Almost nobody reads the fine print on any website or online service, you hit the “Agree” button and move on your way, comfortable in the knowledge that you’ll soon be listening to the hippity hop, or snapchatting, or whatever it is the kids are doing online these days. Well, if you’re an Instagram user, it’s important to take a look at the Terms of Service that are going into effect on January 16, 2013, and it’s a reminder to take a look at the TOS for any service that has the potential to put your personal info out there (read: most free online services). What are these new terms to be aware of? Glad you asked…
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)…
Every once in a while even a lawyer needs a field trip, and for a lawyer that likes to work with creative people, a sculpture park and museum is as good a place to go as any. So last week I took a break from my regularly scheduled volunteering in Boston Housing Court and made my way out to Lincoln, MA. In addition to finding out that the men and women of Lincoln are a barn-loving people, I discovered the deCordova Sculpture Park and Musuem, which is hosting the collection Drawing With Code: Works from the Anne and Michael Spalter Collection through April 24th. As part of my duties volunteering for the upcoming Boston CyberArts Festival, I did a write up on their blog detailing my experience, so go check that out here, and then get out and have your own art field trip.
So I’ve made the case for why artists should copyright their creative works, the next question is: once it’s copyrighted, what’s protected, and what can others take for themselves? Since the types of works that are subject to copyright protection are so diverse – from sculptures to songs to dance steps – the protectable elements of each type of work all have their own quirks and nuances. In the end though, it all comes back to originality. For photographers, courts have set up a system to describe the various ways a photograph can be original and therefore the various ways in which it’s protected by copyright. Who’s the pivotal figure in the whole thing? You guessed it… Frank Stallone Kevin Garnett.
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…]