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LAW OFFICESHOWE & HUTTON, LTD.ST. LOUIS OFFICE: 20 NORTH WACKER DRIVE WASHINGTON, DC OFFICE:1421 BUCKHU R ST CO UR T CHICA...
copyright ownership but instead should have a written document with the contractor which statesthat this is a “work made f...
Conference planners also hire photographers for their conferences. Since thephotographer owns the rights to the picture, p...
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Meetings and the law copyright faq art

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Meetings and the Law: Must Knows for the Digital Age

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  1. 1. LAW OFFICESHOWE & HUTTON, LTD.ST. LOUIS OFFICE: 20 NORTH WACKER DRIVE WASHINGTON, DC OFFICE:1421 BUCKHU R ST CO UR T CHICAGO, ILLINOIS 60606-9833 1901 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE, N.W.B ALLW IN, M IS SO UR I 63021 TELEPHONE (312) 263–3001 SU ITE 1007TE LEP HO NE (636) 256-3351 FAX (312) 372–6685 W ASH ING TON, DC 20006FAX (636) 256-3727__________TELEPHONE (202) 466-7252FAX (202) 466-5829hh@howehutton.comIntellectual Property Basics: CopyrightsPart 2 of a 2 Part SeriesBy:Barbara F. Dunn, Esq.Many conference planners do not understand the importance of intellectual property inthe context of their organization’s conferences. This column is designed to provide plannerswith the essential elements of intellectual property and to illustrate how intellectual propertyissues can arise within religious conferences. In our last column we focused on trademarks. Thiscolumn will focus on copyright.DefinitionCopyright is a property right in an original work of authorship such as an article, book,sermon, picture, music, or software. This property right arises from the moment a work iscreated. Ideas, which are not reduced into some tangible form, and facts, such as names andaddresses, are not eligible for copyright protection. Also government publications, such as anIRS publication, are not subject to copyright and may be used freely.OwnershipThe creator of the work owns the copyright to the work unless the person who created thework is an employee of an organization and created the work in the scope of their employment.If both requirements are met, the employer owns the copyright to the work.There is a doctrine known as “work made for hire” which will also determine ownership.Under the doctrine, a contractor hired to produce a work for another automatically transfersownership in the work to the hiring party. This doctrine, however, has been limited by recentcase law. Organizations should not rely on the work made for hire doctrine alone to obtain______________________________________________________________________________©Copyright 2007. Howe & Hutton, Ltd. Chicago, IL, Washington, DC and St. Louis, MO. All rights reserved underboth international and Pan American copyright conventions.
  2. 2. copyright ownership but instead should have a written document with the contractor which statesthat this is a “work made for hire” and that the contractor is transferring and assigning all rightsto the organization.Rights of Copyright OwnersCopyright owners have a “bundle” of rights in their work. Such rights are:• Reproduce the work – this means only the copyright owner has the right to makecopies, photocopies or otherwise, of the work.• Prepare derivative works – this is the right to modify or revise a work, such as tocome out with a second edition of a book, or a play derived from a book, or totranslate the work into another language• Distribute the work – only the copyright owner can sell the work.• Perform the work, such as a play or a musical work.• Display the work – this is the exclusive right that the copyright owner has todisplay a work of art, for example.Under the Copyright Act, for works created on or after January 1, 1978, the above rights belongto the copyright owner for the life of the owner plus 70 years following their death.RegistrationFederal registration of copyrights is recommended but is not required. The registrationprocess is straightforward and does not require using a lawyer to complete the application. Formore information about copyright registration, see www.copyright.gov.NoticeSince copyright arises from the moment the work is created, organizations should includea copyright notice with their works. Following is a sample copyright notice:©Copyright [year(s) of first publication]. [Name of Organization] [City, State, and Country ofOffice(s)] [Optional direction: “All rights reserved”; “No right of reproduction without the priorwritten consent of Organization”; “Reproduction permitted with credit to Organization”]So How Does Copyright Apply to Conference Planners?Conference planners are often faced with a variety of copyright issues. For example,when planners retain speakers for their organization’s conference, the speaker owns thecopyright to their presentation and to their handouts. If the organization wants to audiotape,videotape, or photograph the speaker or if the organization wants to reproduce the speaker’shandouts or put them online or on a CD-Rom, the organization must first secure permission fromthe speaker to do so. Such permission is called a “license”. The best vehicle to secure a licenseis a speaker agreement.
  3. 3. Conference planners also hire photographers for their conferences. Since thephotographer owns the rights to the picture, planners should ensure that the contract with thephotographer transfers ownership to the organization. This transfer of ownership is known as an“assignment”. By owning the pictures, the organization can freely reproduce them, display themon their web site, etc.Another copyright issue which planners face is music licensing. The copyright to aparticular piece of music is owned by the composer. Performing rights societies such as BMIand ASCAP were formed to represent the interests of music composers. If an organization wantsto play music at its meetings, it must secure a license from the performing rights society whichrepresents the composer of such music. Performing rights societies offer organizations a“blanket” license agreement in which the group can pay one fee per year for all music playedduring the year at the organization’s conferences and events. Note that music played during areligious service is exempt from the license requirement.Planners should also be aware that when they hire contractors (non-employees), theymust obtain either ownership of the work (via assignment) or permission to use the work (vialicense) from the contractor. For example, if the organization retains the services of a graphicartist to design its conference brochure, the agreement with the graphic artist should state that thebrochure is a “work made for hire” and that the graphic artist is transferring their rights in thebrochure to the organization. Note also that if volunteers, such as church members, create workssuch as songs, articles, or photographs, the organization must obtain a copyright assignment fromthe volunteer or a license from the volunteer to use the work.Copyright InfringementIt is important for copyright owners to monitor their work to ensure that no one isinfringing on their rights – that is using their work without their permission. If a copyright ownerbecomes aware that someone is infringing on their copyright, the copyright owner may seek acopyright infringement claim against the unauthorized user. If the work is registered with theUnited States Copyright Office, the owner may seek damages in federal court.SummaryAs you can see, copyright issues frequently arise when planning conferences. Plannersshould ensure that the proper measures are in place to protect copyrighted works owned by theirorganization and to seek proper permission to use the copyrighted works of others.Barbara Dunn is an attorney and partner with Howe & Hutton, Ltd, a law firm which specializesin the representation of groups in the meetings, travel and hospitality industry. She can becontacted at bfd@howehutton.com.

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