GD212 Copyright Issues
Week 4

This week we'll look more closely at how copyright can (and can't) protect intellectual property. Using the Internet, we'll look at some infringement battles that are of special interest to designers, other visual artists, and people who use the World Wide Web.

Unless noted, the subjects listed below are briefly covered in Chapters 2 and 3 of How to Register Your Own Copyright by Mark Warda.

What Can and Cannot Be Copyrighted?

Chapter 2: What Can Be Copyrighted?
Expression vs. Idea (Feel free to refer to Field’s "Avoiding Problems.")
Types of Works
Aspects (Pay special attention to how paraphrasing has become more risky.)
Cases of Infringement and Cases of Non-Infringement
Name the cases (in the textbook) that would have been defended as being parodies.


Chapter 3: What Cannot Be Copyrighted?
Works Not Fixed in a Tangible Form
Titles, Name, Mottos, or Slogans
Ideas, Methods, Procedures and Systems
Plots and Themes
Scènes à Faire
Have I copied your beer commercial's concept and feel if my actors are also seated in a bar? Why? or Why not?

Historical Events
Common Information
Mere Facts
EXCEPTION: Hot News Doctrine: What does this protect?

Lists of Ingredients
Blank Forms and Record Books
EXCEPTION: When might you be able to copyright a blank form?

What is rule of doubt?

Databases are not currently protected in the U.S. Where are they protected?

EXCEPTION: Government Publications
EXCEPTION: Laws and Court Opinions
Religious Revelations
Type Faces
EXCEPTION: How might you protect your new typeface?

Utilitarian Objects: How long does a patent last?

If you wanted to market your unique mousepads, how might you protect such a (utilitarian) product?

Legal Eagle Activity

Read Webster v. Modest for interpretations of Free Speech, Libel, and Copyright Infringement.
Discuss each concept in terms of this case:
How did the judge rule on the case in relation to the issue of free speech?

How did the judge rule in relation to the issue of libel?

How did the judge rule on the issue of copyright infringement?

Copyright-on-the-Web Activity

Problems Online: Read Benedict O'Mahoney’s articles on Newsgroups and Web Sites by clicking on the monitor icon. This takes you to his "digital" section where you may read.
NOTE: These pages do not necessarily print out well.
What did you learn about protection and infringement issues with regard to the Web?

Visual Arts Activity

Also in Benedict's site are features on visual art infringement.
In which case were filmmakers accused of infringing on a work of fine art?

Presentation Preparation

Who is your presentation audience?

What do they want to protect?

Look up how to protect a particular kind of work, by reading one of the circulars published up by the Copyright Office. (The Copyright Office even has circulars about registering recipes, comic strips, multimedia works, and online works.)
Share something new that you learned:

Find a good "war story" for your presentation project:
See if the Photo District News site or any other website has any news on current infringement cases. (Click on PDNewswire, then look for the "Legal Developments" articles.)
If not, there are articles from their "Legal Developments" archives in a binder on the shelves of our Learning Resource Center. This binder is on RESERVE. It and its contents must remain in the library.
What case did you find?