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Websites confused about intellectual property ownership

It is the dream of many New York musicians and songwriters to create a legacy of music that will live for generations. Most composers find it flattering when other musicians cover their songs in concert or on recordings. Composers of the classical genre may never have imagined how long their music would thrive or how many musicians would honor them with performances of their songs. Unfortunately, some of those musicians are finding themselves facing intellectual property disputes because of content filtering systems used by many websites.

Content filtering systems on YouTube and Facebook locate copyrighted material that members post on their pages, and flag them as violations. While music in the classical genre is often in the public domain, record companies own the modern recordings of those pieces. Recently, a classical pianist posted on Facebook a video of himself playing a piece by Bach, which was then flagged by the website's filtering system. Sony Music Global then sent the musician a notice of copyright infringement.

Understand the terms of service before posting online

If you're interested in posting photos online and want to make sure you get your social media presence known, you still need to understand how social media works. In many cases, you won't retain the sole right to your images.

When you post content on the internet, you own the copyright right away. As soon as the idea, photo, poem or other document is online, you have a timestamp and can claim it as your own. However, there's a problem. You can't usually stop the service from using your photos or information in whatever way it's allowed through the site's terms of service.

School acknowledges intellectual property violation

School mascots are meant to inspire and rally students to strive for success. Those mascots are often symbols of desirable traits, such as strength, perseverance or indomitability. Sometimes, however, a New York school chooses its mascot or logo because it is familiar to students. For one school in another state, a familiar mascot was also a violation of intellectual property rights.

The communications manager of the middle school informed the media that the school recently made the choice to change its mascot and logo from Sylvester, the Looney Tunes cartoon cat, to a more generic and ferocious-looking feline. The school had not yet received a cease and desist letter for its use of the copyrighted image. However, school officials have had increasing difficulty getting copy centers to violate copyright law by reproducing documents and flyers that carried the Sylvester the Cat logo.

Attorney disbarred for legal malpractice

Hiring an attorney often takes a leap of faith. New York clients entrust their privacy, their money and their future in the hands of legal professionals with the expectation of honesty and the hope of a positive resolution to their issues. Because so much is often at stake when someone turns to a lawyer, the legal profession holds attorneys to the highest ethical standards. When those standards are not met, a lawyer may face charges of legal malpractice.

For one attorney in another state, violating the rules for the ethical practice of law recently resulted in his disbarment. The state's supreme court took this drastic action following an investigation by the disciplinary board that revealed the attorney had commingled funds. Strictly forbidden by the attorney code of conduct, commingling funds occurs when an attorney mixes personal funds with money held in trust for clients.

Are tweets protected by copyright law?

As society advances and people find new ways of expressing themselves, laws protecting their rights must change as well. However, it is well-known that changes in laws do not always happen quickly. One example of this is copyright law, which struggles to keep up with creativity expressed through technology. Users of social media in New York and across the country may wonder how much of what they post is protected from copyright infringement.

So far, no law exists to allow a user of the social media platform Twitter to register a tweet for copyright protection. In fact, copyright law states that short phrases like slogans cannot receive such protection from the U.S. Copyright Office. Tweets, originally 140 characters, are now as long as 280 characters. However, it is not always the length of the text that qualifies or disqualifies a piece of writing for protection.

3 types of legal malpractice to watch out for

There are many kinds of legal malpractice, and as someone seeking the help of an attorney, it's important that you understand them and can recognize them when they occur. Legal malpractice impacts you as a client and could even affect your ability to have a successful lawsuit or claim.

There are three kinds of malpractice you can watch out for. These include failing to file documents by the deadlines, poor communication and conflicts of interest. Here's a little more on each one and what to expect.

Aretha Franklin wanted respect for her intellectual property

The recent passing of Aretha Franklin was sad news to fans in New York and across the world. While her first hit song "Respect" became an anthem of empowerment for women and all those seeking fair treatment, it ironically represents the inequity many pre-1972 performers experienced under intellectual property laws. While songwriters and publishers received royalties for songs each time a radio station played them, the recording artists got nothing.

Penned and recorded originally by Otis Redding, "Respect" was about a man asking his wife to show him proper esteem even if she can't be faithful. Franklin's version of the song not only added her unique vocal flare but it also altered the meaning to reflect a woman demanding respect from her husband in exchange for her faithfulness. However, even this originality did not earn Franklin royalties since the laws governing copyright did not include music recorded prior to the signing of the law in 1972.

Your attorney won't return calls? Here's what could happen

There is almost nothing as frustrating as dealing with an attorney who won't return your calls when you know there are deadlines and steps you need to take to file a claim or lawsuit. You understand that attorneys get busy, go to trials and have other matters to attend to, but after the first two times you called, you felt you should have gotten some sort of reply.

You're not wrong. In fact, poor communication between an attorney and client can be a reason to seek a legal malpractice lawsuit later. Why? There are a few problems that not returning calls or other forms of communication can cause.

Intellectual property litigation asks how far protections go

New York parents often enjoy watching movies at home with their children, but it can be upsetting when an inappropriate scene pops up on the screen. Parents may scramble for the remote to mute the language or fast forward past the violence or sexual content, but they are rarely fast enough to avoid the offensive material. Many families were glad to discover services that would remove the language, violence and disturbing images from the most popular films, but now, the filtering company is involved in intellectual property litigation.

VidAngel, Inc., reviews and sanitizes popular movies and TV shows before streaming them to subscribers for a fee. While parents may love the service, numerous major film companies, including Disney and Twentieth Century Fox, have taken issue with the editing VidAngel does. They say copyright law permits them to refuse to allow anyone to alter their work and re-present it to the public for profit without permission.

Maker of unique cheese seeks to bend copyright law

When someone in New York gets a great idea for a product or work of art, he or she may investigate ways to make the idea lucrative. This includes protecting it from those who may want to use it for their own benefit. However, not everything can be protected by copyright law. Ideas, names, phrases and things that are commonly known cannot be copyrighted, nor can titles or recipes. However, U.S. chefs are wondering how an international decision may affect the food industry in this country.

A Dutch company wants to copyright the flavor of its most popular and unique cheese. In the United States, a chef may not gain copyright protection for a single recipe or list of ingredients. However, if he or she uses a certain method for creating the dish, that method may be copyrighted. Chefs often have signature dishes that they feel incorporate more than just a list of ingredients. However, in the world of instant information, the dish can quickly move beyond the control of the individual chef.

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