Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Copyright Wars: $100 Million Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Against Oprah Dismissed

We believe in the copyright law. It's been part of our laws since the Constitution was enacted. It's there for a good reason: "to promote the progress of science and useful arts". We advised and represent quite a few copyright owners. But every so often an over-zealous copyright owner goes too far. This could be one of those cases.

Charles Harris wrote a booklet called "How America Elects Her Presidents". During the 2008 election, Oprah read aloud on her tv show questions that were based on material in the book. Apparently one of the questions was literally taken from Harris' book: "Which one of our presidents weighed the most?". [Answer: William Howard Taft at over 325 pounds]. Harris filed a lawsuit which requested millions of dollars in damages. Oprah filed a Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit and the judge agreed when he ruled that the allegedly infringed parts of his book were not original, and that Oprah's recitation of the Taft fact, even if she did take it from Harris' book, was not an actionable copyright infringement.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Problem With the Music Business Isn't the Music

For reasons I can't exactly put my finger on, in the last three weeks I've had the great fortune to see a series of remarkable live musical performances. They range from Eric Clapton to Los Lobos, KD Lang, Daniel Lanois' Black Dub, Steve Poltz, Lucy Schwartz, Bushwalla and Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears. I know I keep reading that the music business is in trouble. And I'm sure it is. But there's nothing wrong with the music that's being written and performed. Great music is still out there. For my money, there is still no substitute for seeing a great performer do it live. The music business may be having trouble figuring out how to adjust to the changes brought about by the rise of the Internet, but as long people LOVE music - and I'm betting that's never going to stop - there will always be a way for great music to get out there. Just as long as people who love it support it.