Monday, March 2, 2015

Quoting Dialogue From Raising Arizona in Novel

Dear Rich: I'm self-publishing my novel and I'm trying to track down Circle Films for permission to use four lines from "Raising Arizona." (I did get permission from the Cather Foundation to quote "My Antonia.")  The problem is, I can't even find a website for Circle Films. 
You might be able to find Circle Films information by signing on for an imdb.com PRO subscription which offers contact information for producers and studios (the first month is free). Alternatively, you might try contacting producer Ben Barenholtz who apparently was the owner of Circle Films.
Why bother? After reviewing your use -- two characters talking about the film and quoting four lines of dialogue -- we don't believe permission is required. Yours is a classic example of fair use because you are using a small amount of copyrighted material for a limited and “transformative” purpose, something that authors who comment on pop culture (for example Elmore Leonard -- scroll down to "Spark") commonly do. Alternatively, you've taken so little from the movie it might qualify as a de minimis taking -- one that is so trivial that it shouldn't matter.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Do We Need Formal Contract for Private School Permission?

Dear Rich: I work for a fully online private school and am seeking permission to use images, videos, and links within the course. Do I need to have a formal contract with a signature confirming that permission is granted to use the item, or is it enough to have an email response saying that they grant permission for our suggested use? 
The copyright law says that you need a writing signed by the copyright owner or his or her agent to transfer or license any of a copyright owner's rights. The signature can be handwritten or it can be a digital or electronic signature. If the email contains permission and is "signed" by the person who has authority to grant rights, your collection of emails is probably fine for permission purposes.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Can I Make "Night of the Living Dead" Action Figures?

Dear Rich: Night of the Living Dead (the original film by George A Romero) is in the public domain. However someone trademarked Night of the Living Dead for action figures. If I wanted to manufacture action figures from the movie, would I be violating trademark law or would I be allowed to because the source material is public domain? Could I bypass it by calling the line "George A Romero's Night of the Living Dead"? Or "They're Coming to get you Barbara" with the tag line as Night of the Living Dead? Or am I just opening a can of worms not worth opening?  Normally you would need two permissions to sell movie action figures: permission from the copyright owner of the movie; and permission from the actor (referred to as publicity rights). Because Night of the Living Dead is public domain, there is no copyright owner from whom you'll need permission. However, you would need permission from the actors and it appears as if Sphereworx, (the company that has registered the trademark) has already acquired permission from the four actors used in their initial action figure release. So, besides the trademark issues (discussed below), you already face some major obstacles getting consent from the actors.
Using trademarks to protect public domain works. 100 years ago, the Supreme Court held that the title of a public domain book -- Webster's Dictionary -- also fell into the public domain and could not be protected by trademark law. The Ninth Circuit reaffirmed this rule in a case involving the John Wayne movie, McLintock. However, these cases involve someone claiming trademark rights in a book title for a competing book and a movie title for a competing movie. The rules are different if a public domain movie title is used for non-movie goods or services -- for example, It's a Wonderful Life is a registered trademark for lottery services. We can't predict the outcome of a case in which a public domain movie title is used to prohibit others from selling character merchandise ... but we doubt you want to pay to find out.
P.S. Speaking of salvaging from the PD, even Night of the Living Dead spawned a copyrightable slogan, "When there is no room in hell … the dead will walk the earth” (Dawn Associates v. Links, 203 U.S.P.Q. 831 (N.D. Ill. 1978)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Pre-roll Ads and Publicity Rights

Dear Rich: Our company posts news interviews online. Does the fact that we're using pre-roll ads require us to get waivers from our interview subjects? 
Whether you need to obtain a waiver/release depends on why you want to use a person’s name or image. If your use is for commercial purposes—for example, using the interview as part of an informercial—you need to obtain a release. If your use is for editorial purposes such as a news interview, you probably don't need a release. We don't think a pre-roll -- those 10 second ads before YouTube videos -- converts a news interview into a commercial purpose (any more than running an ad before a 60 Minutes segment). No court has ruled on the issue and if you’re concerned about liability, you can always talk to the person ahead of time — and video the subject's consent. We've written more about interviews and releases here.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Can We Copy Textbook Chapters?

