Articles Posted in Copyright Registration-Application

Attorney Slade Neighbors filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against his former girlfriend Veronica Monger for posting his text messages and emails on her blog website.  Monger’s website

claims that the text messages and emails were sent by Neighbors and evidence the alleged physical and mental abuse.  Monger adds commentary to the postings, including providing domestic abuse victims encouragement, resources and information for organizations offering assistance.  The complaint admits that Neighbors “created the emails and text messages,” which he registered with the Copyright Office obtaining two separate registration numbers.  The complaint appears to admit the authenticity of the communications by alleging that Neighbors “discovered that the Copyrighted Works were being used on the website(s) identified above without Plaintiff’s permission.”

The veracity of Monger’s abuse claims aside, if both parties were responding to text messages, an argument can be made that Monger is also a joint author of the text message string.  As a joint author, she is allowed to publish and exploit the work as she sees fit.

Kendall Jenner’s copyright infringement lawsuit is the most recent in a growing list of celebrities being sued by paparazzi for copyright infringement for posting pictures and videos of themselves to Instagram and other social media sites.  Photographers who take photos of the celebrities in public are deemed the copyright owners and in turn license them to different outlets for publishing.  Celebs who publish these same pictures to their respective Instagram and other social media accounts are then sued by paparazzi photographers for copyright infringement under the Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. § 501).

In Gigi Hadid’s New York case, Hadid was sued a second time for posting a photograph on two of her Instagram accounts.  Her attorneys called the copyright infringement accusation copyright misuse and an attempt to extract money from Hadid.  Her attorneys also argued that Hadid had an implied license or joint authorship because she posed and smiled for the photograph, adding to its protectable elements.  Xclusive-Lee, Inc. v. Hadid, 1:19-cv-00520-PKC-CLP (E.D.N.Y. 2019).  The court dismissed this case and did not address these arguments because the Plaintiff had only applied for a copyright, but not received registration when it brought the suit.  In 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion, holding that a copyright registration is mandatory before bringing a copyright infringement lawsuit.

Another celebrity, Odell Beckham Jr., sued a photo agency arguing the photos and the agency’s later attempt to extort money from Beckham for posting the pictures of him on his social media violated his right to publicity.  Beckham V. Splash News and Picture Agency, LLC et al., 2:18-cv-01001-JTM-JCW (E.D. La. 2018).  This case settled before the court addressed these arguments.

fortnite-copyright-orange-shirt-kid-trademark-lawsuit-300x229The Orange Shirt Kid sued Fortnite’s creator for copyright and trademark infringement for using his signature “Random” dance moves and catchphrase “It’s also a great exercise move!” in the wildly popular videogame.  The Kid shot to YouTube stardom in 2018 after posting his Random dance video and catchphrase.  Fortnite is a free-to-play video game that generates income from in-game purchases, including avatars performing dances.  The complaint alleges:

Like selling a cheap knockoff, Defendants sold the Random dance in-game and simply renamed it to “Orange Justice.”  However, the Orange Justice and the Random are one and the same.  Indeed, this is made plain by the caption text that accompanies the Orange Justice that is the same as the Orange Shirt Kid’s Catchphrase “It’s also a great exercise move” as well as the name of the emote—“Orange Justice” is an obvious reference to “Orange Shirt Kid.”  Defendants did not credit Orange Shirt Kid nor seek his consent to use, display, reproduce, sell, or create a derivative work based upon Orange Shirt Kid’s Random dance or likeness in Fortnite. Defendants also did not seek his consent to use the Catchphrase in Fortnite.

The Orange Shirt Kid’s lawsuit is the latest in a string of similar suits alleging Fortnite creators copied other people’s dance moves for sale in the videogame.  The complaint references Epic Games, Inc.’s alleged copying of “the Backpack Kid’s ‘Floss’ dance (which is known by the same name in-game)…Alfonso Ribeiro’s performance of his famous dance on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air television show (named the “Fresh” emote)…and 2 Milly’s ‘Milly Rock’ dance (named the ‘Swipe It’ emote).”

chair-design-patent-copyright-furnitureAmini designs and sells unique furniture at various tradeshows and through distributors and its furniture designs are featured in magazines and on popular websites.  Amini obtains intellectual property protection for its furniture designs, including three copyright registrations (Reg. Nos. VA 1-627-918; VA 1-627-828; VA 1-627-832) and three design patents (Design Patent Nos. D592,893 for a table; D644,852 for a China cabinet-buffet; and D576,409 for a chair).  These registrations are for various items such as china cabinets, arm chairs, and tables.

