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5 Legal Myths About Writing
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5 Legal Myths About Writing

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  • 1. { Ascentage Law, PLLC Legal  services  for  creative  minds Email: mab@ascentagelaw.com Cambridge, Massachusetts USA Phone: +1-617-475-1603 Portsmouth, New Hampshire USA Phone: +1-603-227-0500
  • 2. Ñ  Ascentage  Law  is  a  boutique  business,  IP,  &   licensing  firm  located  in  Cambridge,  Massachuse?s   USA  and  Portsmouth,  New  Hampshire  USA. Ñ  What  type  of  legal  work  do  we  do? Ó  Patents Ó  Copyrights Ó  Trademarks Ó  Licensing Ó  Corporate/business  law Ó  Publishing  law Firm  Background
  • 3. { { What  it  is: Ñ  Educational Ñ  Informational Ó  Please  ask  quesitons   but  keep  them   general  so  they  can   apply  to  everyone! Ñ  Fun What  it  is  not: Ñ  An  analysis  of  the   quality  of  your  work Ñ  A  guarantee  people   will  buy  your  work Ñ  The  end-­‐‑all,  be-­‐‑all  on   legal  issues  and  advice Ñ  The  creation  of  an   a?orney-­‐‑client   relationship Tonight’s  workshop
  • 4. { Ñ  I  can  protect  the  title  of  my   book  just  like  I  can  protect   the  name  of  my  business. Not  really… Myth  #1
  • 5. { { Trademark  Law Ñ  “A  word,  phrase,  symbol  or   design,  or  a  combination  of   words,  phrases,  symbols  or   designs,  that  identifies  and   distinguishes  the  source  of   the  goods  of  one  party  from   those  of  others.” Ñ  Examples Ó  FedEx,  McDonald’s,  Big  Mac,   Pizza  Hut,  Pepsi Copyright  Law Ñ  “Original  works  of   authorship  fixed  in  a   tangible  medium  of   expression” Ñ  Examples Ó  Books,  poetry,  artwork,   musical  lyrics,  musical   compositions,  computer   code,  pictures Copyright  v.  Trademark
  • 6. But  wait…what  about  the   “For  Dummies”  series…
  • 7. Copyright  Law  101 Ñ  What  rights  do  I  have  to  my   work  under  copyright  law? Ó  Reproduction  right  -­‐‑-­‐‑  the  right  to   make  copies  of  a  protected  work Ó  Distribution  right  -­‐‑-­‐‑  the  right  to   sell  or  otherwise  distribute  copies   to  the  public Ó  Right  to  create  adaptations   (called  derivative  works)  -­‐‑-­‐‑  the   right  to  prepare  new  works   based  on  the  protected  work,  and Ó  Performance  and  display  rights  -­‐‑-­‐‑   the  rights  to  perform  a  protected   work  (such  as  a  stageplay)  or  to   display  a  work  in  public. Ñ  NOTE:  There  are  a  few  more  but   these  are  the  main  ones Ñ  What  does  copyright   NOT  protect? Ó  Ideas Ó  Facts Ó  Individual  book  titles
  • 8. { Ñ  A  copyright  filing  is  not   necessary    for  protection. No…yes…sort  of. Myth  #2
  • 9. Ñ  Establishes  public  record  of  claim Ñ  Must  file  before  infringement  lawsuit  in  US Ñ  If  done  w/in  5  years  of  publication,  “prima   facie”  evidence  of  ownership Ñ  If  done  w/in  3  months  of  publication,  statutory   damages  &  a?orney’s  fees  can  be  awarded Ó  Without  this  only  actual  damages  &  profits Ñ  US  Customs  Service  registration Benefits  of  Copyright   Registration
  • 10. Ñ  Process Ó  eFile  -­‐‑  $35 Ó  Paper  –  Form  TX Ñ  Ownership Ó  Single  authorship Ó  Co-­‐‑authorship Ó  Work  made  for  hire Ñ  Duration Ó  Generally  =  Life  of  the  author  +  70  years Ó  Works  made  for  hire,  anonymous,  or  pseudonym  =   95  from  first  publication  OR  120  years  from   creation,  whichever  is  first Registering  your   copyright  is  easy!
  • 11. Ñ  Insert  a  copyright  notice Ó  Copyright  2013  Mitchell  A.  Bragg.  All  rights   reserved. Ñ  Location Ó  Title  page,  inside  of  the  title  page,  the  page   immediately  following  the  title  page Ó  Bo?om  of  website Ó  On  fliers  /  handouts What  if  you  still  do  not  want   to  register  your  work?