Dear Rich: The Vice President of Academic Affairs of the two-year state technical college I work at told all Program Chairs it was ok to copy and attach "a chapter or two" of their course's textbook and attach it to their learning management system (ANGEL) "if students are having difficulty obtaining a textbook." Is this justification, or action, permitted under the educational fair use of copyrighted materials? As a result, some faculty are copying many chapters of a given textbook and posting to the LMS. Do you have any specific examples, or documented cases, where this type of justification (students do not have access to a textbook due to bookstore shortages or late distribution of financial aid awards) that is permissible? Permission must be obtained from the copyright owners of the textbooks for the type of wholesale copying you’re describing. It sounds like your college is, in essence, creating digital coursepacks. This is not a fair use. Educational fair use guidelines established by publishers and the academic community do allow some limited copying by teachers for classroom use. But these guidelines do not permit the copying of multiple book chapters you’re describing. You can read more about them in Copyright Office Circular 21. Answered by Stephen Fishman, author of The Copyright Handbook: What Every Writer Needs to Know

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Who Owns Gameplay in Video Game?

Dear Rich: If I screen capture while playing a video game like Call of Duty, who owns that? I know I don't own any rights to the video game itself but can I stop someone else from copying or showing my screen cap of how I played the game? 
In order for you to stop someone, you have to be able to demonstrate you have some proprietary rights in what was captured on screen. We doubt whether your gameplay -- absent any additional content -- amounts to copyrightable authorship. The issue first came up in 1983 when the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held (in a dispute over an unauthorized chip board) that just because the Pac Man game had an interactive multiple choice storyline did not move the copyright from the manufacturer to the player. In other words, the user "plays" the game; the user doesn't create content (although there may be an exception in the case of custom-created avatars or similar modifications). By analogy, courts have held that participants in sporting events -- no matter how accomplished, graceful, or skilled -- cannot claim copyright in their play or in specific moves they make. (See National Basketball Association v. Motorola). If this isn't what you wanted to hear, keep in mind that there some who believe games should not be protected by copyright at all!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Wants to Claim Copyright and Sell Public Domain Photos

2014 Winner of Best Public Domain Gif
Animal Category
Dear Rich: I have a souvenir photo book (images of public buildings, gardens, outdoor scenes) which I purchased over 30 years ago. It was published prior to 1923 (now part of the public domain, as I understand it). The book has no printed credits or copyrights, no info on who photographed the images or published the book. An Internet search has turned up one other copy of this book – it is in a USA university collection. The pages have been scanned and included in the university library’s digital collection; they have assigned a copyright to their scanned images; the digital images are available for purchase through the university. I would like to scan my copy of this book and use the images in artistic works and derivatives to sell, as well as offer the scanned digital images for sale. Would I be within my legal rights to copyright my scanned images from this book and use/sell them?
You can scan, copy and sell the images in the book but you could not claim a copyright. Because this book was published before 1923, it is in the public domain in the United States (however, it could still be under copyright in other countries). An exact digital scan of a public domain book is not copyrightable, just as a Xerox copy of a book is not copyrightable—both lack sufficient creativity to qualify for copyright protection. You are free to make a scan of your copy of the book and sell or otherwise make use of it. The university’s copyright claim in the scan they made is spurious. Unfortunately, false copyright claims like this are made all the time. Answered by Stephen Fishman, author of The Public Domain.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Do Progressive Downloads Infringe Copyright?

Dear Rich: There are plenty of websites that provide pirated streaming tv shows and movies. These videos are not live streams, but they are known as "progressive" downloads. My question is: Are the viewers of these streams violating copyright law? And if they are, have content owners gone after the viewers who watch the pirated streams of movies and shows? Has the U.S. government criminally prosecuted viewers for just watching?
As the name "progressive download,"suggests, a media file is downloaded progressively so you can begin watching it once a substantial portion has been stored on your device. Though there are differences between streaming and progressive downloading -- you can't fast forward through a video segment until that segment has been progressively downloaded -- most consumers consider progressive downloading as a form of streaming.
Will they hunt me down? Legal arguments have been offered that unauthorized progressive downloads may not constitute infringement (or that they qualify as a fair use because of their temporal nature). We haven't located any federal caselaw that specifically states streaming or progressive downloads constitute an infringement but we believe that the verdict in federal courts will be infringement. As for getting hassled, the trend is away from pursuing end users. Federal government prosecution is fairly rare and a 2011 bill to make illegal streaming a felony failed to pass (though the content owners keep trying).

