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Plagiarizing The American President

*Photo courtesy of Australian Television Program "Sunrise"

Anthony Albanese, Australian transport minister, had this to say in an attack against the Liberal Party Opposition Leader Tony Abbot:

"In Australia we have serious challenges to solve and we need serious people to solve them. Unfortunately, Tony Abbott is not the least bit interested in fixing anything. He is only interested in two things: making Australians afraid of it and telling them who’s to blame for it."

Does this sound familiar? Michael Douglas gave a similar speech, written by The Social Network screen writer Aaron Sorkin, in the 1995 film The American President:

"We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who's to blame for it."

According to the The Hollywood Reporter, the films international distributor, Universal Pictures, has not taken any steps to bring action against the Aussie politician... yet. It could be argued by the studios legal team that Albanese was in violation of Australia's Copyright Act of 1968, which assures dramatic works from being reproduced in "substantial part."

"Of course, the speech was hardly a commercial endeavor and it's possible that the appropriation was merely de minimis under Australian law," wrote The Hollywood Reporter. "And it should be noted that the quoted excerpt in Sorkin's screen speech in The American President was preceded by these words: "You want free speech?" asks Douglas rhetorically. "Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs things you would spend your lifetime opposing at the top of yours."

After the news broke that Albanese's speech was not an original work, Albanese took to twitter: "D'oh! Stuff up (for the record, that comes from another great American, Homer Simpson)," he tweeted.

You can view the speeches side by side on YouTube, courtesy of the Australian morning television show Sunrise. Sorry Mr. Albanese, you're no Michael Douglas.

YouTube: Aussie politician caught using lines from The American President in speech

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Going Mobile: 5 Tips on Mobile App Creation

Do you have the next great mobile app idea? Here are 5 tips on the legal side of Mobile App Creation:

Due Diligence. Basically, do your homework. Google your idea and find out if a similar app already exists. Its better to do the leg work at this stage of the game then down the road when you have put money into development.

Preliminary Protection. A lot of the time, people want to talk about their idea to gain feedback or simply want to talk about it out of pure excitement. Please don't ... unless, of course, you have a signed Non-Disclosure Agreement. Not all NDA's are the same. This is such an important point in the early stages of development that I am going to state it again: Not all NDA's are the same. You need one specifically for Intellectual Property Rights. Also, be careful of other parties, such as Mobile App Developers, asking you to sign their NDA. Most likely it is written to protect their company's interest and not yours. Have a lawyer read it over to make sure that you are keeping full control of your intellectual property.

Ownership. Who owns the intellectual property? Once the app is built, who owns the rights? Did you use a work-for-hire agreement*? Are there multiple authors meaning joint ownership? Or, is it just you? Ownership must be established before you can take the next step and acquire advanced protection.

Advanced Protection. Can't I just copyright the idea? Unfortunately, you cannot. However, you can copyright the code used to write the app, artwork, text, etc. In order to keep the copyright in your name, you would need to write the code yourself or hire a programmer on work-for-hire terms. Once the code is written and artwork designed, then it can be filed for protection with the copyright office. At this stage, you can also search to see if your app is something that can be patented. To be on the safe side, register all your materials with the copyright and patent office before the app is launched.

License / Assignment. For most people, this is the most important part because this is how your app makes its revenue. One of the more common ways is by having companies or individuals purchase a license to your app. There are two types of licenses: exclusive and non-exclusive. An exclusive license means you license your app to a company or individual with exclusive terms of use such as a certain geography or client base. For example, Company A wants an exclusive license for North America. This means you cannot license your app to another company or individual in North America. You could, however, give an exclusive license to Company B in Europe. A non-exclusive license allows you to licenses to Company A in North America, but also to anyone else who would want to purchase a license in North America.

Another option is an assignment. In an assignment, you have the option to sell all your rights or sell (or assign) select rights that you have in copyright. For example, in a copyright, you can assign the right to reproduce and the right to distribute, but you might retain the right to make derivatives. Remember, with any assignment, whether you are assigning all or part of the various rights, you are selling your ownership, just as if you were selling your house.

* Work-for-Hire describes works that are produced for somebody else. The person who hires the creator holds the copyright to the finished work.

Related posts:

Does your Business Need Cash?
See the four part series on Starting a Business:
Part I: Laying a good foundation
Part II: More than one owner
Part III: Safe-guard your product
Part IV: Choosing your Corporate Counsel

"Happy Birthday" Will Cost You

Did you know that the “Happy Birthday” song, formally known as “Happy Birthday to You”, is the most recognized song in the english language? Then why is it that your favorite restaurant has decided to steer away from the highly popular song and create their own celebratory ditty? Its because the restaurant does not want to pay royalties. Yes, the "Happy Birthday" song is copyrighted. The song comes from the tune "Good Morning to All", written by two sisters, Patty and Mildred J. Hill in 1893. Their "Good Morning to You" song became so popular with Patty's kindergarten class that, myth has it, the sisters began singing it at their students birthdays changing the lyrics to "Happy Birthday". According to Wikipedia, the following is the copyright history and terms:

In 1935, "Happy Birthday to You" was copyrighted as a work for hire by Preston Ware Orem for the Summy Company, the publisher of "Good Morning to All". A new company, Birch Tree Group Limited, was formed to protect and enforce the song's copyright. In 1998,[10] the rights to "Happy Birthday to You" and its assets were sold to The Time-Warner Corporation. In March 2004, Warner Music Group was sold to a group of investors led by Edgar Bronfman Jr. The company continues to insist that one cannot sing the "Happy Birthday to You" lyrics for profit without paying royalties: in 2008, Warner collected about $5000 per day ($2 million per year) in royalties for the song.[2], pp. 4,68 This includes use in film, television, radio, anywhere open to the public, or even among a group where a substantial number of those in attendance are not family or friends of whoever is performing the song. For this reason, most restaurants or other public party venues will not allow their employees to perform the song in public, instead opting for other original songs or cheers in honor of the birthday celebrant.

