mobirise.com

Copyrights 101

Copyright is a form of protection given to an author of literary, musical works (e.g. songs, and melodies), or artistic works (e.g., paintings, photographs), dramatic works (e.g., scripts for films and dramas). To illustrate the importance of copyrights, in 2015 Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke and T.I. were ordered to pay $5.3 million and royalties to the Marvin Gaye family after a jury determined that “Blurred Lines” (a song by Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke and T.I.) essentially ripped off Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up.”


For companies, copyright protects the company’s publications and written materials, such as product brochures, instruction and maintenance manuals, and any form of advertising or promotional materials, such as television advertising, radio advertising, and internet advertisements. Copyright also protects computer software, source code and user interfaces.


In Canada, copyright exists during the lifetime of the author and for 50 years following the author’s death. In the United States, the copyright in a work of authorship lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years, or if the author is anonymous or a company, for the longer of 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation. The term cannot be extended or renewed.

Check out some famous copyright infringement cases here.


Music

In 2015 Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke and T.I. were ordered to pay $5.3 million and royalties to the Marvin Gaye family after a jury determined that “Blurred Lines” (a song by Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke and T.I.) essentially ripped off Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up.”

Photograghs

The Hope Poster created by Shephard Fairey & used by the 2008 Obama Campaign was based on a photograph shot by AP freelancer Mannie Garcia. In 2009, AP sought compensation for the non-authorized use of the  photo. Both parties later reached a setttement.

Books

Following the success of the comic-turned-TV show "The Walking Dead", Tony Moore, the book's original artist and co-creator, filed suit against Robert Kirkman for half of the proceeds related to the title "The Walking Dead". The lawsuit was settled in 2012.

Paintings

Mike Tyson's tattoo artist S. Victor Whitmill filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros. Entertainment claiming that the use of his design in the movie The Hangover Part II was copyright infringement. In the movie, Stu Price, a strait-laced dentist played by actor Ed Helms,wakes up after a night of debauchery in Bangkok to find a tribal tattoo wrapped around his left eye, Warner Bros. and Whitmill hashed out an agreement of undisclosed terms.

User interfaces

In 1994, Apple Computer, Inc. (now Apple Inc.) sought to prevent Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard from using visual graphical user interface (GUI) elements that were similar to those in Apple's Lisa and Macintosh operating systems.In 1997, Apple and Microsoft settled the infringement lawsuit in direct negotiations

Movies

Galactica was produced in the wake of the success of the 1977 film Star Wars. 20th Century Fox sued Universal Studios (the studio behind Battlestar Galactica) for copyright infringement, claiming that it had stolen 34 distinct ideas from Star Wars.” including a character named Skyler, similar to Skywalker. Ultimately the case was ruled in favour of Galactica.