Tag Archives | copyright

Can you copyright a chicken sandwich?

Copyright laws can be tricky, especially when dealing with anything other than the typical copyrighted materials.

“Colón claims that SARCO violated his intellectual property rights for both the “recipe” of the Pechu Sandwich and the name of the item itself,” an appeal from the U. S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico says.”He asserts that the term Pechu Sandwich is a creative work, of which he is the author.

The suit might read to some like parody. But Colón saw little humor in the way things unfolded. The sandwich and its name were the products of his imagination, and he believed he was due $10 million dollars in damages.But those are millions the Puerto Rican chicken sandwich whisperer will never see. Last Friday, a U.S. appeals court panel ruled that sandwiches, especially unremarkable chicken sandwiches, are not copyrightable.

 Full story at Man tries to copyright a chicken sandwich,
learns that that’s completely ridiculous

Learn more about the ins and outs of copyright with our Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers ebook.

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Who owns the rights to Goebbels’ Diaries?

A Munich appeals court could Thursday rule in favor of the daughter of a Nazi grandee who is demanding a share of the revenues from a biography of Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s minister of propaganda.

“Goebbels” by Peter Longerich

“Goebbels” by Peter Longerich

The higher regional court will hold a hearing on the case about “Goebbels” by Peter Longerich, professor of modern German history at Royal Holloway, University of London. The judges could rule on the case the same day, said a court spokesman.

Cordula Schacht—daughter of Hjalmar Schacht, Adolf Hitler’s economics minister—claims to have inherited the copyright to Mr. Goebbels’ diaries, and to be entitled to royalties for the publication of any excerpts from them.

Ms. Schacht has so far only claimed a share of revenues from sales of the German version which has been on sale since 2010. The English-language version of the biography is due to hit shelves May 7.

More details at: Publisher Awaits Verdict on Quoting Goebbels’ Diaries – WSJ

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Planning for Copyright Permissions

Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers This excerpt is from chapter three: Obtaining and Managing Copyright Permissions of Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers. As copyright is the lifeblood of publishers, a basic knowledge of copyright law is crucial to working effectively with authors on such issues as transfers of copyright, terms of copyright, terminations and ownership.

Publishers deal with permissions to use copyrighted content on a daily basis. Chapter 3 addresses permissions to include portions of copyrighted books, articles, etc., in a publisher’s own works as well as granting permission to use works on which the publisher holds the copyright.

This chapter is broken down into tips on Obtaining Permissions as well as Granting Permissions.


Including portions of others’ works in something that a publisher is producing likely requires permission in order to avoid infringement of the copyright. Recall, however, that not everything is subject to copyright protection such as facts, book titles, names of authors, etc. Further, not every use of a copyrighted work requires permission.

Who, What and When

Determining whom to contact for permission may be confusing since identifying who owns the rights to a copyrighted work is complicated. As a general rule, one is obligated to contact the rights holder, i.e., the individual or organization that owns the rights. For literary works, this is most often the publisher, but could be the author, the heirs of the author or an organization. A first step is to check the Copyright Office registration records.

Orphan Works

In the case of an orphan work, the copyright owner is either unknown or cannot be located. The 2006 U.S. Copyright Office Orphan Works study recommended that, after someone uses best practices to identify and locate the copyright holder but fails, if the person proceeds with the use of the work without permission, he/she would not be liable for damages.

Proof and Attribution

Attribution means including a statement that credits the author with writing the work. Failure to attribute may result in a plagiarism charge, plus it is not good business practice for a publisher to fail to credit an author for his/her work. Attribution does not substitute for permission to reproduce, however, and could even result in an infringement action.

Implied Licenses

Courts rely on the custom and practice of the community involved to determine the scope of an implied license. It is risky to rely on an implied license in a commercial setting rather than seeking permission.


Publishers also find themselves on the other side of the table when authors, other publishers, librarians and teachers approach them for permission to use portions of the works they have published. As a matter of business planning, publishers should develop clear policies on what types of permissions it will grant and which ones it will deny.