Monday, February 2, 2015

Can We Repost Super Bowl Ad?

Gerald Ford at Univ. of Michigan (1933)
Dear Rich: Are we allowed to take a Super Bowl commercial from YouTube, add comments on the screen and then publish it on our website? 
If you’re copying and reproducing the ad without authorization it’s an infringement.  Of course, there's always the "Can we get away with this?" approach. That is, how likely is it that the advertiser will clamp down on reproductions especially when the whole point of making the ad is to maximize exposure?
Fair use. Alternatively, if the advertiser complained, you might be able to succeed with a fair use argument. That is, you’re using the ad for purposes of commentary. Alas, that would be an argument you’d have to make in court and we doubt you want to do that.
Ask for permission. If your comments are  unfavorable and you're concerned about a backlash, or if your website is on the prudent side (and worried about liability), ask for permission. Many super bowl advertisers are happy to say "okay" so you may be able to obtain authorization from the owner (either the ad agency or the advertiser). And, of course, be careful when you use the special words "Super Bowl."
P.S. Your other legal questions about the big game are all answered here!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Reading Passages of Classic Literature in Movie

Dear Rich: There is a scene in the feature film I am currently making where a character turns on the radio and listens to the host read a small passage from classic literature (something like Romeo and Juliet). Would there be any copyright issues? 
Everything published in the United States before 1923 is in the public domain in the United States. Everything created by authors who died more than 70 years ago is in the public domain in almost every country other than the United States. Thus, classic works of literature like the complete works of William Shakespeare are in the public domain throughout the world (as well as 80,000 Shakespearean illustrations). When a work enters the public domain you are free to use it any way you want without obtaining permission from anyone. This means you are free to read from Romeo and Juliet or any other work of Shakespeare (or any author published before 1923 in the U.S.) in your film. Answered by Stephen Fishman, author of The Public Domain.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Can I Make Audiobooks for Private Use?

Dear Rich: Is it legal to borrow a book from my local library, make my own homemade audiobook, return the book afterwards, and keep the audio files I produced? I only want to make audiobooks for my own personal research and study, but I don't know if this breaks some copyright about making unauthorized copies. These audiobooks are just for my private research. Yes, you're likely violating copyright law; only the copyright owner can create derivative versions. But if you're the only one listening to them and you're not distributing copies, we doubt whether the copyright owners will know or care about your use. It's our little secret!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Nonprofit Wants to Translate Screenplay

Dear Rich: I'm the director of a small amateur nonprofit theatre company that puts on plays in Italian. We're planning our next production, and we want to adapt a movie screenplay into a stage play. This would involve translating the screenplay into Italian and adapting for the stage. Do we need to obtain permission to do this or would this adaptation by a nonprofit be a fair use? 
The copyright laws apply to nonprofits the same way they do to for-profit enterprises. When a person creates a work like a screenplay, he or she automatically obtains a bundle of exclusive copyright rights in the work. These include the exclusive right to adapt the work into a new medium or translate it into a new language. Thus, you can’t adapt a screenplay into a stage play or translate it into Italian without obtaining permission from the copyright owner. The fair use rule does not apply to the adaptation of an entire work into a new medium. Answered by Stephen Fishman, author of The Copyright Handbook.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Wants to Control Use of Video and Photos of Workshops

Dear Rich: I work for an environmental non-profit and I have a question about how to handle photos and videos at our workshops. While presenting to schools, or out in the community we sometimes have people video tape our presentation or shoot photos of our step to step instructions. If people are using the images or video for their personal use then we are ok with that, or if they have a blog and they want to post what they learned then that’s great, we could use the exposure!!! What we don’t want if people filming our workshops and then using that video to educate others, same with the photos. How can we protect ourselves from that happening? Is there some language we can include in our registration forms or we announce at the beginning of a workshop? Yes, you can put language in the registration form that permits recording for certain uses. That form should be executed at the time the user signs up for the workshop. (Alternatively, it can be executed after the user signs up, provided the user can get a full refund if he or she doesn't want to sign.) Use plain English to explain what is permitted and what is not -- for example, "Workshop grants a limited license to users to videotape the presentation solely for personal use and users may not share, duplicate or present the videotape to others." Like any contract, this limited license agreement is only as effective as in your ability to enforce it --  that is, to find violators and pursue them for breach of the license.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Can I Make a 90's Blog Using TV Images?

