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Entertainment Law
South Texas College of Law Houston
Downey, Daniel

Entertainment Law
Fall 2009
Judge Downey
Test: 30 MC, 1 essay on CR and TM
Copyright Infringement
CR Trying to protect the creative Ideas Behind the Copyrighted Work
Goal: to stimulate the creation and publication, promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts
1.     Scope: What Can or Cannot be Copyrighted??
a.      Can CR
                                                              i.      Original work of authorship in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.  Including:
1.      Literary Works
2.      Musical Works, including Accompanying Words
3.      Dramatic Works, including any accompanying Music
4.      Pantomimes and Choreographic Works
5.      Pictorial, Graphic, and Sculptural Works
6.      Motion Pictures and Other Audiovisual Works
7.      Sound Recordings and
8.      Architectural Works
                                                           ii.      Includes compilation and derivative works
b.      Cannot CR
                                                              i.      In no case does CR protection of an original work extend to any
1.      Idea
2.      Procedure
3.      Process
4.      System
5.      Method of operation
6.      Concept
7.      Principle
8.      Or discovery
                                                           ii.      Title of a Song
                                                         iii.      Scenes a Faire
                                                         iv.      A Sound not fixed in tangible medium
                                                            v.      Ideas by themselves – only expression of ideas is
c.       New “Use”
                                                              i.      Ex: Licensor grants license for a particular use (in Motion Pictures) to Licensee; technology advances, and develop video cassettes; P argues cassettes not in definition of “new use”
1.      Court: yes, since the grant was for uses and Licensor retained anything he did not grant à if not expressly put in the license, the “use” includes avenues/uses that may fall w/in the medium described
2.     6 Exclusive rights of CR owner
a.      Copy/Produce
b.      Prepare Derivative
c.       Distribute to Public for Sale/Lease
d.     Distribute for Literary, Dramatization, Motion Pictures or For Choreography, the right to perform publicly
e.      Right to Display publicly
f.        Right to make sound recording
3.     Standing   §501
a.      Legal of Beneficial Owner
                                                              i.      Allowed to bring suit for infringement that occurred during their period of ownership
b.      CR Owner
c.       If Deceased:
                                                              i.      Heir
                                                           ii.      Widow/er
                                                         iii.      Next of Kin
d.     Assignee
                                                              i.      Allowed to bring suit for infringement that occurred during their period of assignment
1.      Even after assignment ended
                                                           ii.      But the right to bring COA must be granted in the assignment
1.      If not listed, Assignee does NOT have right to bring suit
4.     Duration of Copyright
a.      Duration:
                                                              i.      § 304 à Before Jan. 1 1976:
1.      28 years duration from date originally secured
                                                           ii.      § 302 à On or After Jan. 1, 1976:
1.      Life of author + 70 years after death
b.      Renewal – if the author is not living when the original CR term has expired, then the author’s widow, widower, or children shall be entitled to the CR renewals
                                                              i.      § 304 à Before or on Jan. 1, 1976
1.      47 years from expiration of original term
                                                           ii.      § 302 à After Jan. 1, 1976 –
1.      70 years after death of author
c.       §302(c) – Anonymous Works or Works-for-Hire
                                                              i.      CR endures for a terms of 95 years from the year of its first publication, or a terms of 120 years from the years of its creation, which ever expires first
d.     §302(e) – Presumption of Death
                                                              i.      After a period of 95 years from the year of first publication or for a period of 120 years from year of creation, whichever expires first, anyone who obtains report stating that nothing indicates the author is living or dies less than 70 years before, is entitled to the benefit of a presumption that the author has been dead for at least 70 years
e.      Termination Rights – §304
                                                              i.      The exclusive or non-exclusive grant or transfer or license of the renewal CR or any right under it, executed before Jan. 1, 1978, is subject to termination under the following conditions:
1.      Where the author is dead, his or her termination interest is owned, and may be exercised by his widow/widower/children/grandchildren
2.      Termination of the grant may be effected at any time during a period of 5 years beginning at the end of the 56 years from the date CR was originally secured or beginning on Jan. 1, 1978, whichever is later
f.        Reversion Rights
                                                              i.      Upon termination, all rights possessed by anyone reverted back to author’s heirs, including the right to license uses of the song and receive royalties
5.     Definitions
a.      Motif – musical fragments or succession of notes that has some special importance in or is characteristic of a composition (short musical phrase usually consisting of a few notes)
b.      Rhythm – the time values and relationships between the notes – valuation of the length of a series of sounds or other accents
