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VIDEO: Protecting Your Copyright

In this short video, I explain why it's important to protect your creative works with a copyright--and it's probably more inexpensive than you thought.

Enjoy!

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Congress Should Take up Conyers' proposal to Clarify Copyright Law

Today's New York Times reports that Rep. Conyers is calling on Congress to revise the Copyright Act to clarify that recording artists are entitled to recapture ownership over their copyrights in sound recordings.  As the article explains, and as I referenced in my last blog post, questions exist whether transfers in copyrights in sound recordings (like other works) may be terminated, or whether they are "works made for hire," disqualifying them from being recaptured/terminated. 

The article indicates that the big four record labels and their allies in Congress may prefer to ignore the issue and let the courts decide it.  While such strategy would undoubtedly provide job security for us copyright litigators, it seems to make little sense for anyone else.  This is an issue that Congress can and should decide now, putting recording artists in the same camp as every other type of author, with all of the same rights. 

Congress Should Take up Conyers' proposal to Clarify Copyright Law

Today's New York Times reports that Rep. Conyers is calling on Congress to revise the Copyright Act to clarify that recording artists are entitled to recapture ownership over their copyrights in sound recordings.  As the article explains, and as I referenced in my last blog post, questions exist whether transfers in copyrights in sound recordings (like other works) may be terminated, or whether they are "works made for hire," disqualifying them from being recaptured/terminated. 

The article indicates that the big four record labels and their allies in Congress may prefer to ignore the issue and let the courts decide it.  While such strategy would undoubtedly provide job security for us copyright litigators, it seems to make little sense for anyone else.  This is an issue that Congress can and should decide now, putting recording artists in the same camp as every other type of author, with all of the same rights. 

Regaining Ownership over Copyrights

The Tennessean recently published my article on recapturing copyrights.  This is what I wrote: 
 
         
             If they’re not scrambling yet, Nashville songwriters, recording artists, publishing houses and labels soon will be as they jockey to control copyrights. Starting this year, authors can begin to give notice to terminate the transfer of any copyright that was published on or after January 1, 1978.   
            Generally, whoever owns the copyright owns the right to distribute, sell and reproduce the work in question, whether it be lyrics or music to a song, sound recordings, motion pictures, manuscripts, software, architectural designs, or photographs.  When an author transfers ownership, he or she loses those rights.  But by terminating the transfer, authors redirect royalty streams away from the current owners (labels, publishers, and so forth) and back to the original authors.
            A five year window opens up 35 years after publication, allowing authors to terminate transfers they made in the past.  For those works published in 1978, the first opportunity to terminate the transfer will be in 2013.  (For works published or registered prior to 1978, different rules apply, but authors can still recapture their copyrights.)  The Act requires authors to provide at least two years notice, so those who want to terminate their 1978 transfers in 2013 must send notice in 2011. 
            Historically, when working to get established, authors (be they poets, songwriters, filmmakers or sculptors) have had little leverage with their publisher or label.  In exchange for receiving financial advances and getting published, young authors often must transfer ownership of the copyright in the work to the publisher/label.  For example, Garth Brooks currently has a lot more negotiating power than newer artists because he has a track record of producing huge hits.  
            Recognizing the uneven bargaining power that authors possess when first trying to make it big, Congress leveled the playing field by giving them the ability to recapture the copyrights they transferred to the publisher/labels 35 years ago.  Whether an artist’s record contract says he has created a work made for hire, or whether she has signed a contract promising never to terminate the transfer, it doesn’t matter because the right to terminate transfer is irrevocable. 
            Congress left open many unanswered questions that courts across the country will have to answer.  With Nashville’s stature in the music and publishing industries, as well as our growing technology community, this has the potential to wreak as much havoc on business as the switch from vinyl to digital.  Given the impact of this law on our own community, I feel certain that Nashville’s federal courts will be in the center of this storm.
            The rules in this area are complicated, even to many lawyers.  They are highly technical and require jumping through many hoops.  Once the window to recapture closes, it generally closes for good.  Authors who are interested in recapturing their copyrights should start working on this right away, take this into account when writing their wills, and enlist professional help from a lawyer in this field. 

Regaining Ownership over Copyrights



The Tennessean recently published my article on recapturing copyrights.  This is what I wrote: 


         
             If they’re not scrambling yet, Nashville songwriters, recording artists, publishing houses and labels soon will be as they jockey to control copyrights.  Starting this year, authors can begin to give notice to terminate the transfer of any copyright that was published on or after January 1, 1978. 

