets, listen up. There’s a patent request for an invention to get them exercising. Using a light beam (or laser), you point it at a spot on the floor or wall and watch your cat go wild. Sound familiar?
No. 4 – A Machine To Kick Yourself With
That’s right, there’s a patent request for a device that allows you to kick your own behind. All you have to do is rotate the crank and feel the kick.
No. 5 – The Animal Toy
It’s nothing more than a piece of wood, seriously. You can read about it here: http://www.freepatentsonline.com/6360693.html
On one hand, you have investors who are clamoring for results and to see their eagerly awaited return on investment and on the other hand, you have competitors who are eager to ride on the coattails of the research being undertaken.
The nature of the startup also dictates that marketing is at the core of continued success. Without actively marketing their success and the eagerly awaited product or service the startup cannot ensure that it receives another round of funding.
This puts those at the helm in a dangerous position. They need to create excitement – but at the same time, they need to protect their intellectual capital from the schools of sharks in the competitive environment who are eager to take advantage – and leverage any research that they undertake.
One of the only ways to ensure that the startup will actually enjoy the fruits of their labor is to engage the services of an intellectual property attorney.
These professionals will ensure that intellectual property is protected not only without the borders of the country where it is undertaken – but also across the globe. in an ever shrinking market where the speed of communication and global markets has changed beyond recognition, especially in the last decade the retention of the services of an intellectual property attorney is now a business imperative.
If the startup wants to thrive it must take into account the fact that others will snap up its intellectual capital at the first available opportunity. Having a top class legal mind in your corner is the only way of ensuring that the company will go the distance.