In-house Permissions Systems

To manage permissions in-house, publishers must dedicate staff time and effort to record permissions granted, handle royalties received, disburse the royalties to authors and others, and to ensure that similar requests are handled in the same manner. Today, computer systems can assist with this task, but still a system is required.

Use of a Royalty Collection Agency

Many publishers rely on the Copyright Clearance Center or iCopyright to manage copyright permissions for them. Both organizations have services for publishers that are discussed in Chapter 6.

Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers by Laura N. Gasaway and edited by Iris Hanney contains information vital to the publishing community.

Learn more about how copyright law affects your work or order it now.

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The UK Government Tackles Copyright Education

Mike Weatherley MP’s Forward to his report on Copyright Education and Awareness begins:

Big BenThe UK is an Intellectual Property (IP) rich country: we are an IP exporting economy. Our creative industries, technology businesses and service sectors, plus many others, are all underpinned by intellectual capital. IP even helps pay for the services we all treasure. The importance of creating, respecting and promoting IP for both inward and outward investment could not be greater.

My role over the last year as IP Adviser to the Prime Minister has reinforced my view that tackling IP related infringement is a complex and multi-layered challenge. There is not one answer. I have been clear from the outset that I believe all solutions must be guided by three main principles:

  • Education – winning the ‘hearts and minds’ of consumers about the importance of protecting IP.
  • Carrot – industry must change their models to be attractive to consumers.
  • Stick – when all else fails, enforcement. This includes wider issues about compliance as well, for example what the Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Search Engines, Advertisers and banking sectors can do to assist with compliance.

MP Weatherly reached out to others for support in his efforts to educate Britains about Intellectual Property and Copyright law through the school systems.


Intellectual property underpins our creative industries. It’s what our past success was built on and it’s what our future success depends on. We need to get the message across that if people value creativity – and most do – then it has to be paid for.

‘Education plays a vitally important role in changing people’s behaviour. By communicating the vital importance of copyright, not just to the success of our creative industries but to the many jobs these sectors will create, we hope to bring about behavioural change.

–Rt. Hon Sajid Javid MP,
Secretary of State for Culture, Media, and Sport

Our future creators need to know how to protect their creative output and innovation. Our future economic wellbeing lies with them. Artists, designers, musicians, scientists and engineers all need to understand IP. We can make IP part of the school curriculum, especially in design and technology lessons.

–Baroness Neville-Rolfe DBE CMG,
Minister for Intellectual Property

“In a digital world understanding IP and its importance is absolutely essential for people of all ages and particularly those who have grown up in this new world. Education about these issues is key to that understanding.”

–Kevin Brennan, MP for Cardiff West,
Shadow Minister for Schools

“We need a culture change in how creators’ IP rights are respected. The most effective way we can do this is through imaginative education initiatives which show the direct impact of piracy on artists’ livelihoods and the positive way that upholding their copyright enables them to benefit us all.”

–Lord Tim Clement Jones
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for
Culture, Media and Sport in the House of Lords

“Intellectual Property is a simple concept with a complicated reputation: we encourage pupils to write stories, paint pictures, take photographs and put on plays, so it is a small step to understand that those creations may have a value to society and can be traded. It’s critical that we help creators understand their rights have real value at the earliest possible stage in life. Government, industry, schools and teachers, need to play their respective parts to the full. We are at risk of losing a generation of people who don’t comprehend their right to benefit from copies of their works, or recognise how valuable this can be for their and society’s future.”

–Crispin Hunt
General Secretary Featured Artist
Coalition, Songwriter, Musician, Producer

As copyright is the lifeblood of publishers, a basic knowledge of copyright law is crucial to working effectively with authors on such issues as transfers of copyright, terms of copyright, terminations and ownership. Learn more in our Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers authored by Laura N. Gasaway and edited by Iris L. Hanney with a foreword by Tracey Armstrong.

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Praise for Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers

Publishing Quarterly Research Provides Critical Review

Cape Coral, FL (January 21, 2015) – Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers, an eBook geared specifically toward copyright issues faced by the publishing community, is the recipient of an outstanding review in Publishing Research Quarterly, an international forum for the publication of original peer-reviewed papers offering significant research and analyses on the full range of the publishing industry. This review was published online 21 October 2014 _ Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014.