            Generally, whoever owns the copyright owns the right to distribute, sell and reproduce the work in question, whether it be lyrics or music to a song, sound recordings, motion pictures, manuscripts, software, architectural designs, or photographs.  When an author transfers ownership, he or she loses those rights.  But by terminating the transfer, authors redirect royalty streams away from the current owners (labels, publishers, and so forth) and back to the original authors.

            A five year window opens up 35 years after publication, allowing authors to terminate transfers they made in the past.  For those works published in 1978, the first opportunity to terminate the transfer will be in 2013.  (For works published or registered prior to 1978, different rules apply, but authors can still recapture their copyrights.)  The Act requires authors to provide at least two years notice, so those who want to terminate their 1978 transfers in 2013 must send notice in 2011.

            Historically, when working to get established, authors (be they poets, songwriters, filmmakers or sculptors) have had little leverage with their publisher or label.  In exchange for receiving financial advances and getting published, young authors often must transfer ownership of the copyright in the work to the publisher/label.  For example, Garth Brooks currently has a lot more negotiating power than newer artists because he has a track record of producing huge hits. 

            Recognizing the uneven bargaining power that authors possess when first trying to make it big, Congress leveled the playing field by giving them the ability to recapture the copyrights they transferred to the publisher/labels 35 years ago.  Whether an artist’s record contract says he has created a work made for hire, or whether she has signed a contract promising never to terminate the transfer, it doesn’t matter because the right to terminate transfer is irrevocable.

            Congress left open many unanswered questions that courts across the country will have to answer.  With Nashville’s stature in the music and publishing industries, as well as our growing technology community, this has the potential to wreak as much havoc on business as the switch from vinyl to digital.  Given the impact of this law on our own community, I feel certain that Nashville’s federal courts will be in the center of this storm.

            The rules in this area are complicated, even to many lawyers.  They are highly technical and require jumping through many hoops.  Once the window to recapture closes, it generally closes for good.  Authors who are interested in recapturing their copyrights should start working on this right away, take this into account when writing their wills, and enlist professional help from a lawyer in this field. 

Entertainment Industry's New Copyright Alert System May Create New Form of Evidence in Copyright Infringement Lawsuits & Lead to Higher Damages


It was big news earlier this month when many of the big entertainment companies entered into an agreement with Internet service providers (ISPs) regarding efforts they will take to self-regulate and self-police copyright infringement. The name of this plan is the "Copyright Alert System."
According to the Wall St. Journal and the Center for Copyright Information, the plan has six steps, from the mildest (in issuing warnings), to the intermediate (in requiring users to acknowledge that they received notice), to the most severe (in slowing down the speed at which alleged infringers may access the Internet).
As a copyright lawyer who goes to court to resolve disputes, I am most interested in the intermediate step. It strikes me that if users are forced to acknowledge that they have received a warning that their conduct may constitute infringement and yet they proceed forward anyway, the fact that they acknowledged such warning may be used against them in a copyright infringement action. The ISPs will not be releasing the identity of these users voluntarily. But a court can always grant permission to subpoena material showing that they took this intermediate step. This new policy may be opening up a whole new world of evidence of willfulness that can be used against people who knowingly infringe on others' copyrights. And willful infringement entitles copyright plaintiffs to increased money damages.

 

Entertainment Industry's New Copyright Alert System May Create New Form of Evidence in Copyright Infringement Lawsuits & Lead to Higher Damages


It was big news earlier this month when many of the big entertainment companies entered into an agreement with Internet service providers (ISPs) regarding efforts they will take to self-regulate and self-police copyright infringement. The name of this plan is the "Copyright Alert System."

According to the Wall St. Journal and the Center for Copyright Information, the plan has six steps, from the mildest (in issuing warnings), to the intermediate (in requiring users to acknowledge that they received notice), to the most severe (in slowing down the speed at which alleged infringers may access the Internet).


As a copyright lawyer who goes to court to resolve disputes, I am most interested in the intermediate step. It strikes me that if users are forced to acknowledge that they have received a warning that their conduct may constitute infringement and yet they proceed forward anyway, the fact that they acknowledged such warning may be used against them in a copyright infringement action. The ISPs will not be releasing the identity of these users voluntarily. But a court can always grant permission to subpoena material showing that they took this intermediate step. This new policy may be opening up a whole new world of evidence of willfulness that can be used against people who knowingly infringe on others' copyrights. And willful infringement entitles copyright plaintiffs to increased money damages.