Dear Rich: I've recently created a 90's blog, where I would basically like to make posts with reviews and commentary about various things from the 90's (TV shows, music, video games, etc). I'm wondering...would it be considered "fair use" if I use a picture based on what I'm posting about? For example, if I'm reviewing a TV show, I would have a picture from the show in the post, if I'm giving my thoughts on an album, I would have a picture of that particular album in the post. Based on things that I've read on your website, I don't think that I would be in violation of any copyright laws, being that I'm only using a picture as part of what I'm reviewing. But, also based on what I've read, this seems like a very gray area that gets very confusing. I just wanted to get your opinion. Side note - I'm signed up on Google Adsense and Amazon Associates, so in theory, if my blog ever becomes huge, I could probably make money off of it (I'm not sure if that factors into anything). Although, with Amazon Associates, I would most likely just be promoting what I was reviewing anyway. 
The fair use privilege allows the public to make limited use of copyrighted works without obtaining permission from the copyright owners. One of the reasons for fair use is to encourage criticism and comment on copyrighted works. Quoting or excerpting a work in a review is a classic example of a fair use. Including a picture of a work you’re reviewing is also a good example of a fair use—this is done all the time in reviews. So long as you don’t use any more of the works involved than is necessary for your reviews, your intended use of works from the 1990s in your blog should qualify as a fair use. That said, not every copyright owner understands or agrees with the fair use rule, and some may complain even though your use is allowed by the copyright law.
Answered by Stephen Fishman, author of The Copyright Handbook.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Does Netflix TOS Trump Copyright Law?

Dear Rich: You’ve written that classroom use of Netflix might get a copyright pass but I have a question about that section of the copyright law ( Section 110). The Netflix TOS reads: "The Netflix service, and any content viewed through our service, are for your personal and non-commercial use only. During your Netflix membership, we grant you a limited, non-exclusive, non-transferable, license to access the Netflix service and view movies and TV shows through the service on a streaming-only basis for that purpose. Except for the foregoing limited license, no right, title or interest shall be transferred to you. You agree not to use the service for public performances."Wouldn’t the Netflix terms of service trump the exemption based on the idea that the acquisition for a non-private/personal purpose is illegal thereby nullifying the exemption?
It's true that Terms of Service (TOS) and End User License Agreements (EULAs), if properly executed, are considered legally enforceable and can force copyright law to the curb. But we can't say for sure how it would play out as no court appears to have addressed whether a license can defeat the educational exemption in Section 110. More importantly, the reader noted that when he contacted Netflix, they readily agreed with his educational use. That makes good legal and public relations sense. No company wants a Macarena on their hands!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Can I Video My Dedication to Public Domain?

Dear Rich: I was curious whether or not an author can declare their work as being in the public domain verbally, like say on video, as opposed to something documented and signed on paper? Does a persons verbal statements (on video or simply witnessed) hold the same legal standing as those on paper, if even at all with regard to declaring a piece of work... photo, story, video, painting, etc. as being remanded to the public domain?
Courts have held that a copyright owner may dedicate a work to the public domain simply by manifesting the intent to do so through an overt act. A signed document is not absolutely required. Thus, including a statement in a video that the work is dedicated to the public domain would likely be sufficient. However, to avoid possible disputes and misunderstandings, it is always best for the copyright owner to sign a document dedicating the work involved to the public domain. Such a document need not be long or fancy. The Copyright Office says that it need only:
  • identify the work involved--preferably including the author(s), title(s), and registration number(s) for the work (if any) 
  • provide the copyright owner’s full name and state that such person is the current owner of the copyright in the work 
  • state “I the copyright owner of this work, hereby release it into the public domain,” and 
  • be signed by the copyright owner or co-owners or by an authorized representative.
Answered by Steve Fishman, author of The Public Domain.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Can Musician Terminate Management Contract?

