3D Printing, Sherlock Holmes, Marrakesh Treaty + Legally Using Content

Marrakesh Treaty

Snippets from issue 3, 2013 volume of The Copyright & New Media Law Newsletter:

A “novel” idea: a novel about copyright law.  This particular work of fiction was written by Stanford Law School intellectual property law professor and author Paul Goldstein.  In fact, he was just awarded the third annual Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction for his novel, Havana Requiem.  John Grisham and Michael Connelly are past recipients of this prize, which is awarded to the novel best exemplifying the role of lawyers in society.  This American Bar Association Journal and University of Alabama Law School co-sponsored prize, named for the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of To Kill a Mockingbird, really caught my eye because of its focus on copyright law.

– Editorial by Lesley Ellen Harris

3D Printing and Copyright

Three-dimensional printing is a remarkable technology that is taking off at a rapid pace and promises to revolutionize the world as we know it.  3D printers are already capable of creating all kinds of items – gadgets, tools, toys, clothing, food, medicine, body parts and organs, and even 3D printers themselves.  As print-on-demand services proliferate and 3D printers become cheaper and widely available for individual consumers, the time is not far off when 3D printing will be a part of our everyday lives.

The notion that people everywhere will be able to replicate and create physical objects on demand – things they once had to purchase from a manufacturer – is often quickly followed by the thought, “Are you allowed to do that?”  Because copyright law at its core regulates our freedom to make copies, the very idea of using digital files and printers to replicate all sorts of things (rather than buying them) makes people wonder if doing so violates copyright law.  Moreover, our experience with the copyright battles that ensued when the internet revolutionized the production and distribution of informational goods (like music, movies, news, books and photographs) makes us fearful that similar copyright troubles are just around the corner if and when 3D printing threatens the profits of those who manufacture and distribute physical goods.

But physical goods and informational goods are different.  We must pay close attention to whether and how copyright law applies to physical objects before we assume we are not free to copy objects or start unnecessarily requiring licenses for everything related to 3D printing.

– 3D Printing and Copyright by Julie Ahrens

Sherlock Holmes Case: Detecting When Copyright Expires

In February 2013, Leslie Klinger, a Los Angeles attorney, filed a lawsuit against the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division).  Sir Conan Doyle is the creator and author of a series of fictional works featuring legendary investigator and crime-solver Sherlock Holmes.  According to the Complaint, Mr. Klinger is the author of numerous books and articles relating to the “Canon of Sherlock Holmes,” a phrase that refers to the four novels and fifty-six stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle featuring the fictional character of Sherlock Holmes and other related characters and story elements.  Mr. Klinger’s Complaint raises copyright law questions that could easily be the subject of a Sherlock Holmes caper.  At the time of writing, the caper is still to be decided by the court.

– Sherlock Holmes Case:  Detecting When Copyright Expires  by Miri Frankel

Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access for the Blind and Others

Just over a year ago, I wrote an article in this Newsletter stating that a new copyright treaty is a big deal and does not happen every day.  I was referring to the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances that was adopted in June 2012.  One year later, we see an additional milestone in international copyright law and in the role of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) with the finalization of another new treaty: the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled (Marrakesh Treaty or Treaty).  One unique element in this treaty is that it is the first treaty devoted solely to copyright limitations or exceptions as opposed to rights for creators of copyright-protected works, performers, and sound recording producers.

– The Marrakesh Treaty To Facilitate Access For The Blind And Others by Lesley Ellen Harris

Legally Using Content in Canada

Excerpt from the book Canadian Copyright Law, Fourth Edition, by Lesley Ellen Harris, published by John Wiley & Sons

The “Use” of Copyright Materials

People who want to use copyright materials (or content) often think that because a certain work is protected by copyright, that work cannot be used.  This is a false assumption.

When Is Permission Required? A General Rule

Every time you use copyright material in a manner that only the copyright owner has the right to do, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Generally, if copyright exists in a work, and if there is no specific exception for that particular use, then permission of the copyright owner must be obtained in order to use the work.   Even amateurs who are dealing with a copyright-protected work, such as a theatre group performing a play, must get permission to perform a copyright-protected work.  This general rule applies to works found on the Internet.

– Legally Using Content In Canada by Lesley Ellen Harris


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