Intellectual Property Blog

Did This Cat’s Purr Infringe on a Musician’s Copyright?

In 2015, the publisher of a purring cat video — Digihaven — got into a bit of a complicated situation with EMI Music and YouTube. Why? Because according to YouTube’s automated Content ID system, 12 seconds of Phantom the cat’s purring in the hour-long video infringed upon the copyright of a musical composition called “Focus.” Yes, you read that correctly. A cat was blamed for violating a music copyright. Because of how its purr happened […]

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U.S. Copyright Office Celebrates 150 Years

Happy Birthday to the U.S. Copyright Office! In 1870, all copyright functions were placed within the Library of Congress. Since that time, the U.S. Copyright Office has grown quite a bit in both size and function, and I thought a little history lesson might help in understanding how far we have come in the world of copyrights. Copyright History in the United States The authors of the U.S. Constitution included copyright protections in Article I, […]

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Best Practices for Photos on Your Website

Let’s say you start a business. Naturally, you decide you need a website to market your services or products. Maybe you choose to build the website yourself using a template. Or you hire a third party to create a customized website. In either scenario, you are going to want to use some images to enhance the visual appeal. So you search the internet for photos that you might want to use. Not so fast. You […]

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Artist’s Copyright Claim Against Art Collective May Prove Futile with Nothing in Writing 

In 2015, three years after the art collective Meow Wolf initially approached her, artist Lauren Adele Oliver agreed to add her Space Owl to their exhibit House of Eternal Return. According to Oliver, they sold her on the idea by offering her both membership in the group as well as an “artist revenue share”. Over the next few years, the exhibit itself became incredibly successful, earning millions for the collective. It was even named in […]

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International Copyright Dispute Over Light Sculptures

In most cases, if you exert creative effort to craft a piece of art without copying the work of another, and that art is embodied in a physical form, it is likely subject to copyright protection.  The rules can get murky, however, if your artwork is contained within a “useful article.” Under U.S. copyright law, only the artistic elements of a piece may be copyrightable. Any utilitarian elements of the artwork are not eligible for […]

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You Don’t Need to Be a Professional to Make Money from a Photo Copyright

Nowhere in copyright law does it say you have to hold a degree to create original work. It does not say you need a resume or professional equipment to make money from a copyright of a photo either. What you do need is to capture a valuable image. That means being in the right place at the right time and snapping that photo from just the right angle. The other step? Register the image — […]

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