Dear Rich: I have a contract with an artist who is now seeing some success. He decided out of nowhere that he wanted to redo our contract after he got success. I refused. So he had a lawyer tell me that it’s terminated. We have 2 albums worth of songs. I’m also the indie label he signed to within the confines of the management deal he signed with me. Can I release an album if I co-wrote songs and co-authored audio production? I also co-own the masters. His lead vocals are on the album. Lastly, am I able to use his name and image? The contract says I can, but again, he says the contract is terminated. Can someone terminate a contract without a court ruling? 
The artist can't arbitrarily terminate the contract simply because he's had some success and wants out. He'll need to come up with a a valid legal basis.
What's a valid legal basis to terminate? If you failed to honor a  material term of the agreement, for example you deliberately failed to account to the musician for royalties and wouldn't correct the error, the musician could say, “That’s it, we’re done,” and terminate based on the material breach. In that case, the musician may have a reason to stop honoring the agreement. (This approach is sometimes employed when under-age musicians disaffirm management deals.) But if the reason is bunk -- a lawyer is just trying to bully you with legal hocus-pocus -- you may need an attorney's help to stop the insanity. If you prevail in a dispute, you would be entitled to payment of damages (usually what you would have received if the contract were performed). Claims of breach in management contracts are often preludes to settlement. In other words, how much will it  cost the musician to buy his way out of the contract? (BTW, a more peaceful way to terminate  would be if your management contract contains provisions that trigger termination or provide a right to terminate at will or under certain conditions, for example if the term -- the period of a time during which the contract is in force -- has ended.) Finally, as to using the musician's name and image, that may depend on whether the management agreement stands or falls.
What about the co-writing and co-ownership? It's tough to tell what your rights are as a co-writer or co-owner. The traditional rule is that any co-owner of a copyright can exploit the copyright (sell it or license it) as long as the other co-owners are compensated. But those rules may be trumped by your agreement --  for example, you may have agreed otherwise, or you both may have assigned the song copyrights to a publisher or the sound recording copyright to the indie label and established rules as to how that material can be used. In short, you need to consult with a lawyer. If you're low on funds, perhaps there is a lawyers-for-the-arts group in your area.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Who Owns My Radio Show?

Dear Rich: I invented, developed and have been broadcasting a unique radio show on an internet station for several months. I am/was a volunteer, I never signed a contract, never received any compensation for development costs or broadcasting/presenting the show. I paid for travel/music/concerts/hotels/food/internet/equipment myself. I was caught in the crossfire of two stations either partnering up or merging and was given the choice to simulcast on the other station or not. I chose not to and was asked to resign my post (I was actually doing two shows a week). Less than 10 minutes later, the station owner told me I could not take my wildly popular unique show to a different station because "she had copyrighted the name of the show and would develop it further without me." Can she even DO that in 10 minutes, and who owns the show?
We don't know what kind of show you had -- music, interviews, monologues -- but you probably own the copyright to the content that you created -- that is, the material that you would read if the show was transcribed. (In addition, you may own a sound recording copyright to the audio production.) That's assuming (1) you didn't sign any agreements with the station, and (2) you were not an employee of the station. Even if you own copyright, the station (for which you volunteered) likely acquired an implied license to broadcast or archive the show.  If, however, you co-created the content or sound recording with employees of the station you would be a co-owner of copyright which means that your co-owner (the station) can make use and reproduce the content provided it accounts to you.
Who can make new shows? Going forward, we're less interested in copyright law and more interested in trademark law. The primary trademark -- in this case, the name of the show -- has a great deal of value (or goodwill) because that's what listeners associate with the program. But who has legal rights to the trademark? Typically, the first business to use the name in commerce usually owns the mark. In the case of a radio show, it would usually be the company that produces the show. That may be you or it may be the station; we don't have enough details to say with certainty but if we were a betting blog, we might bet on the radio station. However, if the station is merely a web service for distributing the show -- for example, something like libsyn.org -- you would retain trademark rights. The same trademark rules would apply of the show's format, which could possibly be considered to be trade dress, a form of trademark.
Hey, speaking of radio, don't forget to check out the Dear Rich Staff on a recent episode of On the Media.

