GD212 Copyright Issues
Week 10

The quarter is almost over. It's time to review pertinent issues.

"Critical Incidents" Worksheet

Here are some mini case studies to discuss in writing. Be sure to mention all the important issues pertaining to intellectual property law.

(You’ll find the midterm Myths links useful for identifying the issues, but be sure to craft your answers in your own way.)

1. You find a picture of a space shuttle in a magazine ad. There is no copyright notice. You scan it to use as a screen saver on a computer that will be used in a commercial photo shoot.

2. You are assembling your digital artistry portfolio. In Image Manipulation class you scanned a picture of the Teletubbies and dressed them in gothic clothing. You taped a Teletubbie episode and used your special effects skills to drop missiles on them.

3. Someone in your digital arts Usenet writes and posts a lengthy message called "10 Compositing Tips." You copy it and post it to another Usenet group you belong to. You figure it’s "Fair Use."

4. You are Albert Student. Last year, you created an online dating service company with the name "Al’s Pals" and an ingenious logo. At the bottom of the company’s home page, you have, "Copyright 1999 by Albert Student" to protect your creation. This year, you find that someone in Michigan has copied your company’s name for his pet store.

5. You write and illustrate an original children’s story that tells how Chewbacca and his wacky Wookie friends hijack a rocketship and visit the Planet of the Apes. You are sure you will make the big bucks on this publication.

6. You self-publish your wacky Wookie children’s book (For some unspoken reason no publisher would touch the project), and make $5,000 in the first month by emailing to Star Wars discussion groups. Suddenly, you find yourself in need of a lawyer. But you’re not afraid because the burden of proof is on the prosecuting party—and besides, doesn’t George Lucas take it as a compliment?

7. You email the best Los Angeles chefs to ask for their favorite avocado secrets. They email you back with complimentary recipes. You post the compilation to your Vegetarian Usenet group.

More Review

Unless noted, the subjects listed below are briefly covered in Chapter 6, 10, and the Appendices of How to Register Your Own Copyright by Mark Warda.

Study the NEW copyright fees. Start at either or (where I searched for Copyright AND Registration AND Fee*)

How much is the new (standard) registration fee?

Answer the following, using your textbook (pages listed) or using other resources, such as Prof. Field's site or the Copyright Office site:

What is Work-For-Hire?

What are the benefits of remaining an independent contractor who assigns rights to the client?: pages 44-48, 179, 181, 183

What is an Assignment of Copyright?: 47, 180, 189

What are Licenses (non-exclusive, exclusive): 61-63, 180, 191

What is Recordation of License? 62

When would you use Form VA vs. Short Form VA? (Appendix H)

Legal Eagle Research Questions:

Multimedia Issue: How many pieces of intellectual property might there be in a movie clip that has a score containing a pop song?

Trademark Issue: After comparing costs and services, which online trademark search service would you use?

Also for our discussion:
Working World Issue: What constitutes a contract? Is a verbal contract binding?

Future Shock

Notice the changes to satellite TV and to databases (announced below):

from U.S. Copyright Office's NewsNet

June 2, 1999 Issue 50

Legislative News


On May 20, the Senate passed H.R. 1554, the Satellite Home Viewers Improvement Act, which, among other provisions, would extend the satellite compulsory license, which is set to expire at the end of this year, for another 5 years. The measure would amend both the Copyright Act and the Communications Act of 1934. The Senate substituted the language of S. 247, as amended, for the language of the House-passed version. In addition to extending the satellite license, the new bill creates a new compulsory license, which allows satellite carriers to retransmit local television stations to households within the stations' local markets, just as cable does; its cuts the copyright royalty rates paid for satellite transmission of distant signals by 30 or 45 percent, depending on the type of signal; it allows consumers to switch from cable to satellite service without a 90-day waiting period for network signals; and it allows for a national Public Broadcasting Service feed. The new bill includes the language of S. 303, the Satellite Television Act of 1999, which was reported out by the Senate Commerce Committee (Senate Report No. 106-51), and which deals with various FCC-related issues as "must carry" and retransmission consent requirements for satellite carriers. The Senate and House must now appoint a conference to work out the differences between the two versions of the Satellite Home Viewers Improvement Act.


H. R. 354, the Collections of Information Antipiracy Act, was amended and reported out of the House Intellectual Property Subcommittee on May 20 and further refined and reported out by the Judiciary Committee on May 26. The bill would offer protection to collections of information such as electronic databases under the Copyright Act, by relying on unfair competition principles to prevent a party from misappropriating another's collection of information.

Other legislation on the same topic, H.R. 1858, the "Consumer and Investor Access to Information Act" was introduced on May 19 by Rep. Tom Bliley (R-Va.) and referred to the Commerce Committee. However, unlike H.R. 354, the bill would not amend the Copyright Act. It would prohibit the sale or distribution of a database that "(1) is a duplicate of another database that was collected and organized by another person and (2) is sold or distributed in commerce in competition with that other database."