  • 12. { Ñ  I  can  use  the  work  of  someone   else  as  long  as  I  give  credit. Ñ  I  can  use  the  work  of  someone   else  as  long  as  it  is  on  the   internet. Ñ  I  can  use  the  work  of  someone   else  as  long  as  I  use  less  than   20%,  less  than  3  lines,  or  less   than  3  notes. No. Myth(s)  #3
  • 13. Ñ  Public  domain  works  =  all  works  published  in   the  U.S.  before  1923 Ó  After  that  it  can  get  tricky… Ñ  What  about  the  less  than  20%,  3  cord,  3  line,  etc.   “rules”? Ó  They  are  not  true. Ñ  When  in  doubt,  get  permission! What  can  I  use  that  is  made   by  others?
  • 14. Ñ  What  is  it? Ó  Makes  it  legally  permissible  for  you  to  use  a   copyrighted  work  without  permission  for  purposes   such  as  commentary,  criticism,  parody,  news   reporting,  and  scholarship Ñ  Factors Ó  the  purpose  and  character  of  the  use,  including   whether  such  use  is  of  a  commercial  nature  or  is  for   nonprofit  educational  purposes;   Ó  the  nature  of  the  copyrighted  work;   Ó  the  amount  and  substantiality  of  the  portion  used  in   relation  to  the  copyrighted  work  as  a  whole;   Ó  and  the  effect  of  the  use  upon  the  potential  market   for  or  value  of  the  copyrighted  work.   What  about  “fair  use”?
  • 15. { Ñ  I  can  write  about  whatever   and  whoever  I  want  if  I  say   it  is  fiction. No. Myth  #4
  • 16. Defamation Ñ  Definition Ó  A  legal  claim   involving  injury  to   one'ʹs  reputation   caused  by  a  false   statement  of  fact Ñ  Publication  of  the  statement Ó  Something  was  communicated  to  a  third-­‐‑ party Ñ  Statement  is  about  the  plaintiff Ó  It  need  not  name  the  person  explicitly  if   there  is  enough  to  ID  the  person) Ñ  The  statement  harmed  the  reputation  of   the  plaintiff Ó  This  means  that  it  more  than  just  insulting,   it  must  do  more,  such  as  lower  the  person   in  the  esteem  of  his  peers  or  cause  injury  to   his  business/trade) Ñ  Published  with  some  level  of  fault Ó  This  means  the  defendant  failed  to  do   something  he  should  of  done  or  did   something  he  should  not  have  done) Ñ  No  applicable  privilege  applies Ó  public  officials,  public  figures  or  ma?ers  of   public  concern
  • 17. Ñ  Common  Defenses Ó  Pure  opinion Ó  Fair  comment Ó  The  truth Defamation
  • 18. { { Libel Ñ  Wri?en Slander Ñ  Spoken Types  of  Defamation
  • 19. { { Invasion  of  Privacy Ñ  Definition Ó  Publishing  private   facts  about  an   individual,  the   publication  of  which   would  be  offensive  to   a  reasonable  person,   so  long  as  the  facts  are   not  “newsworthy” False  light,  rights  of  publicity,  &   misappropriation Ñ  Definition Ó  Protect  people  from   offensive  and  false   facts  stated  about   them  to  the  public Ó  Protect  people  from   false  endorsements Other  concerns  when  sharing   facts  about  others
  • 20. { Ñ  I  can’t  do  this  on  my  own. No. Myth  #5
  • 21. Ñ  Legal  books Ó  The  Fine  Print  of  Self  Publishing  by  Mark  Levine Ó  The  Copyright  Handbook  by  Stephen  Fishman Ó  Patent,  Copyright,  &  Trademark  by  Richard  Stim Ñ  Websites/blogs Ó  Citizen  Media  Law  Project  –   www.citmedialaw.org Ó  Stanford  Fair  Use  –  fairuse.stanford.edu Ó  U.S.  Copyright  Office  circulars–  h?p:// www.copyright.gov/circs/ Resources
  • 22. { Ascentage Law, PLLC Legal  services  for  creative  minds Email: mab@ascentagelaw.com Cambridge, Massachusetts USA Phone: +1-617-475-1603 Portsmouth, New Hampshire USA Phone: +1-603-227-0500