This post was originally published on GSB's website as a GSB client update on April 2, 2019.
On March 4th, the Supreme Court ruled that copyright owners must wait to file an infringement suit until the Copyright Office has registered the work. The unanimous opinion, authored by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.Com, LLC, affirmed the Eleventh Circuit and resolved a split among the circuit courts of appeal. The decision has significant implications for copyright holders and contract or legislation drafters, and comes at a time of change.
Kristyn Fields is a former Garvey Schubert Barer legal extern who worked out of the firm's New York office. She was a law student at Brooklyn Law School.
Since the Aereo case, the debate over whether online television services should be regulated in the same way that cable providers are rages on in California federal court, with the recent case against the streaming service FilmOn X (“FilmOn”). FilmOn is facing copyright infringement claims from television networks and countering those claims by asserting that it is eligible for the same compulsory license as other broadcast providers. On July 16, 2015, Judge George Wu agreed with FilmOn’s defense, ruling that the company should be treated as a traditional cable provider and is entitled to a Section 111 compulsory license.
Website owners are battling or quietly settling an increasing number of copyright infringement claims for images posted without permission. To avoid such claims, webmasters should be careful to make sure they have the proper permission from the copyright owner. Just because an image is on the Internet and easy to cut and paste from another website, Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites does not mean it can be re-used without permission. Images are protected even if they do not display the symbol ©. Save yourself headaches and legal fees by first going through the proper channels to obtain the clearances you need to use others’ images. This article focuses on copyright issues but depending on how a photograph is used on your website, other permissions may be needed. For example, publicity rights laws may require that you obtain permission from the people in the photograph, and trademark laws may require permission from the owner of any logo or branding appearing in the photo.
The Sports, Arts and Entertainment Group at Garvey Schubert Barer provides full service legal representation on sports, entertainment and business matters, including handling transactions related to brand management, licensing, joint ventures, venture capital, private equity, technology, the Internet and new media.