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Intellectual Property Law

Columbia Law School

Intellectual property

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Conundra Of The Berne Convention Concept Of The Country Of Origin, Jane C. Ginsburg Jan 2021

Conundra Of The Berne Convention Concept Of The Country Of Origin, Jane C. Ginsburg

Faculty Scholarship

This essay explores one of the most important, but occasionally intractable, issues under the Berne Convention, the concept of Country of Origin. Article 5(4) of that treaty defines a work’s country of origin, but leaves out several situations, leaving those who interpret and apply the treaty without guidance in ascertaining the country of origin. I will call those situations the “Conundra of the country of origin,” and will explore two of them here. First, what is the country of origin of an unpublished work whose authors are nationals of different countries? Second, what is the country of origin ...


Floors And Ceilings In International Copyright Treaties (Berne/Trips/Wct Minima And Maxima), Jane C. Ginsburg Jan 2020

Floors And Ceilings In International Copyright Treaties (Berne/Trips/Wct Minima And Maxima), Jane C. Ginsburg

Faculty Scholarship

This Comment addresses “floors” – minimum substantive international protections, and “ceilings” – maximum substantive international protections, set out in the Berne Convention and subsequent multilateral copyright accords. While much scholarship has addressed Berne minima, the “maxima” have generally received less attention. This Comment first describes the general structure of the Berne Convention, TRIPS and WCT regarding these contours, and then analyzes their application to the recent “press publishers’ right” promulgated in the 2019 EU Digital Single Market Directive.

Within the universe of multilateral copyright obligations, the Berne maxima (prohibition of protection for facts and news of the day), buttressed by the TRIPS ...


Fair Use Factor Four Revisited: Valuing The "Value Of The Copyrighted Work" – Essay, Jane C. Ginsburg Jan 2020

Fair Use Factor Four Revisited: Valuing The "Value Of The Copyrighted Work" – Essay, Jane C. Ginsburg

Faculty Scholarship

Recent caselaw has restored the prominence of the fourth statutory factor – “the effect of the use upon the market for or value of the copyrighted work” – in the fair use analysis. The revitalization of the inquiry should also occasion renewed reflection on its meaning. As digital media bring to the fore new or previously under-examined kinds of harm, courts not only need to continue refining their appreciation of a work’s markets. They must also expand their analyses beyond the traditional inquiry into whether the challenged use substitutes for an actual or potential market for the work. Courts should acknowledge ...


Foreign Contracts And U.S. Copyright Termination Rights: What Law Applies? – Comment, Jane C. Ginsburg Jan 2020

Foreign Contracts And U.S. Copyright Termination Rights: What Law Applies? – Comment, Jane C. Ginsburg

Faculty Scholarship

The U.S. Copyright Act gives authors the right to terminate assignments of copyrights in works other than works for hire executed on or after 1 January 1978 after 35 years, and to do so notwithstanding any agreement to the contrary. Given that agreements which are subject to the laws of other countries can assign U.S. copyrights, and purport to do so in perpetuity, U.S. law’s preclusion of agreements contrary to the author’s right to exercise her termination right can give rise to a difficult choice of law issue. Two recent cases which came before courts ...


Fair Use In The United States: Transformed, Deformed, Reformed?, Jane C. Ginsburg Jan 2019

Fair Use In The United States: Transformed, Deformed, Reformed?, Jane C. Ginsburg

Faculty Scholarship

Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1994 adoption of “transformative use” as a criterion for evaluating the first statutory fair use factor (“nature and purpose of the use”), “transformative use” analysis has engulfed all of fair use, becoming transformed, and perhaps deformed, in the process. A finding of “transformativeness” often foreordained the ultimate outcome, as the remaining factors, especially the fourth (impact of the use on the market for or value of the copied work), withered into restatements of the first. For a time, moreover, courts’ characterization of uses as “transformative” seemed ever more generous (if not in some ...