Monday, December 22, 2014

My Brother Claims I Infringed

Dear Rich: My father spent several years writing his memoirs. He wound up with 200 pages of typewritten work. He and my mother put all their estate in a trust in 1994. He passed away in 2002. My mother passed away in 2009. After her death, the estate was divided, per their will, into four equal parts. Each of the four children took what they wanted as far as material goods from the family home. My brother and I each kept a copy of my father's manuscript. Fast forward to 2014. I spent several months retyping the manuscript into the computer, adding footnotes, an epilogue and a chapter written by my father's sister  (used with her written permission). I self-published the book on Amazon. My brother found the book on Amazon and rather than contact me, he contacted Amazon, claiming copyright infringement. I've done some research, and I believe that he and I are co-owners of the copyright, and that I do not necessarily need his permission to use my father's manuscript in the manner in which I did. Am I right or wrong?
You are right. When you and your siblings inherited your mother's estate you became equal co-owners of the copyright in your father's memoirs. Co-ownership of a copyright is very similar to being a tenant in common of a piece of real property with one or more other owners. Since there are four of you, you each own an undivided 25% interest in the copyright in the work. Each co-owner of a copyright has the legal right to enter into nonexclusive licenses with others to publish or otherwise exploit the work without obtaining permission from the other co-owners. However, the co-owner must provide the other co-owners an accounting of any profits earned upon request, and share the profits according to the ownership interests. Some courts have held that co-owners may not enter into exclusive licenses without obtaining permission from the other co-owners--- for example, you couldn't grant a movie studio an exclusive license to create a movie based on the memoirs without the consent of the other owners. But, this is not what you've done with Amazon--the Createspace publishing agreement used by Amazon specifically provides that the agreement is nonexclusive. Since the publishing agreement with Amazon is a nonexclusive license, you had every right to enter into it without permission from your siblings. Their rights are limited to receiving an accounting from you and their 25% share of any royalties you earn. Likewise, any of your siblings may enter into nonexclusive licenses on their own to publish the memoirs; but they may not use the footnotes or epilogue you wrote without your permission--you are sole copyright owner of these elements you added to the original memoirs.
By Dear Rich staffer Steve Fishman, author of the The Copyright Handbook.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Consignment or Rep: Doll Deal Gone South

Dear Rich: Did I make a consignment agreement? I was at a doll show selling manufactured porcelain dolls. The woman at the next table was selling her dolls which are handmade. I was impressed with her work and offered to exhibit her dolls for sale at any of the other shows in New Jersey that I would be attending and I would like to show her dolls to some store owners and I would try to interest a few popular mail order catalogs. She agreed and gave me some of her pieces. As security measure (as we were strangers) I left with her one of my dolls that I was selling which was of comparable value to the merchandise she had given me. We did not agree on any other terms. Unfortunately, I didn't have much luck. I tried several store owners, two doll shoes and two catalogs without any interest. I had reported back to the artists at least three times during the seven months I tried to sell her work.I contacted the artist to arrange the return and exchange of our merchandise. She then told me that since I held her merchandise so long I had to pay for (buy) two pieces which she felt she could have sold at her shows and that she felt would not be her current styles in the future shows. She told me I would have to send a check for those 2 pieces ($90.00)as well as a check for $25.00 for shipping charges for her to return my piece to me. I would also have to ship her merchandise back to her at my expense. We went back and forth and I even offered to drive from New Jersey to Pennsylvania to bring back her dolls. She said in her last correspondence that she would allow for a return of her merchandise with a change being that I would still have to send a check for $25.00 to cover cost of returning my piece to me and that if she felt she could "set the other 2 pieces out for sale" there would be no cost to me. She would not agree to any other conditions. You inquired as to whether you had made a consignment deal and we don't think so. In a consignment arrangement, a gallery or store agrees to sell merchandise and pay the artist only if the merchandise sells. Otherwise the merchandise is returned. Your arrangement seems to be a rep agreement -- an arrangement in which the rep seeks to promote an artist's work to various sources, and in return receives a commission from the sale.
Insert terms here. You reached an agreement on something at that first meeting -- after all the artist accepted your doll and you took her merchandise with a promise to promote it. We're going to presume a contract was formed (although that might be incorrect if you never agreed upon financial compensation). In any case, contract or not, we think the result would be the same if the case went before Judge Judy. She'd probably seek to put the parties back where they were before the arrangement was made -- a remedy known as restitution. In other words, you'd return the dolls to each other and each pay the respective shipping costs.
What about the demanding artist? You have no legal obligation to abide by the artist's demands unless you're seeking a speedy resolution and the return of your doll. If you do decide to exchange dolls, we'd suggest you exchange paperwork confirming the terms of the resolution. And of course, if you want to rep an artist in the future, we'd suggest using a rep agreement like the one we've included in our  Craft Artist's Legal Guide.