"Always On," Consumers Expect Businesses to Embrace Technology Even More

In this new iPhone world, where consumers can download an app at the press of a button, businesses must embrace technology or risk being left behind.  When I say embrace technology, I'm not talking about just having an Internet presence or just using social media for marketing.  I mean using technology to create new apps, tools or games that let you instantly connect and engage with your customers.

Brian X. Chen, a writer for Wired Magazine, was recently interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air from WHYY.  Here's a link to the story and the interview.  In the interview, he discussed his new book, Always On: How the iPhone Unlocked the Anything-Anytime-Anywhere Future -- and Locked Us In.

From a business perspective, the most fascinating part of the book is Chen's comment on how consumers' expectations have changed in light of the way the iPhone lets them unlock worlds of knowledge in the swipe of their phone screen.  In an excerpt from his book, he writes: "The iPhone changed our standards for what we expect from technology, and as a result, businesses are being forced to give us more for our money. We don't want seven pieces of hardware to perform seven different tasks; we want a single gadget capable of doing anything-anytime-anywhere. Soon, manufacturers will no longer be able to sell single-function gadgets lacking an internet connection because those gadgets will soon be obsolete. Consequently, a large number of companies and industries find themselves threatened because a downloadable app can easily replace nearly any dedicated, single-use product."

How is your business using technology to satisfy consumer expectations?  What app could you develop to keep your customers engaged?  Are you thinking from the mindset of a customer who owns an iPhone, and who expects information immediately? No matter your industry -- entertainment, publishing, banking, technology, professional services, arts, health care, environmental -- customers want more from you, and they expect it in the form of instantly accessed technology.

"Always On," Consumers Expect Businesses to Embrace Technology Even More

In this new iPhone world, where consumers can download an app at the press of a button, businesses must embrace technology or risk being left behind.  When I say embrace technology, I'm not talking about just having an Internet presence or just using social media for marketing.  I mean using technology to create new apps, tools or games that let you instantly connect and engage with your customers.

Brian X. Chen, a writer for Wired Magazine, was recently interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air from WHYY.  Here's a link to the story and the interview.  In the interview, he discussed his new book, Always On: How the iPhone Unlocked the Anything-Anytime-Anywhere Future -- and Locked Us In.

From a business perspective, the most fascinating part of the book is Chen's comment on how consumers' expectations have changed in light of the way the iPhone lets them unlock worlds of knowledge in the swipe of their phone screen.  In an excerpt from his book, he writes: "The iPhone changed our standards for what we expect from technology, and as a result, businesses are being forced to give us more for our money. We don't want seven pieces of hardware to perform seven different tasks; we want a single gadget capable of doing anything-anytime-anywhere. Soon, manufacturers will no longer be able to sell single-function gadgets lacking an internet connection because those gadgets will soon be obsolete. Consequently, a large number of companies and industries find themselves threatened because a downloadable app can easily replace nearly any dedicated, single-use product."

How is your business using technology to satisfy consumer expectations?  What app could you develop to keep your customers engaged?  Are you thinking from the mindset of a customer who owns an iPhone, and who expects information immediately? No matter your industry -- entertainment, publishing, banking, technology, professional services, arts, health care, environmental -- customers want more from you, and they expect it in the form of instantly accessed technology.

Privacy? Anyone Remember What That Is?

Does privacy really exist any more?  Sure it does, but sometimes it's easy to forget. 

Take the story's in today's Tennessean: "Nashville Residents Take on Google Wi-Spy, Join Privacy Lawsuit."  Google is accused of tapping into wireless networks while it drove by individuals' houses to capture a copy of their homes for placement on Google Earth.  According to the article, the wire tapping had nothing to do with capturing images of the homes; rather, it was done to improve Google's LBS -- location based services.

What's LBS? It's new technology that allows us consumers to get more accurate information at our fingertips when we log into a new app.  For example, when you go to TripAdvisor's App, if you allow it to track your location, it can send you a map showing you restaurants, parks, hotels, and music venues -- all tailored to your location.  When I go on vacation this fall, I can open up my iPad, tap on the app, and it will move with me, knowing I'm in another location, and providing me with the same instant information -- I don't have to key in the location, because the app does it for me. 

Are there privacy concerns in this?  Of course there are.  And that's ignoring Google's alleged wire tapping.  The concerns are that we give up some privacy when our smart phones know our location.  Who else knows our location?  Surely someone's finding a way to sell that information and make money -- this is called "monetization."

