4 Factors to determine fair use of a copyrighted work

copyrightIn his webinar, “Fair Use or Infringement in 2018, and Other Current Copyright Issues”, Ken Norwick, author of The Legal Guide for Writers, Artists, and Other Creative People reminded participants that the purpose of copyright is “to give creators an incentive to create”.

The U.S. Constitution states that the purpose of copyright is “to promote the progress of science and useful arts”, said Norwick. However, in order to progress, he said, there must be a level of fair use of the creations that came before. Four factors exist in determining whether a use is qualified as fair use and thus not an infringement on copyright, said Norwick. They are: [Read more…]

Does ‘first sale’ mean fewer sales?

copyrightSoon after the Supreme Court’s decision this past spring in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, a story in The New York Times gave voice to a widespread concern that a doctrine called “first sale” would soon swallow up a U.S. copyright owner’s right to control and limit importation and redistribution of not only textbooks intended for foreign markets but also of e-books not intended for lending (library or personal).

The Kirtsaeng case turned on a contest for priority between apparently conflicting provisions in the Copyright Act – one setting out the “first sale” doctrine and the other dealing with a copyright owner’s right to control importation of copies of their work. The Supreme Court tipped the scales in favor of first sale and interpreted the right to control importation as essentially non-existent for all practical purposes.1 [Read more…]

The statutory termination right: One copyright act provision your publisher hopes you never hear about

Zick Rubin

Zick Rubin

In the fall of 1977, Ralph Little had just received his Ph.D. in Elfin Studies and was beginning his first faculty job as an assistant professor at Middle Earth College. Elfin Studies was in its infancy – many universities did not even recognize it as a legitimate discipline — and there was no introductory textbook on the market. Each week Ralph prepared lecture outlines on ditto masters for the dozen intrepid undergraduates in his Elfin Studies 101. When a representative of Colossal Publishers, Inc., came by his office, Ralph, sporting the sideburns and bell-bottoms of the day, told him about his idea of writing an introduction to Elfin Studies.

Soon afterward, Colossal offered Ralph a contract to write his Introduction to Elves, for a royalty of 5 percent of Colossal’s receipts on every copy sold. The royalty sounded almost as diminutive as the subject matter. But Ralph was thrilled to become a textbook author, and the editor promised him that when the book came out, he would be invited to Colossal’s Midwestern sales meeting in Minneapolis. He signed the contract early in 1978, and the first edition was published on January 10, 1980. [Read more…]