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Entertainment Law
South Texas College of Law Houston
Downey, Daniel

Entertainment Law Outline
Fall 2013 – Downey
Chapter 1 – Copyright Provisions
I.                    Statutory Provisions
a.       Original work of authorship in any tangible medium of expression
                                                               i.      Includes:
1.       Literary works
2.       Musical works
3.       Dramatic works
4.       Pantomimes and choreographic works
5.       Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
6.       Motion pictures and other audiovisual works
7.       Sound recordings
8.       Architectural works
b.       Exclusive Rights
                                                               i.      Copy/produce
                                                              ii.      Prepare derivative works
                                                            iii.      Distribute to public for sale or lease
                                                            iv.      Distribute for literary, dramatization, motion picture, or for choreography, the right to perform publicly
                                                             v.      Right to display publicly
                                                            vi.      Right to make sound recording
II.                  Proof of Copyright Infringement
a.       Basic Elements of Copyright Infringement
                                                               i.      Ownership of the copyright
1.       Proof
a.       Certificate of registration is prima facie proof of ownership
2.       Originality – the particular work owns its origin to the author
a.       Need not be new, just original
b.       No large novelty requirement, but must make more than a trivial contribution to the work
3.       Presumption originality extends for five years from the date of registration
                                                              ii.      Defendant copied protected elements of plaintiff’s work; and
1.       Jury question
2.       Proof:
a.       Direct evidence; OR
                                                                                                                                       i.      Word for word copying
b.       Circumstantial Evidence
                                                                                                                                       i.      Access; and
1.       An opportunity to view or copy plaintiff’s work
a.       Mere lapse of time between the moment of access and creation of defendant’s work does not preclude finding of copying
2.       Either defendant had direct contact with the work OR defendant had a reasonable opportunity to view plaintiff’s work before creating own work AND access was not a mere possibility
3.       Prove access by showing:
a.       Chain of Events; or
                                                                                                                                                                                                               i.      There was a chain of events between plaintiff and defendant’s access to plaintiff’s work
b.       Wide Dissemination
                                                                                                                                                                                                               i.      Plaintiff’s work has been so widely disseminated there was no way defendant would not have had access/heard it before
                                                                                                                                                                                                              ii.      Ex: Subconscious copying, wide sale of sheet music records, famous hits
4.       Close Relationship Doctrine
a.       Where a close relationship exists between defendant and a third party intermediary who conclusively had access to plaintiff’s work
                                                                                                                                                                                                               i.      Presumption defendant had access to plaintiff’s work as well
5.       Bare Corporate Receipt
a.       Unsolicited and undocumented mailing to a production company with only an acknowledgement of receipt of the letter does not constitute access
                                                                                                                                                                                                               i.      Look to the production company’s policies
b.       Ex: mailing song to CEO of Sony and claiming Mariah Carey had access
                                                                                                                                      ii.      Probative Similarity; or
1.       Proof:
a.       Intrinsic Evidence (Jury Question); and
                                                                                                                                                                                                               i.      Subjective – whether an ordinary, reasonable person would find the total concept and feel of the works to be substantially similar
b.       Extrinsic Evidence (Expert Opinion)
                                                                                                                                                                                                               i.      Objective – whether the expert, based on objective criteria, believes there are concrete elements
                                                                                                                                                                                                              ii.      Test for similarity of ideas under which analytical dissection and expert testimony are appropriate
                                                                                                                                                                                                            iii.      Look at the similarity of unprotected elements
                                                                                                                                                                                                            iv.      Look to title hook phrasing, shifting cadence, instrumental figures, verse/chorus relationship, melody, harmony, rhythm, pitch, tempo, phrasing, chord progression, lyrics, etc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                             v.      So long as plaintiff can demonstrate through expert testimony that addresses some or all of the elements and supports that the similarities are substantial to the protected elements, the extrinsic test is satisfied
2.       Inverse Ratio Rule – when there is greater evidence of access, less probative similarity is needed
                                                                                                                                    iii.      Striking Similarity
1.       Are the two works so strikingly similar as to preclude the possibility of independent creation
a.       Similarity between the two songs is so strong as to create an inference of access (if reasonable)
b.       Don’t need to prove access at all
2.       If evidence of access is not present, the similarities must be so striking as to preclude the possibility that plaintiff and defendant independently arrived at the same result
a.       Not merely a function of the number of identical notes that appear in both compositions
3.       Factors to consider:
a.       Uniqueness of the sections which are asserted to be similar
b.       Complaining work takes an unexpected departure from normal metric structure or includes an error that defendant’s work includes
c.        If similar sections are particularly intricate
d.       Some dissimilarities may be suspect
4.       Proof:
a.       Need more than a conclusory affidavit from an expert
5.       Proof of striking similarity is equal to:
a.       Proof of probative similarity;
b.       Inference of access; AND

c.        Copyright owner has the exclusive right to “sample” his own recording
d.       Fair Use
                                                               i.      Question of law and fact
                                                              ii.      Allows minimum use of copyright material without the permission of a copyright owner
1.       Whether copyright’s goal of promoting the progress of science is better served by allowing the use than by preventing it
                                                            iii.      Four factors to determine if fair use exists
1.       Purpose and Character of Use
a.       Is it criticism, comment, new reporting, etc.
b.       Transformative or not
                                                                                                                                       i.      Transformative if altering the original with new expression, meaning, or message
1.       The more transformative, the more likely fair use is viable
2.       Comes into play with parody
                                                                                                                                      ii.      Focus on whether the new work merely replaces the object of the original creation, or instead adds a further purpose or different character
                                                                                                                                    iii.      The more transformative, the less significant commercial distinction will be
c.        Commercial or non-commercial
                                                                                                                                       i.      Commercial purpose is not determinative or presumptive against fair use
                                                                                                                                      ii.      Commercial use demonstrated by showing that repeated and exploitative unauthorized copies of copyrighted work were made to save the expense of purchasing authorized copies
                                                                                                                                    iii.      Sampling remains a commercial use even if some users eventually purchase the music
                                                                                                                                    iv.      Greater the private economic reward acquired by the secondary user (to the exclusion of the broader public benefits), the less likely the use will be considered fair
d.       Parody can be fair use if parodic character can be reasonably perceived
                                                                                                                                       i.      Defendant must show the parody does not unfairly diminish the economic value of the original
e.        Defendant’s state of mind is irrelevant in fair use determination
2.       Nature of Copyrighted Work
a.       The value of the materials used
b.       Two relevant distinctions:
                                                                                                                                       i.      Whether the work is expressive or creative, such as a work of fiction, or merely factual