Copyright Infringement discussion
Discussion 5.1: Copyright Infringement
Below are three examples where an artist was sued for copyright infringement by another artist. Listen to each pair of examples (melody, rhythm, groove, chord changes, bass line, etc.), and for each pair of songs, post your response to the following questions and then comment on another student’s response.
In your opinion, based on criteria listed above, are the two song songs similar enough to have prompted a lawsuit?
Explain why you’ve come to that conclusion—cite examples from the songs that you think are similar/dissimilar.
Exercise 5.1: Who Owns the Copyright?
Choose a song that you wish to cover on your next album. This requires you to obtain a mechanical
license (since this is a copyrighted work).
Using one of the three Performing Rights Organizations, BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, or the Harry Fox Agency, conduct a search to find out who owns the copyright and who the publisher is.
Discussion 5.2: Determining Urgency
Why is it important to learn to determine what is not urgent when managing your time?
Copyright law affects one’s rights and ability to use another’s work, including writings, drawings, photographs, paintings, software codes, or even business plans. The purpose of copyright law is to promote the creation of works by giving authors exclusive property rights; copyright law is intended to encourage the dissemination of these works, bolstering a competitive marketplace.
For a work to be eligible for copyright protection, it must be an “original work of authorship” that is (1) “fixed in a tangible medium of expression,” (2) original, and (3) possessing a modicum of creativity. “Fixed in a tangible medium of expression” means the work exists in some physical form, for some period of time, no matter how brief. The originality requirement allows for works that are similar to pre-existing works, but may be lacking in quality, ingenuity, or aesthetic merit, so as long as the new work is independently created. The modicum of creativity requirement necessitates some creative effort on the part of the author.
Copyright protection can be granted for literary works, musical works and their accompanying words, dramatic works and their accompanying music, pantomimes and choreographic works, pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works, motion pictures and other audiovisual works, sound recordings, and architectural works. Works that are ineligible for copyright protection include ideas, procedures, systems, methods of operation, principles, or discoveries. The ineligible works fall short of the originality and modicum of creativity requirements necessary for copyright protection. Other examples of noncopyrightable works include short titles and phrases, mere listings of ingredients or contents, works that are part of common property with no original ownership such as a calendar, speeches that have not been written or recorded, and basic plots or character types.
Businesses should be aware that copyright protection is date and fact sensitive. The date of publication determines the duration of copyright protection, as well as the necessity for observing certain formalities related to the copyright protection. For works published after 1977, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus seventy years. If the work is for hire, meaning it is done in the course of employment or specifically commissioned, or if it is published anonymously, by a corporation, or under a pseudonym, the copyright lasts between 95 and 120 years, depending on the publication date. At the end of the copyright protection time period, the work becomes part of the public domain. This means the work is available for anyone to use without permission or restriction, but no person or entity can ever own it. All works published in the United States before 1923 are in the public domain.
Notably, a copyright symbol (©) is no longer required to receive copyright protection. It is nevertheless wise for authors and businesses to include the symbol so that an infringer cannot claim to be unaware of the copyright. Publication or registration in the Copyright Office is not required to secure copyright protection for works created after January 1, 1978: works are copyrighted at the moment they are fixed in a tangible form.
Nonetheless, registering the copyright with the Copyright Office does have certain important benefits and advantages. The most significant advantage is that registration is a prerequisite to filing an infringement suit in court. Meaning, in order to be able to file a lawsuit against an infringer for copyright infringement and stand a chance at recovering any type of damages, you must have a copyright registration for the work or works at issue. Completing registration creates a public record of the author’s copyright claim, which renders an alleged infringer incapable of asserting an innocent infringer defense. If the work is registered within five years of publication, the registration is presumptively true evidence of the validity of the copyright. If registered within three months of publication, or prior to infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney’s fees are available to the copyright owner in court actions; otherwise, owners can only recover actual damages and the infringer’s profits. Additionally, the owner of a registered copyright may record the registration with the United States Customs and Border Protection to protect against the importation of infringing copies.