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Copyright Fair Use: What to Tell (or not tell) Your Creative Client

April 16, 2013

Copyright Fair Use
Copyright Fair Use
Copyright Fair Use
Copyright Fair Use
Copyright Fair Use
Copyright Fair Use
Copyright Fair Use
Copyright Fair Use

By Chanel DiBlasi (1L)

Can someone use your copyrighted work and not have to pay royalties or licensing fees?

It all depends on how the material is used and one exception is “fair use.”

On April 12, five prominent and very accomplished IP attorneys, along with a songwriter, made up two panels addressing the issues of the defense of copyright fair use from both the artist’s and the attorney’s perspective. The event, “Copyright Fair Use: What to Tell (or not tell) Your Creative Client,” included hilarious videos, laughter, education and even a few live performances.

David Branfman of Branfman Law Group, P.C., the attorney for songwriter and guitarist Steve Poltz, discussed the case Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music. In this case, Roy Orbison sued 2 Live Crew for using his tune “Oh, Pretty Woman” for their song “Pretty Woman.”This case established that a commercial parody could qualify as fair use.

Steve Poltz, a songwriter and guitarist, who had gotten in from traveling the road, at two in the morning discussed

his views of copyright and fair use from an artist perspective. Poltz, the writer of the Jewel song “You Were Meant For Me,” told the audience how his work is always played on YouTube. He also discussed how Weird Al Yankovic, a huge fan, made a video of one of Poltz’ songs. He also
explained that “he just wants to make music” and that although he doesn’t want to be completely ripped off, he doesn’t mind if some people use his music to further art.

Students enjoyed hearing the perspective of the artist. “The panel was great because it gave students the opportunity to see how copyright laws affect artist firsthand, both creatively and financially,” said Jillian Kates, 2L.

Kenneth Fitzgerald of Chapin Fitzgerald LLP discussed the lawsuits that he has been involved in by representing “The Famous Chicken.” One of those lawsuits was Lyons Partnership v. Ted Giannoulas. In this case, the creator of the “Barney” dinosaur character sued the owner of “The Famous Chicken” character for copyright and trademark infringement. The “The Famous Chicken” won because it was deemed to be parody.

Emile Nicolaou ‘06, Senior Director of Business and Legal Affairs at Playboy Entertainment, Inc., discussed and showed a parody video of his work with Playboy Entertainment. He spoke of his duties as in-house counsel to give the “go-ahead” or not to give the “go-ahead” to the producers and writers who want to use copyrighted works in their sketches and shows. One example he showed the audience is a parody of the Old Spice commercial “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.” The parody included porn star Ron Jeremy.

The use of videos and music helped the audience to understand copyright fair use.

“It was very informative and interesting to get a perspective from the industry professionals and I loved that they incorporated visuals along with each of their presentations,” said Marina Kublanovskaya (1L.) “I love that they got into detail with copyright. I didn’t know too much about it before the panel.”

The last panelist of this event was Guylyn Cummins, a partner at Sheppard Mullin. She discussed how her work with copyright fair use weighs heavily on the 1st Amendment. She discussed the minefield fair use issues can present in representing high-profile media clients

The panel did an excellent job of being informative and captivating. “This panel was engaging and entertaining. They showed both sides of the spectrum in copyright fair use,” noted Dominique Mounnes (1L.)

There is little doubt why Thomas Jefferson School of Law is one of the leading schools in Intellectual Property (IP).  The school continues to host informative and entertaining IP panels and events. Camara Mathis (3L), Najmah Brown (3L) and entertainment law Professor K.J. Greene organized this brilliant event.

The event was followed by a reception on the 8th floor.

Watch a Video of the Copyright Fair Use Event