The Whole Is More Public Domain Than The Parts?: Us Copyright Protection For Works Of Applied Art Under Star Athletica's Imagination Test, Jane C. Ginsburg Jan 2017

The Whole Is More Public Domain Than The Parts?: Us Copyright Protection For Works Of Applied Art Under Star Athletica's Imagination Test, Jane C. Ginsburg

Faculty Scholarship

In Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands, the Supreme Court granted certiorari to resolve confusion in the lower courts regarding the “separability” predicate to copyright protection of decorative features of useful articles. The case involved the “surface decorations” of stripes, chevrons, and color blocks applied to cheerleader uniforms. While the Supreme Court clarified the meaning and application of the “separability” standard for the kinds of decorative elements there at issue, the fate of other artistic “features” of useful articles, particularly their three dimensional forms, remains murky. Much of the Court’s analysis points toward a prophylactic rule excluding the entire shape ...


Intellectual Property As Seen By Barbie And Mickey: The Reciprocal Relationship Of Copyright And Trademark Law, Jane C. Ginsburg Jan 2017

Intellectual Property As Seen By Barbie And Mickey: The Reciprocal Relationship Of Copyright And Trademark Law, Jane C. Ginsburg

Faculty Scholarship

Some years ago, caselaw on trademark parodies and similar unauthorized “speech” uses of trademarks could have led one to conclude that the law had no sense of humor. Over time, however, courts in the US and elsewhere began to leaven likelihood of confusion analyses with healthy skepticism regarding consumers’ alleged inability to perceive a joke. These decisions did not always expressly cite the copyright fair use defense, but the considerations underlying the copyright doctrine seemed to inform trademark analysis as well. The spillover effect may indeed have been inevitable, as several of the cases in which the fair use defense ...


Intellectual Property In News? Why Not?, Sam Ricketson, Jane C. Ginsburg Jan 2016

Intellectual Property In News? Why Not?, Sam Ricketson, Jane C. Ginsburg

Faculty Scholarship

This Chapter addresses arguments for and against property rights in news, from the outset of national law efforts to safeguard the efforts of newsgathers, through the various unsuccessful attempts during the early part of the last century to fashion some form of international protection within the Berne Convention on literary and artistic works and the Paris Convention on industrial property. The Chapter next turns to contemporary endeavors to protect newsgatherers against “news aggregation” by online platforms. It considers the extent to which the aggregated content might be copyrightable, and whether, even if the content is protected, various exceptions set out ...


Overview Of Copyright Law, Jane C. Ginsburg Jan 2016

Overview Of Copyright Law, Jane C. Ginsburg

Faculty Scholarship

This article offers an overview of copyright in general in common law and civil law countries, with an emphasis on the U.S. and the European Union. It addresses the history and philosophies of copyright (authors’ right), subject matter of copyright (including the requirement of fixation and the exclusion of “ideas”), formalities, initial ownership and transfers of title, duration, exclusive moral and economic rights (including reproduction, adaptation, public performance and communication and making available to the public, distribution and exhaustion of the distribution right), exceptions and limitations (including fair use), and remedies. The article also covers the liability of intermediaries ...


"Courts Have Twisted Themselves Into Knots": Us Copyright Protection For Applied Art, Jane C. Ginsburg Jan 2016

"Courts Have Twisted Themselves Into Knots": Us Copyright Protection For Applied Art, Jane C. Ginsburg

Faculty Scholarship

In copyright law, the marriage of beauty and utility often proves fraught. Domestic and international law makers have struggled to determine whether, and to what extent, copyright should cover works that are both artistic and functional. The U.S. Copyright Act protects a work of applied art "only if, and only to the extent that, its design incorporates pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article." While the policy goal to separate the aesthetic from the functional is clear, courts' application of the statutory ...


On Aereo And "Avoision", Rebecca Giblin, Jane C. Ginsburg Jan 2014

On Aereo And "Avoision", Rebecca Giblin, Jane C. Ginsburg

Faculty Scholarship

Avoision describes conduct which seeks to exploit 'the differences between a law's goals and its self-defined limits' – a phenomenon particularly apparent in tax law. This short paper explains how the technology company Aereo utilised avoision strategies in an attempt to design its way out of liability under US copyright law. The authors argue that existing formulations encourage such strategies by applying differently depending on how the transaction is structured, resulting in a wasteful devotion of resources to hyper-technical compliance with the letter rather than meaning and purpose of the law.?