Amini is suing Cosmos Furniture, both its U.S. and Canadian companies, for copyright infringement, design patent infringement, and breach of settlement agreements.  In a prior litigation, Amini sued Cosmos Canada for copyright infringement and design patent infringement.  Before trial, Cosmos Canada settled by agreeing to cease sales of the accused furniture and removing the products from their website.  This 2009 agreement extended to all companies, affiliates, and employees related to Cosmos Canada, which includes Cosmos U.S.

In 2011, Amini allegedly learned that many of the items in the settlement agreement were reintroduced to the website and still sold.  Amini notified Cosmos and another settlement agreement was reached.  This second settlement agreement required Cosmos to exercise due diligence to avoid infringing Amini’s designs, and specifically itemized Amini’s intellectual property rights that could not be violated.

copyright-infringement-script-tv-show-animal-practice-nbc.jpgDuckHole, Inc. is the copyright assignee in a treatment for a television series entitled “Pets,” created by Paul J. Andre in 2010. Mr. Andre, however, did the unthinkable: he registered his treatment with the Writers Guild of America. WRITERS, repeat after me: I WILL NOT WASTE MY MONEY REGISTERING MY WRITTEN WORK WITH THE WGA or SAG. I WILL FILE A COPYRIGHT REGISTRATION APPLICATION INSTEAD.

Why pay for a WGA registration when it affords no significant protection in court? In fact, the WGA shreds your submission after five years and is absolutely useless if the infringement begins in the sixth year.

  • To avail yourself of the advantages available under the law, you must register your screenplay, treatment, or script with the U.S. Copyright Office.

copyright-non-infringement-destroy-evidence-pringle-black-eyed-peas-summary-judgment-dismiss.jpgSongwriter Bryan Pringle sued the Black Eyed Peas and others, including David Guetta, for copyright infringement asserting that their “I Gotta Feeling” song copied elements of his “Take a Dive” song, which he copyrighted in 1998. Click here for details of the initial complaint and an audio comparison of the two songs. The Court granted Defendants’ summary judgment motion finding that the song does not infringe Pringle’s copyright, which it found to be invalid, and dismissed Pringle’s claim as a sanction for his willful destruction of evidence, namely the hard drive that Defendants could’ve used to prove his backdating of the creation date of “Take a Dive” dance version.

Pringle claimed that he created the dance version with the eight-bar guitar twang sequence in 1999 and backed up his creation file onto an NRG image file, which is a disc image file that contains a series of separate sound files for each individual instrument in the song. He then claimed that the music equipment and hard drives he used to create the dance version were stolen in 2000. Before the lawsuit was filed, defense counsel sent detailed correspondence to Pringle’s counsel expressing concern about his alleged creation dates of two CDs with the two versions of his song and communicated Pringle’s duty to preserve all evidence, including his computer records to allow investigation of altered dates of creation. Pringle’s counsel agreed and advised that he was preserving evidence.

Pringle then filed a copyright application for the dance version, seeking registration for the sound recording and the musical composition of the guitar twang sequence, which was the only new material added to the original version. In December of 2010, Pringle delivered to his expert a CD-Rom with the NRG files, but in January of 2011 Pringle got rid of the hard drive, copying only “relevant files” but not making a backup copy of the entire hard drive. When asked to produce all hard drives used in 2009, ’10, and ’11, Pringle did not produce any, although he had copied data from a 2011 hard drive for his expert.

copyright-registration-attorney-application-los-angeles.jpgLos Angeles, CA – The United States Copyright Office, as of July 1, 2008, began accepting electronic filings of copyright applications for registration. The Copyright Office provided tips for navigating the new online copyright registration system, named electronic Copyright Office (eCO). A frequently asked question (FAQ) page is provided on the Copyright Office website to address the most common concerns. Also, an eCO tutorial is provided to familiarize users with the new online registration format. Currently, the following basic copyright claims can be registered through the eCO: literary works, visual arts works, performing arts works, sound recordings, motion pictures, and single serial issues.

The advantages of e-filing of copyright applications include:

  • Lower filing fee of $35 for a basic copyright claim (for online filings only)