Tag Archives: copyright

Mark Twain’s ghost haunts copyright history

After years of toying with the idea, Kash finally convinced me to write up the bizarre copyright story that started seven years after Mark Twain’s death, when his ghost reportedly dictated a new novel, via Ouija board, to Emily Grant Hutchings. His publisher said: well, if Twain wrote it, we own it. So the more […]

NYPD denies records of copyright communications it had previously acknowledged

A few media outlets reported last summer that the NYPD, in its continuing efforts to crack down on the sometimes-annoying costumed characters in Times Square, had asked Disney and Marvel to initiate copyright action there. Disney and Marvel didn’t bite. I requested the communications (or records thereof) under New York’s Freedom of Information Law, and […]

Emoji history of US copyright

The number of kinds of works covered by copyright has increased a lot over the years. The first copyright act, in 1790, covered just books, maps, and charts. Subsequent laws have added things like music, photos, and film. For a real history you can check the Copyright Office circular, but here’s an emoji timeline. 1790: […]

Public domain victory! SpaceX photos now belong to you

It’s an exciting time for photographs from space. Last month, when Elon Musk’s privately held company SpaceX posted photos taken during a successful satellite launch, I noted that, unlike every picture NASA has ever taken, these wouldn’t enter the public domain immediately by default. It may have been an unintended side effect of the copyright […]

“Blurred Lines” trial starts today

I wrote a piece for a new-ish publication called Ratter about the impending copyright trial between Pharrell, Robin Thicke, and the estate of Marvin Gaye, about whether the song “Blurred Lines” infringes on “Got To Give It Up.” In particular, the judge has done some unusual things in terms of what is allowable evidence, given […]