As I explained while recently speaking on a panel at Lipscomb University, our free Internet, and our incredibly tech savvy tools, are not truly free, even though they appear to be.  They come at a price and, as a society, we're just beginning to see what that price is: our privacy.

The lawyers at Covington & Burling have compiled a great summary of privacy bills pending before Congress.  As Congress wades through these bills, it is faced with the same tensions we all face: how much privacy are we willing to give up in exchange for the luxuries of information technology?  To protect our privacy, we may decide it's time to pay to protect ourselves, and we may begin to realize that things that seem too good to be true (an Internet without a price tag) really might be.

Privacy? Anyone Remember What That Is?

Does privacy really exist any more?  Sure it does, but sometimes it's easy to forget. 

Take the story's in today's Tennessean: "Nashville Residents Take on Google Wi-Spy, Join Privacy Lawsuit."  Google is accused of tapping into wireless networks while it drove by individuals' houses to capture a copy of their homes for placement on Google Earth.  According to the article, the wire tapping had nothing to do with capturing images of the homes; rather, it was done to improve Google's LBS -- location based services.

What's LBS? It's new technology that allows us consumers to get more accurate information at our fingertips when we log into a new app.  For example, when you go to TripAdvisor's App, if you allow it to track your location, it can send you a map showing you restaurants, parks, hotels, and music venues -- all tailored to your location.  When I go on vacation this fall, I can open up my iPad, tap on the app, and it will move with me, knowing I'm in another location, and providing me with the same instant information -- I don't have to key in the location, because the app does it for me. 

Are there privacy concerns in this?  Of course there are.  And that's ignoring Google's alleged wire tapping.  The concerns are that we give up some privacy when our smart phones know our location.  Who else knows our location?  Surely someone's finding a way to sell that information and make money -- this is called "monetization."

As I explained while recently speaking on a panel at Lipscomb University, our free Internet, and our incredibly tech savvy tools, are not truly free, even though they appear to be.  They come at a price and, as a society, we're just beginning to see what that price is: our privacy.

The lawyers at Covington & Burling have compiled a great summary of privacy bills pending before Congress.  As Congress wades through these bills, it is faced with the same tensions we all face: how much privacy are we willing to give up in exchange for the luxuries of information technology?  To protect our privacy, we may decide it's time to pay to protect ourselves, and we may begin to realize that things that seem too good to be true (an Internet without a price tag) really might be.

The Next Tidal Wave in Social Media: Video, Apps, QR Codes and Location-based Software

Video, apps, QR Codes and LBS (for location based software, not pounds) are about to be the next tidal wave in social media. It's not that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are losing any prominence (yet), but more and more businesses are waking up to see new ways to connect with their audiences. When law firms and banks (conservative by nature) start adding video to their home pages, you know something's catching on.

As these forms of social media become more popular, they raise new issues for the law to grapple with. Who owns the content? Did you get permission to include an image of that person or that song in your video? Have you informed your users that you plan to sell information about their visiting patterns whenever they view your site? Thoughts for businesses, legislatures and the courts to consider...

The Next Tidal Wave in Social Media: Video, Apps, QR Codes and Location-based Software

Video, apps, QR Codes and LBS (for location based software, not pounds) are about to be the next tidal wave in social media. It's not that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are losing any prominence (yet), but more and more businesses are waking up to see new ways to connect with their audiences. When law firms and banks (conservative by nature) start adding video to their home pages, you know something's catching on.

As these forms of social media become more popular, they raise new issues for the law to grapple with. Who owns the content? Did you get permission to include an image of that person or that song in your video? Have you informed your users that you plan to sell information about their visiting patterns whenever they view your site? Thoughts for businesses, legislatures and the courts to consider...

Conexion Americas hosts WaterCooler

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Video: Protecting Your Family & Your Reputation when Using Social Media

I was recently invited to speak on "Digital Citizenship and the First Amendment" at The Leadership and Civility in a Digital Age speaker series, presented by Lipscomb University’s Nelson & Sue Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership and Department of Communication and Journalism and by Centerstone.  My friend Debi Tate, a former commissioner on the FCC, invited me to join First Amendment scholar Gene Policinsky on the panel. 

