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The Know Your Rights Blog


Indeed while it is Gryphon Publishing Consulting's mission to help publishers grow their reach through licensing as well as license third party materials the right way (i.e., inbound and outbound permissions and rights), it still is surprising to meet publishers or authors who aren't aware of the potential of this ancillary marketplace for their content.

MJ was recently interviewed by the IBPA's Independent magazine on the viability of licensing for publishers. While the overall licensing market for a particular book or list depends on the type of property and its overall appeal, most titles can indeed benefit from a smart licensing plan.

Check out the article here and please do let us know in the comments if you have any questions or follow-up that you'd further detail on in a forthcoming article. Or of course, you are welcome to contact us directly for more information and a free consultation of your business' licensing potential.

#licensing #rights #books #publishing #permissions #outboundandinboundlicensing

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  • Writer's pictureMJ

Updated: Jul 27, 2020

We've mentioned before that copyright vests in the content creator as soon as a new work is placed in a fixed format (whether print, online, or recorded; it really doesn't matter).

Copyright holders, when they feel that their work has been infringed, can sue for damages (which may be awarded as fines or even jail time), but this is only enforceable in the courts when the copyright holder has registered their work with the Copyright Office.

Accusations of infringement are seemingly everywhere. Louis Menand wrote in the New Yorker last October a brilliant review of not just the history and philosophy of copyright law, but a decent overview of some of the current issues in courts.

One item in the article would be interesting to most people: the latest suit over the copyright of the ubiquitous song "Happy Birthday To You." The melody to the song was originally composed by two sisters as "Good Morning to You" in the 1880s or 1890s, but the author of the words then applied to the song we sing to our loved ones annually has never been conclusively decided. But people keep trying to claim copyright.

Does this mean that you, person on the street, will have to pay a royalty each time you sing this song, whether it is to your adorable son on his 2nd birthday or your 90-year old Meemaw? No, according to the final settlement issued on June 30, 2016 (see this article on Law360).

We are not saying that there is a future out there where anyone could be sued for infringement because they are singing a tune that has been popular for more than 100 years, but these issues point out that the proper licensing of copyrighted material is something everyone should be concerned with. As more and more websites and electronic media are created and delivered to people at lightning-fast speed each day, the probability that copyrighted material is shared improperly becomes more of a possibility. This in turn makes it more difficult for rightsholders to protect their work.

It is important for everyone--not simply authors, artists and publishers--to understand copyright and how intellectual property can be properly shared. This is where GPC comes in. Let us help you learn more!

  • Writer's pictureMJ

Artists find inspiration virtually anywhere: the world itself provides queues to messages and stories that need to be told through photography, art, poetry and literature.

An existing work might spark a new work or even inspire a statement or criticism of that original work, but artists, photographers and writers need to be aware when their adaptation might indeed cross the line into infringement.

A recent article appearing in CNN chronicled one recent case. The artist in question, Chris Devins, stated that the idea for his mural of Michelle Obama as an Egyptian queen on a public building in Chicago was based on an image he found on Pinterest. The artist also claimed he didn't know who owned the image.

Creating a new work inspired by another previously-exisiting work without formal permission can land an artist in plenty of hot water. US Copyright law protects a creator's interest in their work and all derivatives and adaptations (see this circular for more detail). It is imperative that the person or company who wishes to use another's work do their due diligence and attempt to locate the rightsholder before proceeding (and yes, in some circumstances, Fair Use may come into play, but that's a matter for another post).

This is not to say that finding a rightsholder is an easy venture. Best practices suggest allowing at least 4-6 weeks to complete permissions research and clearance. That said, the search process can take much longer because the first source you find for an image or excerpt might not automatically lead you to the rightsholder.

When seeking the rightsholder for literature, the first place to start is with the copyright or credits page of the publication where you found the material. The person or entity listed there will likely be your source, but realize that when rights are reverted or sold you may be ultimately working with someone else entirely. A search on the Copyright Office's Online Records will also be of great help for items copyrighted after 1978.

Images can pose particular challenges, especially if you found an image posted on social media. If the account posting is not the originator of the image, and your contact for the account doesn't know who does hold the rights, a reverse image search is a good first step. "Start with Tineye or [a similar search engine]...." says Liz Grady, a photo rights clearance expert. Remember that images can (and should be) registered at the US Copyright Office as well, so a search for an image there with a certain description may reveal the rightsholder.

Just as with excerpts from publications, you might find yourself up against a wall. Liz has helpful advice even then: "If you hit a complete dead end - meaning you absolutely cannot track down the copyright holder - pick another picture, pure and simple."

It's certainly better to be copyright than copy wrong.

#adapt #copyrightlaw #infringment #permission #adaptation

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