Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Rights Organizations. In the U.S., the band would have a fairly easy time sorting this out. They could either pay the compulsory license fees and follow the instructions issued by the Copyright Office. Or they could take the easier route of charging the fees to their credit card at the HFA site -- you just set up an account and tell them how many copies. HFA instructions note, however, that the license is only for recordings distributed in the U.S. In Norway, rights are commonly sorted by Kopinor, and your friends might want to check their website for assistance. Other European rights organizations are shown here.
Small Correction Dept. You spelled Mr. B's name as Lindsay; the hypervigilant Dear Rich Staff reports that it's actually the more common male variant, Lindsey (placing #834 among male names -- compared to #1211 for Lindsay).
Friday, December 17, 2010
Right, you had a question. If the only contribution made by the woman who hired you is the 'idea' to make the documentary, then she would not have any copyright claim to the resulting movie unless it qualifies as work made for hire (below). For example, we have this idea to make a documentary about our jet-setting bon-vivant doctor uncle (shown here). Great idea, we think, but worthless unless someone takes the time to express the documentary (hopefully in a manner that is as interesting as the subject matter). So, even if the woman offers you some suggestions about who to interview, or even what to ask or where to do the interview, it's unlikely -- if that's all she provides -- that she will have much claim to the copyright in the result.
If the woman hires you as an independent contractor. If the woman is paying you as an independent contractor, that brings us into the world of works made for hire. In order for it to be a 'work made for hire' made by an independent contractor, your situation has to meet several criteria including a written agreement that designates your work as made for hire. Alternately, she could create a written agreement where she pays you for services, and in return you assign her the copyright. Finally, she may agree that you own the copyright but may contract with you to receive a payment from any revenues based on her cooperation in making the documentary. Even if you don't get the agreements right, it's possible that if the woman is paying you, a court may imply certain rights to the woman based on your working relationship.
Bottom line dept. Things can get messy if you don't sort this stuff out before you start. We'd suggest that you check out a couple of good legal film resources before proceeding: Clearance & Copyright: Everything You Need to Know for Film and Television, and The Pocket Lawyer for Filmmakers: A Legal Toolkit for Independent Producers.
Posted by The Dear Rich Staff at 12:43 PM
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Copyright issues. Under Section 113(c) of the Copyright Act, you wouldn't need permission to reproduce the costumes (and let's hope the Dear Rich staff doesn't need it either for our 1941 blog imagery). And we also think you have a strong fair useargument for using the Captain American costume imagery as well.
What about the other stuff? The use of the image on your cover could possibly trigger trademark issues. If Marvel can argue that consumers are likely to be confused -- that is, they are likely to think Marvel had something to do with your work, Marvel could take you to court to stop the publication. We haven't seen the imagery you are using but we think the statistical chances of getting hassled by Marvel are low (assuming Marvel's lawyers read poetry). However, you should definitely get permission from the photographer for reproducing his image. And it would be wise, because you will be using the cover to advertise and sell your book, that you obtain a release from the Dad and son in the photo.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Who owns what? Like other extinct publications, it's difficult to tell who owns what, or if elements of the old magazine are even 'ownable.' If you're betting the odds, then Amazing Stories covers from 1923 through 1963 are most likely in the public domain. That's because these works must have been renewed and most works were not. That's not a definite, but it's a strong possibility. (BTW, you can hear an interview on the PD with author Steve Fishman, here.)
Why can they sell them? You'll notice that the illustration we are featuring includes a copyright notice from this company. As you can see by following the link, the company sells high quality digital versions of Amazing Stories covers and other pulp magazines. How can they do this? One possibility, though unlikely, is that this company acquired all the rights and they now own the copyrights hence the placement of their copyright notice. (By the way it's illegal to place false copyright notice information on a work though it's a common practice). Another possibility is that the company researched the Copyright Office records and determined that the work was public domain. (If that's the case, placing a copyright notice on the work is improper because anybody can copy it freely.) A third possibility is that the work is 'orphaned' -- it's still protected but nobody is looking out for it. And that's why this company can risk offering it.
What about trademarks? It's likely that the last buyer of the Amazing Stories catalog acquired trademark rights. However, nobody appears to claim a valid federal trademark registration to Amazing Stories. In any case, we wouldn't worry too much about that particular issue unless you begin making or selling new products with the Amazing Stories name or logo, or unless you claim some affiliation or association with the Amazing Stories brand.
Your course of action. You can double-check Copyright Office records to see if you can find any renewals for covers prior to 1963. If there are none, you are free to sell your restorations of covers from that time period. You shouldn't include a copyright notice because restoring a public domain work, as difficult as it may be, does not amount to copyrightable subject matter. That doesn't mean you can't be proprietary -- for example, by installing a visible watermark as a Photoshop layer.
Posted by The Dear Rich Staff at 12:50 PM
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
If the Chinese company is creating a prototype. If the company is creating a working model that you can pitch and later manufacture, you would need an agreement to create a prototype (sometimes called a model-maker's agreement). We included an "Agreement for Creation of Prototype or Patent Drawings" in this book. That agreement preserves your IP rights and provides for confidentiality.
Posted by The Dear Rich Staff at 1:34 PM