Typically when I speak on legal issues in social media, it is to an audience of business leaders or marketing professionals.  Last night was an opportunity to look at these issues from the perspective of the individual consumer and citizen.  With that in mind, I titled my talk "Protecting Your Family & Your Reputation when Using Social Media."  We had a great crowd and a good conversation.  For a link to the video, go here





Video: Protecting Your Family & Your Reputation when Using Social Media

I was recently invited to speak on "Digital Citizenship and the First Amendment" at The Leadership and Civility in a Digital Age speaker series, presented by Lipscomb University’s Nelson & Sue Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership and Department of Communication and Journalism and by Centerstone.  My friend Debi Tate, a former commissioner on the FCC, invited me to join First Amendment scholar Gene Policinsky on the panel. 

Typically when I speak on legal issues in social media, it is to an audience of business leaders or marketing professionals.  Last night was an opportunity to look at these issues from the perspective of the individual consumer and citizen.  With that in mind, I titled my talk "Protecting Your Family & Your Reputation when Using Social Media."  We had a great crowd and a good conversation.  For a link to the video, go here





WaterCooler goes to Corsair Distillery for Exclusive Tasting & Tour

 
If you missed the last WaterCooler, you missed a great event!  Nashville's only distillery, Corsair, gave us a behind-the-scenes tour of how they make and distill what is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after small batch liquors in the U.S. when they hosted us in April 2011.
Located in Marathon Village, which used to house Yazoo Brewery, Corsair had to work mighty hard to even get up and running in Tennessee.
Darek Bell

Because Tennessee's laws and Nashville's laws were so onerous, Corsair actually began in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  Only after they were able to convince the state and local lawmakers to allow them to "manufacture intoxicating liquors" were they able to come back home.
As part of a private event for WaterCooler, co-owners Darek Bell and Andrew Webber showed us around, told the story behind Corsair, and gave us samples in their tasting room.  The Tennessean just reported that members of the public won't get this same opportunity until the laws are changed.
Andrew Webber
To join the invitation list and receive news about upcoming WaterCooler events, shoot me an email. Thanks to everyone who showed up.  See you at the next on on May 9 at Conexion Americas!

Here are some photos from WaterCooler at Corsair:












Video on Protecting Your Family & Your Reputation when Using Social Media

I was recently invited to speak on "Digital Citizenship and the First Amendment" at The Leadership and Civility in a Digital Age speaker series, presented by Lipscomb University’s Nelson & Sue Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership and Department of Communication and Journalism and by Centerstone. My friend Debi Tate, a former commissioner on the FCC, invited me to join First Amendment scholar Gene Policinsky on the panel.

Typically when I speak on legal issues in social media, it is to an audience of business leaders or marketing professionals.  Speaking at Lipscomb was an opportunity to look at these issues from the perspective of the individual consumer and citizen. With that in mind, I titled my talk "Protecting Your Family & Your Reputation when Using Social Media." We had a great crowd and a good conversation. Here's a few minutes from my presentation that we recorded.



Video on Protecting Your Family & Your Reputation when Using Social Media

I was recently invited to speak on "Digital Citizenship and the First Amendment" at The Leadership and Civility in a Digital Age speaker series, presented by Lipscomb University’s Nelson & Sue Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership and Department of Communication and Journalism and by Centerstone. My friend Debi Tate, a former commissioner on the FCC, invited me to join First Amendment scholar Gene Policinsky on the panel.

Typically when I speak on legal issues in social media, it is to an audience of business leaders or marketing professionals.  Speaking at Lipscomb was an opportunity to look at these issues from the perspective of the individual consumer and citizen. With that in mind, I titled my talk "Protecting Your Family & Your Reputation when Using Social Media." We had a great crowd and a good conversation. Here's a few minutes from my presentation that we recorded.



Music & Margaritas: Preview Party for Conexion Americas' Annual Breakfast

How lucky was it to stumble upon the first night of incredible weather in early April when we held a garden party kicking off the annual breakfast for my favorite non-profit in town Conexion Americas?

We called it "Music & Margaritas."

Everyone expected a good margarita and some great conversation, but no one expected to hear "Rumba," the number one band in Nashville's corporate band challenge, hosted by the Arts & Business Council!  When my friend Leon said he would take care of the music, we thought he meant he and another guy would bring their guitars, but he showed up with an entire Latino rock band.  Incredible.

Conexion Americas serves as a bridge between the established community in Nashville and the recently-arriving Latino community.  Its mission is to promote the social, economic and civic advancement of Latino families in Middle Tennessee.  It was a great chance for friends to learn about the amazing work of Conexion Americas, and a great opportunity for Conexion Americas to make some new friends.

Mark your calendars for the annual breakfast on May 26 at 7:30am at Loews Vanderbilt!

Here are some photos from Music & Margaritas: