As someone who was drawn to the law and particularly the law of copyright through the file-sharing lawsuits of my formative years, I’ve heard some version of this argument a million times: “Artists should be happy when we illegally share their music, because it provides exposure and they make money through that.” Is there ever any real data to back it up? Not really. But lo! A recent viral video has propelled Kanye back into the Billboard Top 100, for a song that’s 8 years old! Does this change everything? Well, not really, but it does mean the music industry is adapting its enforcement and reaping the benefits. [Read more…]
As you may have heard, tattoo artist Victor Whitmill is suing Warner Brothers in an attempt to gain money damages and enjoin the release of their film, The Hangover Part 2. Why? Because he put a tattoo on Mike Tyson’s face, and that same tattoo ends up on the face of Ed Helms’ character in the movie. Wow. It’s taken me a little while to process the awesome ridiculousness of this situation. One of the reasons I love copyright law is because all the seminal cases deal with terrific subject matter (A 2 Live Crew song called Hairy Woman? Yeah, that’s precedent.), but I never could have seen this one coming. Let’s delve a little deeper into the issues at play (with full complaint below)…
The Huffington Post published a great article by Cat Weaver about the current state of copyright law seen through the lens of a particular picture, and its transformation and use by a handful of artists. If you haven’t read it already, go read it here. (For those who don’t want their attention diverted from my writing, and who can blame you, two artists working together took a picture of a panda, changed it up a bit, and turned it into a t-shirt. A third artist then came along and took an exact copy of the panda graphic, made it into a pattern, and turned it into a large piece of wall art, which he presumably made a bunch of money off of).
Read it? Good. There’s a lot going on in this article — it really makes you think about what copyright law should look like and what the best way to promote the arts and reward artists for their creativity really is — but what jumped out at me is how hamstrung artists Jimi Benedict and AJ Dimarucot are. Why are their options so limited? They never registered their copyright. Why does that limit them so much? Read on. [Read more…]