The recent opportunities for remote work and learning have provided improvements in lifestyle for a number of employees and students. Many of those able to work or study from home have benefited from more flexible schedules, reduction in time and money spent on commuting, reduction in work- and school-related stress, and more family time. But those benefits have come with some new challenges. For example, professors and teachers have confronted the challenge of how to prevent students from cheating on exams. When standard approaches failed, a business professor recently turned to copyright law, hoping for a solution.
Continue Reading Can Copyright Law Prevent Cheating on Exams?

In this episode of The Briefing by the IP Law BlogScott Hervey and Josh Escovedo discuss the 8th Circuit’s opinion on copyright protection for architectural plans that could uphend “standard marketing practices” in Real Estate.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Petitioned to Overturn 8th Circuit’s Holding on Architectural Plans that Upends “Standard Marketing Practices” in Real Estate Industry

The Supreme Court granted a petition for writ of certiorari filed by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts that arises from a copyright infringement action filed by photographer Lynn Goldsmith, who took the photos of Prince that were subsequently the subject of Warhol’s allegedly infringing works. In short, Warhol painted multiple works of art utilizing Goldsmith’s photographs as source material. Warhol and now his foundation believed that the work was transformative in nature and therefore not infringing. Goldsmith disagreed and filed suit in federal court.
Continue Reading The Supreme Court Grants Certiorari in Copyright Infringement Action Involving Warhol, Prince, and Goldsmith

In California, an idea theft claim is based in large part on the California Supreme Court case of Desny v. Wilder. In Desny, the plaintiff Victor Desny wrote a script depicting the real-life story of Floyd Collins, a boy who made headlines after he was trapped in a cave eighty feet underground. In an effort to market his script, Desny called Billy Wilder, a writer, producer and director at Paramount Pictures. Desny could not get through to Wilder and subsequently stripped his script to the bare facts so that Wilder’s secretary could copy it in short-hand over the phone.  After reading his synopsis, Desny told Wilder’s secretary that Wilder and Paramount could use the script only if they paid him a reasonable amount for doing so. Shortly thereafter, Wilder created his own movie script mirroring Densy’s. Because Densy’s script was based on historical facts, and because Desny only conveyed the bare minimum of those facts to Wilder’s secretary, both parties conceded for the purpose of the appeal that the synopsis was not sufficiently original to form the basis of a federal copyright claim. The Court, however, held that Densy stated sufficient facts to establish the existence of an implied-in-fact contract between the parties. The California Supreme Court explained that where an idea is furnished by one party to another, a contract sometimes may be implied even in the absence of an express promise to pay; a contract exists where “the circumstances preceding and attending disclosure, together with the conduct of the offeree acting with knowledge of the circumstances, show a promise to pay.
Continue Reading An Idea Doesn’t Have to be Novel to be Stolen (In California)

We previously wrote about a lawsuit filed in the Northern District of California against Instagram regarding the use of Instagram’s embedding tools. The plaintiffs, in that case, are two photojournalists who captured images of the George Floyd protests and the 2016 election and posted them to Instagram. Various media companies embedded the photos using Instagram’s proprietary embedding tools. The photos, therefore, appeared on websites without any license from the original photographers.
Continue Reading Instagram Defeats Embedding Lawsuit