I am very excited to announce that my new book, Adventures of a Jazz Age Lawyer: Nathan Burkan and the Making of American Popular Culture, will be published by the University of California Press on January 15, 2020. Adventures of a Jazz Age Lawyer is the lively story of legal giant Nathan Burkan, whose career encapsulated the…

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Charlie Chaplin’s films represented only a small fraction of the commerce being transacted in his name, image, and antics during the World War I era. Adventures of a Jazz Age Lawyer recounts how Chaplin’s lawyer, Nathan Burkan, chased down spurious Chaplin films that he considered “vulgar, suggestive, and obscene.”    

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In the post that inaugurated this blog back in 2012, I noted that the Copyright Act’s simple formulation–“copyright protection subsists . . . in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression”–is never more problematic than when applied to the highly collaborative, highly derivative, and oftentimes hugely expensive and risky art and…

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At the moment of her death this past June, it could fairly be said that Gloria Vanderbilt, at the age of 95, had been a celebrity longer than anyone on earth. My forthcoming book, Adventures of a Jazz Age Lawyer: Nathan Burkan and the Making of American Popular Culture, recounts the remarkable events, including the…

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This year marked the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. The commemorations seemed rather muted to me, perhaps because of the inevitable demographic decline of the greatest generation, or perhaps because platinum just doesn’t have the same cachet as silver, gold or diamond. But for copyright mavens 70 years is an especially meaningful…

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The cherubic little fellow pictured on the right is at the center of a closely-watched case involving the “takedown” provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (“DMCA”). His mom, Stephanie Lenz, posted a 30-second YouTube video of the tike “dancing” to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy,” which can be heard playing in the background.…

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A little over two years ago we noted the filing of Good Morning to You Productions v. Warner/Chappell Music, a class action law suit which seeks a declaratory judgment that Warner’s putative copyright on the ubiquitous ditty “Happy Birthday to You” is invalid, along with the refund of millions of dollars in licensing fees collected by Warner over…

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When  last we checked in on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s posthumous intellectual property enforcement activities (“Conan Doyle Estate  Down for the Count“), his estate’s attempt to enjoin publication of a collection of original Sherlock Holmes stories, A Study in Sherlock, was rejected in an opinion written by Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner. In that case…

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Actress Cindy Lee Garcia unknowingly played a role in the allegedly blasphemous Innocence of Muslims trailer that appeared on You Tube in the Summer of 2012, sparking violent unrest in parts of the Islamic world. A five-second, two-line performance that Garcia gave for a film entitled Desert Warrior (“Is George crazy? Our daughter is but a child?”) found its way into…

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The jury has spoken in the Robin Thicke “Blurred Lines” copyright infringement case, finding that the song infringes the copyright on Marvin Gaye’s 1977 “Got to Give it Up” and awarding the Gaye estate  over 7 million dollars in damages. The case has been framed by music industry talking heads and the press as one…

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