Pocket Copyright Guide for PublishersAuthored by Laura N. Gasaway, Paul B. Eaton Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and published by Unlimited Priorities LLC®, a firm specializing in support for small and medium-size companies in the information and publishing industries, Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers posits that copyright is the lifeblood of publishers and provides a basic knowledge of copyright law crucial to the publishing community.

Daniel J. Gross is an attorney and in-house counsel at Myers Wolin LLC, an intellectual property law firm. In his review he writes that in a rapidly shifting publishing environment “…publishers do not always have a legal department to advise them on contract and copyright issues. Some don’t even have staff. It is critical that these publishers understand the rules of the game they are choosing to play—no matter how much they minimize their overhead. It is in this context that Laura Gasaway’s Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers shines—as a clear and concise rulebook for the game publishers choose to play.”

Discussing the book’s arrangement Mr. Gross observes: “While maintaining a narrow focus on copyright issues relevant to publishers, there is impressive depth within that focus. Gasaway deftly handles topics, such as reversions and terminations, which are critical to publishers but not fully understood by even seasoned lawyers outside of her specialty. Throughout each chapter, headings point publishers to topics and keywords they should be aware of, even if they need not fully digest the discussion provided.” As to critical issues “… Gasaway provides a narrative and allows publishers to gauge the depth of understanding they require. If further information is needed, she points publishers to resources beyond the scope of the book through thorough referencing.”

Regarding the subject of litigation Mr. Gross points out that “Gasaway wisely advises publishers on avoiding litigation. Particularly in the age of micro- and self-publication, a lawsuit could devastate companies just starting out.” However, he does go on to say that “…a good lawyer should work with the publisher to control costs, while improving the likelihood of achieving their goals.”

Mr. Gross concludes that Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers is “…a tremendously useful reference for publishers. Many of the books on my shelf are treatises, and a book covering similar scope may span three inches of real estate. This book limits its thickness to a mere fraction of an inch by maintaining a consistent focus on aspects of the law relevant to publishers, while outsourcing additional information through references. Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers provides a crucial book of rules, allowing publishers to painlessly become acquainted with the basics and seamlessly access further information when needed.”

About Unlimited Priorities

Unlimited Priorities LLC provides unique solutions to the wide variety of challenges facing both commercial and not-for-profit entities throughout the information community. From sales and marketing support to administrative and production issues, we offer effective resolutions. By integrating the diversified talents of our highly skilled group of professionals from all fields into their organizational structures, Unlimited Priorities provides clients with the flexibility to successfully attain their specific goals in a systematic and efficient manner while optimizing their financial and personnel resources.


Iris L. Hanney, President
Unlimited Priorities LLC®

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The “Poor Man’s Copyright” Method is a Myth

It sounds almost too good to be true: Instead of going through all the paperwork and hassle of registering a copyright, all you have to do is send your work to yourself by mail to be protected. It’s called “poor man’s copyright” and there’s only one problem with the process. It doesn’t exist.

On the plus-side, before you’ve officially registered for copyright, you’re still protected by copyright laws, which kick in “the moment the work is created.”

Read the rest at No, “Poor Man’s Copyright” Does Not Exist.

If you are a publisher, you know that copyright is the lifeblood of the industry. For copyright advice geared specifically for your use, check out our Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers.

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Listen to Copyright Answers In Your Pocket

If you’re confused about copyright, then you’re beginning to understand the problem. Yet when facing a thorny question on ownership, rights, licenses and enforcement, the answers now fit in a back pocket.

Beyond the BookFrom the basics of copyright protection to the challenges of the digital environment, the Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers has 122 concise and comprehensive pages of responses to copyright’s persistent questions. Authors and publishers can rely on every reply because Laura N. Gasaway respects balance as the first principle of copyright.

Listen to the podcast interview at  CCC’s Beyond the Book. If you would like to learn more about this important topic, don’t miss the free Copyright, Common Mistakes and Myths Webinar.

Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers by Laura N. Gasaway and edited by Iris Hanney contains information vital to the publishing community.

Learn more about how copyright law affects your work or order it now.

