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Columbia Law School

Intellectual Property Law

Copyright law

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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 First, what is the country of origin of an unpublished work whose authors are nationals of different countries?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 ...


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 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 ...


Embedding Content Or Interring Copyright: Does The Internet Need The "Server Rule"?, Jane C. Ginsburg, Luke Ali Budiardjo Jan 2019

Embedding Content Or Interring Copyright: Does The Internet Need The "Server Rule"?, Jane C. Ginsburg, Luke Ali Budiardjo

Faculty Scholarship

The “server rule” holds that online displays or performances of copyrighted content accomplished through “in-line” or “framing” hyperlinks do not trigger the exclusive rights of public display or performance unless the linker also possesses a copy of the underlying work. As a result, the rule shields a vast array of online activities from claims of direct copyright infringement, effectively exempting those activities from the reach of the Copyright Act. While the server rule has enjoyed relatively consistent adherence since its adoption in 2007, some courts have recently suggested a departure from that precedent, noting the doctrinal and statutory inconsistencies underlying ...


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 ...


Authors And Machines, Jane C. Ginsburg, Luke Ali Budiardjo Jan 2018

Authors And Machines, Jane C. Ginsburg, Luke Ali Budiardjo

Faculty Scholarship

Machines, by providing the means of mass production of works of authorship, engendered copyright law. Throughout history, the emergence of new technologies tested the concept of authorship, and courts in response endeavored to clarify copyright’s foundational principles. Today, developments in computer science have created a new form of machine – the “artificially intelligent” system apparently endowed with “computational creativity” – that introduces challenging variations on the perennial question of what makes one an “author” in copyright law: Is the creator of a generative program automatically the author of the works her process begets, even if she cannot anticipate the contents of ...


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 ...


The Most Moral Of Rights: The Right To Be Recognized As The Author Of One's Work, Jane C. Ginsburg Jan 2016

The Most Moral Of Rights: The Right To Be Recognized As The Author Of One's Work, Jane C. Ginsburg

Faculty Scholarship

The U.S. Constitution authorizes Congress to secure for limited times the exclusive right of authors to their writings. Curiously, those rights, as enacted in our copyright laws, have not included a general right to be recognized as the author of one's writings. Yet, the interest in being identified with one's work is fundamental, whatever the conception of the philosophical or policy basis for copyright. The basic fairness of giving credit where it is due advances both the author-regarding and the public-regarding aspects of copyright.

Most national copyright laws guarantee the right of attribution (or "paternity"); the leading ...


"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 ...


Private International Law Aspects Of Authors' Contracts: The Dutch And French Examples, Jane C. Ginsburg, Pierre Sirinelli Jan 2015

Private International Law Aspects Of Authors' Contracts: The Dutch And French Examples, Jane C. Ginsburg, Pierre Sirinelli

Faculty Scholarship

Copyright generally vests in the author, the human creator of the work. But because, at least until recently, most authors have been ill-equipped to commercialize and disseminate their works on their own, the author has granted rights to intermediaries to market her works. Since most authors are the weaker parties to publishing, production, or distribution contracts, the resulting deal may favor the interests of the intermediary to the detriment of the author’s interests. Many national copyright laws have introduced a variety of corrective measures, from the very first copyright act, the 1710 British Statute of Anne, which instituted the ...