We (Still) Need To Talk About Aereo: New Controversies And Unresolved Questions After The Supreme Court's Decision, Rebecca Giblin, Jane C. Ginsburg Jan 2014

We (Still) Need To Talk About Aereo: New Controversies And Unresolved Questions After The Supreme Court's Decision, Rebecca Giblin, Jane C. Ginsburg

Faculty Scholarship

Recent judicial interpretations of U.S. copyright law have prompted businesses to design technologies in ways that enable the making and transmission of copies of works to consumers while falling outside the scope of the owner's exclusive rights. The archetypal example is Aereo Inc.'s system for providing online access to broadcast television, which the Supreme Court has now ruled results in infringing public performances by Aereo.

In previous work we urged the Court to develop a principled reading of the transmit clause focusing on the particular use rather than on the technical architecture of the delivery service (Giblin ...


Rules For Growth: Promoting Innovation And Growth Through Legal Reform, Robert E. Litan, Yochai Benkler, Henry N. Butler, John Henry Clippinger, Robert Cook-Deegan, Robert Cooter, Aaron Edlin, Nicole Garnett, Ronald J. Gilson, Oliver Goodenough, Gillian Hadfield, Mark Lemley, Frank Partnoy, George Priest, Larry E. Ribstein, Charles F. Sabel, Peter Schuck, Hal Scott, Robert E. Scott, Alex Stein, Victoria Stodden, John E. Tyler, Alan D. Viard, Benjamin Wittes Jan 2011

Rules For Growth: Promoting Innovation And Growth Through Legal Reform, Robert E. Litan, Yochai Benkler, Henry N. Butler, John Henry Clippinger, Robert Cook-Deegan, Robert Cooter, Aaron Edlin, Nicole Garnett, Ronald J. Gilson, Oliver Goodenough, Gillian Hadfield, Mark Lemley, Frank Partnoy, George Priest, Larry E. Ribstein, Charles F. Sabel, Peter Schuck, Hal Scott, Robert E. Scott, Alex Stein, Victoria Stodden, John E. Tyler, Alan D. Viard, Benjamin Wittes

Faculty Scholarship

The United States economy is struggling to recover from its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. After several huge doses of conventional macroeconomic stimulus – deficit-spending and monetary stimulus – policymakers are understandably eager to find innovative no-cost ways of sustaining growth both in the short and long runs.

In response to this challenge, the Kauffman Foundation convened a number of America’s leading legal scholars and social scientists during the summer of 2010 to present and discuss their ideas for changing legal rules and policies to promote innovation and accelerate U.S. economic growth. This meeting led to the publication ...


Do Patents Facilitate Financing In The Software Industry?, Ronald J. Mann Jan 2005

Do Patents Facilitate Financing In The Software Industry?, Ronald J. Mann

Faculty Scholarship

This paper is the first part of a wide-ranging study of the role of intellectual property in the software industry. Unlike previous papers that focus primarily on software patents – which generally are held by firms that are not software firms – this Article provides a thorough and contextually grounded description of the role that patents play in the software industry itself.

The bulk of the Article considers the pros and cons of patents in the software industry. The Article starts by emphasizing the difficulties that prerevenue startups face in obtaining any value from patents. Litigation to enforce patents is impractical for ...


Intellectual Property, Innovation, And Decentralized Decisions, Tim Wu Jan 2005

Intellectual Property, Innovation, And Decentralized Decisions, Tim Wu

Faculty Scholarship

This essay proposes a new way to assess the desirability of intellectual property rights.

Traditionally, intellectual property assignment is assessed based on a incentive/monopoly pricing tradeoff. I suggest they should be further assessed by their effects on the decision architectures surrounding the property right – their effects on how firms make product innovation decisions. The reason is that different decisional structures for product development can be are fundamental to the performance of firms, industries, and even the economy as a whole.

The organizational economics literature can help with this assessment. It makes an important and useful distinction between hierarchical (centralized ...