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Copyright Guide Table of Contents

Copyright law can be confusing…

The Pocket Copyright Guide for PublishersAuthored by Laura N. Gasaway, Paul B. Eaton Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers helps alleviate this problem.

Each chapter covers a specific topic including basics of copyright law; registration; assignments and transfers; granting and obtaining permission to reproduce copyrighted works; the use photographs, audiovisual works and other materials from websites; exceptions to copyright, such as fair use; licensing and collective rights societies; the digital environment; enforcement of copyright; international aspects of copyright; and industry trends.

  1. Copyright basics —  Requirements for obtaining a copyright, what is eligible for protection, authorship, works for hire, ownership, duration of copyright, exclusive rights of the copyright owner, the rights a publisher must have, what constitutes infringement, damages, etc.
  2. Registration of copyrights, assignments and transfers – Importance of copyright registration, how to register a work, obtaining assignments from the author or other copyright holder, transfers of copyright and recordation of transfers.  What happens to the copyright upon the death of the author, dealing with copyright heirs, and terminations of copyright after the statutory period for licenses expires.
  3. Permissions (seeking and granting) – How to seek permission to use copyrighted works in compilations and other works, the utility of establishing a system for granting permission for use of works for which the company holds copyright, and orphan works,
  4. Using photographs, music, audiovisual works and other nonprint materials from websites – Difficulties in determining the copyright status of these works, how to seek and document permissions, disclaimers, royalty free images, and decisions to use works without permission.
  5. Exceptions to copyright protection:  first sale, fair use, educational and library uses – Understanding fair use, first sale and other statutory exceptions to the Copyright Act, considering whether to grant greater rights to use works to certain institutions and individuals.
  6. Licensing and collective rights societies – Overview of major collective rights societies, determining whether to join a collective rights society, royalties, and Creative Commons licenses.
  7. The digital environment – Unique copyright problems the digital environment has created for publishers, necessary grant of rights, institutional repositories and open archives, and mass digitization cases.
  8. Enforcing copyrights – How publishers can enforce their rights without litigation, liability, criminal infringement, remedies and defenses, and license violations.
  9. International aspects – Protecting copyrights internationally, and whether to be concerned about such protection.
  10. Trends – What publishers may expect as predicted by recent litigation and Congressional action and discussions, and operation of law trends.

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Copyright, Common Mistakes and Myths Webinar

Copyright, Common Mistakes and Myths

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: Thursday, September 18 at 2:00pm EDT for Copyright, Common Mistakes and Myths Webinar.

Primarily aimed at small and mid-sized publishers, this webinar focuses on copyright law, common mistakes and myths about copyright. Copyright is the lifeblood of publishers. Not only are their works produced protected by copyright, but publishers must contract with authors, photographers and often other publishers in order to obtain permission to use portions of copyrighted works in the new works they are publishing. Publishers make mistakes in dealing with copyright and often rely on myths about the applicability of defenses such as fair use, first sale and others. Recent litigation will also be addressed.

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The Perfect Plagiarism Apology

Jonathan Bailey at Plagiarism Today has put together an excellent sample letter for use by anyone caught plagiarizing the work of others.

I'm sorry messagePlagiarism apologies have run the gamut from bad, to book-length bad, to combative and even outright offensive. And that’s without looking at Shia LaBeouf.

Time and time again, plagiarists have been caught and offered up apologies that are halfhearted, incomplete and, at times, downright patronizing. While one might expect that plagiarists would not be creative at offering apologies, one would think that they could at least offer a complete one.

Last year, I did an analysis of three different plagiarism apologies, finding all of them to be sub-par and incomplete.

So, I’ve decided to turn things around and offer plagiarists a helping hand. If you’re caught plagiarizing and need a plagiarism apology letter, I’m providing you a starting point below.

This letter, fundamentally, is the plagiarism apology I’ve been wanting to see for over a decade. It’s the letter I never got from any of the plagiarists of my work that I’ve caught, all 700 of them, the plagiarists in the news or any of the academic plagiarism cases I’ve been involved with.

Read the rest of the post and the letter at The Perfect
Plagiarism Apology I’m Still Waiting to See

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