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Copyright law

Entertainment, Arts, and Sports Law


University of Michigan Law School

Publication Year

Articles 1 - 4 of 4

Full-Text Articles in Law

Silent Similarity, Jessica D. Litman Apr 2015

Silent Similarity, Jessica D. Litman


From 1909 to 1930, U.S. courts grappled with claims by authors of prose works claiming that works in a new art form—silent movies—had infringed their copyrights. These cases laid the groundwork for much of modern copyright law, from their broad expansion of the reproduction right, to their puzzled grappling with the question how to compare works in dissimilar media, to their confusion over what sort of evidence should be relevant to show copyrightability, copying and infringement. Some of those cases—in particular, Nichols v. Universal Pictures—are canonical today. They are not, however, well-understood. In particular, the problem at the heart of …

Antibiotic Resistance, Jessica D. Litman Jan 2012

Antibiotic Resistance, Jessica D. Litman


Ten years ago, when I wrote War Stories,' copyright lawyers were fighting over the question whether unlicensed personal, noncommercial copying, performance or display would be deemed copyright infringement. I described three strategies that lawyers for book publishers, record labels, and movie studios had deployed to try to assure that the question was answered the way they wanted it to be. First, copyright owners were labeling all unlicensed uses as "piracy" on the ground that any unlicensed use might undermine copyright owners' control. That epithet helped to obscure the difference between unlicensed uses that invaded defined statutory exclusive rights and other …

Readers' Copyright, Jessica D. Litman Jan 2011

Readers' Copyright, Jessica D. Litman


My goal in this project is to reclaim copyright for readers (and listeners, viewers, and other members of the audience). I think, and will try to persuade you, that the gradual and relatively recent disappearance of readers’ interests from the core of copyright’s perceived goals has unbalanced the copyright system. It may have prompted, at least in part, the scholarly critique of copyright that has fueled copyright lawyers’ impression that “so many in academia side with the pirates.” It may also be responsible for much of the deterioration in public support for copyright. I argue here that copyright seems out …

The Invention Of Common Law Play Right, Jessica D. Litman Jan 2010

The Invention Of Common Law Play Right, Jessica D. Litman


This Article explores playwrights' common law "play right." Since this conference celebrates the 300th birthday of the Statute of Anne, I begin in England in the 17th Century. I find no trace of a common law playwright's performance right in either the law or the customary practices surrounding 17th and 18th century English theatre. I argue that the nature and degree of royal supervision of theatre companies and performance during the period presented no occasion (and, indeed, left no opportunity) for such a right to arise. I discuss the impetus for Parliament's enactment of a performance right statute in 1833, …