I’m Teaching Media Law Again This Summer

I’ll be teaching my short (6 week; 2 credit) course in media law again this year as part of the University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law’s Intellectual Property Summer Institute. Last summer I taught a short (6 week; 2 credit) remote course in media law as part of the reboot of University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law’s Intellectual Property Summer Institute. Affectionately known as “IPSI” by us UNH alums, last year marked the return of the program, albeit in remote form, following a multi-year hiatus. We’ll be remote again this year, though we’re hopeful that the COVID conditions may improve enough to have at least a weekend gathering. Stay tuned for more information on that.

My course, which has been given a snazzy new title, From Traditional Media to Social Media: Current Issues and Events in the Law of Media and Mass Communication, will run Mondays and Wednesdays from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. Eastern (10:00 to 11:30 a.m. Pacific), from May 24 through July 2.

Here is the official course description:

This course offers broad exposure to various legal issues confronted by mass media enterprises, ranging from traditional broadcasters and similar internet-based services, to the major internet platforms and the new class of “media enterprises” that they spawned, such as YouTube influencers and TikTok stars. By examining current issues and events, students will navigate areas of law including defamation, rights of publicity and privacy, newsgathering and right of access, advertising, broadcast and internet regulation, intellectual property, and antitrust – to understand how the law’s staple doctrines apply to the business of producing and distributing news, information, and entertainment for mass consumption.

In addition, UNH is offering a handful of other short (1 and 2 credit) courses, including:

  • Drug Wars: Patent Protections in the Life Sciences Industry
  • The Art & Science of Legal Engagement in China
  • Video Gaming & IP
  • Cannabis & IP
  • IP Colloquium
  • Name, Image, and Likeness: Controversy of Identity
  • Introduction to Digital Brand Protection

For more information, including instructions on how to register, visit UNH’s IPSI page.

Congress Passes Small Claims and Felony Streaming Measures

Yesterday, Congress passed two important copyright measures that the creative community has long advocated for:

The first is the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2020 (CASE), which will establish a voluntary adjudicatory process, housed within the Copyright Office, for copyright claims under $30,000 in value. The law requires that the Copyright Office establish the Copyright Claims Board within a year of the law’s enactment. As Register of Copyrights Shira Perlmutter noted in the Office’s announcement, the Copyright Office has long supported the idea of hosting a small-claims tribunal which, just like the Music Modernization Act passed in 2018, was the subject of an extensive report of the Copyright Office and years of congressional inquiry and review.

You can read more about issues surrounding “small” copyright claims, and why the Copyright Claims Board will be a welcome development for many copyright owners — especially photographers — in chapter 6 of my book, The Unrealized Promise of the Next Great Copyright Act.

The second major development is the passage of a bill to close the “streaming loophole.” The Copyright Act, as it currently stands, provides that the unlawful reproduction or distribution of copyrighted works can be treated as a felony (when certain factors make the conduct especially egregious), but the unlawful performance of copyrighted work is treated only as a misdemeanor, meaning fewer cases were prosecuted.

As content distribution technologies have evolved, and streaming has become the dominant mechanism by which legal content offerings are distributed, pirates have followed suit, and today illegal streaming sites and services are the dominant form of piracy. Still, the law treated the two differently (more about this in chapter 4 of my book).

The felony streaming provision which, as the Copyright Office noted in its announcement, “was the result of a negotiated profess among a number of consumer and industry groups,” fixes that disparity, but does so in a way that specifically excludes “criminal prosecution of individual users.”

The two copyright measures now await the President’s signature.

New Book on Copyright and Creativity in the 21st Century

Routledge Companion to Copyright and Creativity in the Twenty-First Century

I am pleased to announce the upcoming release of The Routledge Companion to Copyright and Creativity in the 21st Century, to which I am honored to have been asked to contribute an essay. Edited by Professor Michelle Bogre, Esq., of the Parsons School of Design, and noted copyright lawyer Nancy Wolff of Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard, the book features the basics of copyright law and a series of essays from academics and practitioners reflecting a diverse range of perspectives on how copyright law works (or doesn’t work) in the contemporary environment. The anticipated date of publication is November 26, 2020.

My contribution is titled The DMCA Safe Harbor: Policy and Practice Divided, appearing in section 8.2.

Here’s the official description of the book from the publisher:

These collected chapters and interviews explore the current issues and debates about how copyright will or should adapt to meet the practices of 21st-century creators and internet users.

The book begins with an overview of copyright law basics. It is organized by parts that correspond to creative genres: Literary Works, Visual Arts, Fine Art, Music, Video Games and Virtual Worlds, Fashion, and Technology. The chapters and interviews address issues such as copyright ownership in work created by Artificial Intelligence (AI), the musical remix market, whether appropriation is ever a fair use of a copyrighted work or if it is always theft, and whether internet- based platforms should do more to deter piracy of creators’ works. Each part ends with an essay explaining the significance of one or two landmark or trendsetting cases to help the reader understand the practical implications of the law.

Written to be accessible to both lay and legal audiences, this unique collection addresses contemporary legal issues that all creators need to understand and will be essential reading for artists, designers, and musicians as well as the lawyers who represent them.

You can learn more about the book (and buy a copy, of course): at the publisher’s website, Amazon, or numerous other booksellers.

Using Image and Videos in Your Planetarium…Legally

A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of presenting another seminar to the Pacific Planetarium Association (PPA) on legal issues surrounding the use of images and video footage in planetarium shows and exhibits. The session was something of a follow-up to my presentation last year on using music in the planetarium.

The recording of the presentation is now available on YouTube. While you’re there (and if you work in a planetarium or around the industry) be sure to check out the full library of PPA seminars.

Shira Perlmutter Appointed 14th Register of Copyrights

Source: U.S. Copyright Office

Shira Perlmutter has taken the reins at the U.S. Copyright Office after the prior register, Karyn Temple, departed for the Motion Picture Association in . Shira brings with her decades of copyright policy expertise, having served previously at the Copyright Office, TimeWarner, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, and most recently as the Chief Policy Officer and Director for International Affairs at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Here’s the official announcement from the Copyright Office:

The U.S. Copyright Office welcomes Shira Perlmutter today as 14th Register of Copyrights and Director of the U.S. Copyright Office. Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden presided over Perlmutter’s oath of office in which, among other obligations, she swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States, which is the foundation for federal copyright law.

Perlmutter steps into the role during the Office’s 150th anniversary year at a time in which important forward-focused projects, such as copyright modernization, are at the forefront. In her first weeks, Perlmutter will be meeting staff, participating in public presentations, and taking on the management of ongoing programs and initiatives. She looks forward to engaging with a wide range of stakeholders and hearing about their priorities and concerns in the coming weeks and months.

Perlmutter has served since 2012 as Chief Policy Officer and Director for International Affairs at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), working in all areas of intellectual property, including copyright. From 1995 through 1999, Perlmutter served as the Associate Register for Policy and International Affairs at the U.S. Copyright Office. Read more about her career here.

Maria Strong, who had led the office as the acting register since Temple’s departure last December (and admirably managing its COVID-19 response), returns to her previous post as Associate Register of Copyrights and Director of Policy and International Affairs.