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Copyright law

Supreme Court of the United States

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The New Separability, Lili Levi Jan 2018

The New Separability, Lili Levi

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In Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands, the Supreme Court recently unveiled a new approach to separability. Because copyright law protects expression, not function, aesthetic features of useful articles are eligible for copyright protection only if they are separable from the functional work in which they are incorporated. But the Copyright Actdoes not define separability, and Star Athletica is the latest judicial effort to try to fill that void. Unfortunately, the new separability is open to a wide range of critiques. Relatively low-hanging fruit are the vagueness and indeterminacy of the new test, the Court's unsatisfactory attempts to avoid defining "function," …


Campbell At 21/Sony At 31, Jessica D. Litman Jan 2015

Campbell At 21/Sony At 31, Jessica D. Litman

Articles

When copyright lawyers gather to discuss fair use, the most common refrain is its alarming expansion. Their distress about fair use’s enlarged footprint seems completely untethered from any appreciation of the remarkable increase in exclusive copyright rights. In the nearly forty years since Congress enacted the 1976 copyright act, the rights of copyright owners have expanded markedly. Copyright owners’ demands for further expansion continue unabated. Meanwhile, they raise strident objections to proposals to add new privileges and exceptions to the statute to shelter non-infringing uses that might be implicated by their expanded rights. Copyright owners have used the resulting uncertainty …