c.       Musical Meter – # of lines in a verse, # of syllables in each line, and arrangement of those syllables as long or short (EX:  row row row your boat, gently down the stream)
d.     Melody – a function of both pitch and rhythm of a series of notes; an element or a component in a decorative composition – tune, voice, or linear succession of musical tones which is perceived in a single entity
e.      Harmony – Use of simultaneous pitch and chords
f.        Metrical Character –
g.      Sheet Music – on what a composition is printed
h.      Composition – an original piece of music; the structure of a musical piece; the process of creating new piece of music (a piece of music exists in the form of a composition)
i.        Sound Recording [CR Act] – must result from the fixation of a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds regardless of the nature of the material objects, such as disks, tapes or other phonorecords, in which they are embedded
j.        Rhythmic Impulse – basic beat of any piece of music (like tapping your feet to music)
k.      Rhythmic Character – either strong or weak – strong means the recurrence of heavy, strong, regular accentuation and the distinction b/w strong and weal accents
l.        Pitch – the steps, or tones, on the scale; particular tonal standards with which given tones may be compared (fundamental frequency of sound – subjective sensation)
m.   Mode – a concept involving scale and melody type (a grouping or arrangement of notes in a scale with respect to the most important note, and the patterns of larger and smaller steps which these notes form
n.      Scale – any series of tones arranged in a step-by-step rising or falling order of pitch
o.      Phonorecords – material objects in which sounds, other than that accompanying a motion picture or other audio visual work, are fixed by any methods known, now or later
                                                              i.      “fixed in a tangible medium” = embodied in a copy or phonorecord by or under authority of author, which is sufficiently permanent or stable to permit it to be perceived, reproduced for a period for more than a transitory duration
p.     Melismas – the singing of a single syllable of text while moving b/w several notes in succession
q.      Appoggiaturas –
r.       Ornamenting a Note – embellishing the pitch or melody, musical flourishments
s.       Timbre – quality of a musical note or sound or tone that distinguishes different types of sound production, such as voices or musical instruments (what people use to distinguish b/w a saxophone and a trumpet in a jazz group)
t.        Consonance –

·   Melody
·   Harmony
·   Rhythm
·   Pitch
·   Tempo
·   Phrasing
·   Chord progression
·   Lyrics
·   Timbre
·   Combinations
·   Spatial organization
·   Basslines
·   So long as the P can demonstrate through expert testimony that address some or all of these elements and supports that the similarities are substantial and to protected elements, the extrinsic test is satisfied
Proof of Striking Similarity =
1.     Proof of Probative Similarity;
2.     Inference of Access;  AND
3.     Is Prima Facie Proof of Copying
No need to prove access or PS
Depending on JRX: SS cannot standing alone prove copying – look to all the facts and circumstances
–          Some JRX: no matter how similar the works are, there is no PER SE striking simil.
Texas: Beoynce Case – if you show SS, no need to show Acces
Inverse Ratio Rule:  Where you have greater Access, less Probative Similarity is needed
                                                                                                                                 iii.   (3) Striking Similarity
a.      Are the two works so strikingly similar as to preclude the possibility of independent creation
                                                                                                                                                                                            i.      Similarity b/w the two songs that are so similar as to create an inference of access   
b.      If evidence of access is absent, the similarities must be so striking as to preclude the possibility that the P and D independently arrived at the same result
                                                                                                                                                                                            i.      Not merely a function of the number of identical notes that appear in both compositions
c.       Important Factors to Consider:
                                                                                                                                                                                            i.      Uniqueness of the section which are asserted to be similar
                                                                                                                                                                                         ii.      Complaining work take unexpected departure from normal metric structure or includes an error and D’s work does the same thing
                                                                                                                                                                                       iii.      If similar sections are particularly intricate
                                                                                                                                                                                       iv.      Some dissimilarities may be suspect:
1.      i.e., inserted in a crude effort to give appearance of dissimilarity
d.     Proof:
                                                                                                                                                                                            i.      Must be more than a conclusory affidavit of an expert
                                                         iii.      Subconscious Copying: this is NOT a defense – so long as P proves you copied enough of a protected element, you are liable, even if copying done subconsciously