In many countries, including the United States, copyright lasts the lifetime of the author plus 70 years. In this case, since it was a work for hire, the standard is not 70 years post death of the last surviving author, but 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever comes first. Assuming, the song still enjoys U.S. copyright protection, and assuming its first publication date was 1935, the copyright would be valid until 2030.

 

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happy_Birthday_to_You
Music Permission: Cover Songs Are Not the Answer

*cover song - a recording of a song that was first recorded or made popular by somebody else; "they made a cover of a Beatles' song".  Definition provided by: thefreedictionary.com

When uploading a video to YouTube, most people like adding music to go with their imagery. Well, unless you own the rights to the music, you need to get permission. I heard someone say, "No problem, I'll just get my friends band to do a cover song". Although, I do enjoy cover songs immensely, you still need permission from the original author to use it. Good ole copyright law getting in the way again. If you turn the tables and you are the artists, you're pretty happy about that right now.

"But Mom told me to share!" How Sharing Online Content Can Have Consequences

From an early age, we are taught that we should share with other people.  Whether it is toys or time, we become better people if we share our talents and treasures.  With the proliferation of the internet and online digital technologies, sharing has never been easier; however, it is not with out consequences.

Photographs, stories, videos, and articles are just a sampling of the various types of content out there that many of us put on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz, and MySpace.  But are we free to just post such content? We have free speech to say what we want under the First Amendment, right?

Not so fast. While we are certainly free to post anything that is originally created by us, we can’t place other peoples’ content online without their permission.  For example, if we see an article that we like, we cannot copy it in its entirety and place it in our blog. We also can’t copy it in its entirety and email it to our distribution list.  We need the author or copyright owner’s permission in order to do so (unless the article falls within the parameters of the Fair Use Doctrine, but that's for another post)

So what about those "Share" buttons we see neatly arranged at the beginning or end of an article? So long as we are sharing a link (URL) to a particular article, citing the source of the article, and letting the person(s) to whom you are sharing know where you found the article, you can continue to enjoy spreading the news without worrying about a claim that you are infringing on someone else’s work.

All in all, we can still share online as Mom originally taught us.  We just want to share responsibly, so we can avoid unpleasant consequences under copyright law.

Google Images are not Royalty Free, Get Permission


Are you a blogger? A lot of people like to add a photograph to their blog post and will grab an image off of Google Images or other search engines. This is actually Copyright Infringement. The images found on a search engine are not owned by the search engine and therefore they cannot grant you permission to use the image. The copyright lies with the creator (or any person/company who has bought the image from the photographer). The moment a photograph is created the image automatically becomes the copyrighted property of the photographer. In order to use photographs that you do not own, you must gain the permission of the images creator. This is an absolute if you are using the image or content in products for resale, license or other distribution. Even if you are using an image for purposes such a blog, e-newsletter or website, you still must have permission from the author to use the content. What if I credit the source? Crediting the source is a step in the right direction, but you still should always ask for permission or purchase the content before use. Some photographers do not mind and even love the exposure, and others, well, they want their royalties.

**From Google's Permissions web page

Google Logo and Screenshot Permissions:
" You don’t need our permission when you want to use a standard, unaltered Google screenshot (an image of our homepage or search results page) in either print (book, magazine, journal, newspaper) or digital (web page, DVD, CD) formats for an instructive or illustrative purpose. Examples include screenshots of:

• a Google search results page
• search results indicating where sponsored links are
• an Advanced Search page
• search results for a query you show

This use must be unaltered: You can’t superimpose graphics, photos, or ad copy on the screenshot or change the look of the screen-captured image in any other way.

Please note that using a screenshot of a Google search results page in connection with advertising your products or services (for instance, showing a top ranking on Google) is not considered instructive or illustrative, and therefore is not permitted."

Click here for more information about Google permissions

Why should I copyright my work? Ask Polaroid.

A few days ago I ordered a decal for my iPhone thru an online store that shall remain nameless. The decal was of a 70’s OneStep Polaroid Land Camera that would go on the back of the phone. Not only does the decal add a unique style to the phone, but it also acts as protection for the phone. Yesterday, I received an email from the nameless online company stating that they had received a cease and desist letter from the Polaroid Corporation in regards to the decal I, and many others, had ordered. In an effort to support Polaroid, the nameless online company pulled the product from their website. They hope to work with Polaroid and re-release the item.

If you are a creator of any kind, take note from Polaroid. Having your brand, intellectual properties and products protected can mean the difference between a one-time sale of your product or idea, and a lifetime of licensing and royalty income. It doesn’t matter if you are a large company like Polaroid (with Lady Gaga as your Creative Director, no I’m not kidding) or a startup T-shirt company, safeguard yourself and copyright your work.