Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Showing Book Covers in Movies


Dear Rich: My company is creating an educational DVD in which a child reads a book out loud (the book is depicted in only a positive way). Is it necessary to get permission to show the book's cover? Is there a certain amount of time (i.e. a few seconds) that we could show the cover that would be considered "fair use"? I'm so glad you asked. The short answers to your questions are: "Probably" and "No". There is no fixed time period which qualifies for fair use and although we believe that a few seconds of a book cover should qualify as a fair use...  unfortunately it will require a court case to prove it actually is a fair use. (The Dear Rich staff has provided considerable advice on fair use here.) Showing the book in a positive manner may discourage a claim but it doesn't get you off the hook if you are pursued. To be prudent you should  probably ask for permission. What's not mentioned in your letter is whether you have permission to read the book. The Dear Rich staff doesn't want to bring your head down, but reading a book aloud in a movie would be considered a public performance and without permission (or a fair use defense), it's an infringement.

Which reminds us that once, not so long ago, a big-time movie company asked permission to use a Nolo book in a big time movie with one of the Dear Rich staff's favorite actresses

Showing Book Covers in Movies


Dear Rich: My company is creating an educational DVD in which a child reads a book out loud (the book is depicted in only a positive way). Is it necessary to get permission to show the book's cover? Is there a certain amount of time (i.e. a few seconds) that we could show the cover that would be considered "fair use"?  The short answers to your questions are: "Probably" and "No". There is no fixed time period which qualifies for fair use and although we believe that a few seconds of a book cover should qualify as a fair use...  unfortunately it will require a court case to prove it actually is a fair use. (The Dear Rich staff has provided considerable advice on fair use here.) Showing the book in a positive manner may discourage a claim but it doesn't get you off the hook if you are pursued. To be prudent you should  probably ask for permission. What's not mentioned in your letter is whether you have permission to read the book. The Dear Rich staff doesn't want to bring your head down, but reading a book aloud in a movie would be considered a public performance and without permission (or a fair use defense), it's an infringement.
Which reminds us that once, not so long ago, a big-time movie company asked permission to use aNolo book in a big time movie with one of the Dear Rich staff's favorite actresses!  

Friday, October 17, 2008

Register a Song Copyright Using Form CO


Dear Rich: How can I register a song copyright using the new Form CO? I'm so glad you asked (see above). You can also register using the new eCO system.

Register a Song Copyright Using Form CO

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Process Patents and Cigarette Papers

Dear Rich: Is it possible to patent a method of sale for a product component? For example, let's say cigarettes existed but nobody had ever separately sold cigarette filters and papers. Would a system for selling such product components be patentable? This may be a bad example, but what I'm trying to find out is whether I could patent the way a particular product is sold by breaking it into separate parts and giving the consumer a more tailored choice. I'm so glad you asked. The short answer is 'probably not,' and yes, your analogy as to the novelty of component sales of filters and cigarette papers may not be a good one.The Dear Rich staff consulted with patent attorneyDavid Pressman, who said that since the method doesn't transform physically and is not tied to technology, it would not qualify as patentable subject matter. The Federal Circuit, a federal appeals court for patents, is currently considering In re Bilski, a case that could affect your situation. Bilski is a dispute over whether a computer model that assesses risks for hedge funds (how timely) is patentable. The USPTO held that the process was not patentable because it is not tied to a particular machine, nor does it transform a tangible article to a different state. If the Federal Circuit upholds this standard, your process claim (and many other business methods) will not be considered as patentable subject matter. If the Bilskicase is reversed (it can be appealed to the Supreme Court), your process is noveland it provides a new and unexpected result, it may be patentable.