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Ed Sheeran involved in intellectual property litigation

When a person or company makes a creative work or other original idea, steps are often taken to protect that information or work. In many cases, such as with musicians, creative works become well known to the public, and without copyright protections, almost anyone could potentially take elements of a song and plagiarize them without repercussion. However, when someone infringes on a copyright, intellectual property litigation could ensue.

It was recently reported that a lawsuit is currently taking place in New York involving musician Ed Sheeran and the estate of Ed Townsend, who co-wrote the Marvin Gaye hit "Let's Get It On." In the suit, the estate claims that Sheeran plagiarized musical elements, like the bass line and overall harmonic rhythm, from "Let's Get It On" in his song "Thinking Out Loud." It was noted that a video exists of Sheeran easily switching between the two songs during a performance.

Protect your music and rights when you're a new musician

As a musician, there are many things you will do to try to create music that people will enjoy. You might write lyrics, create simple loops or create some tentative recordings of how a song might sound.

If you are going to be signed to a label, it's very important that you take the right steps to protect yourself and your creative rights.

Copyright law releases thousands of works to the public

Earlier this month, over 50,000 copyrighted works entered the public domain. It would not be surprising to know that some in New York may not even understand what that means since the last time books, movies, music and other created works entered the public domain was 1998. Nonetheless, many people have been waiting for the day when films by Charlie Chaplin, books by F. Scott Fitzgerald and songs by George Gershwin would outlive the protections afforded by U.S. copyright law.

Works in the public domain are available for the public to use without fear of violating someone's intellectual property rights. Copyright protection has an expiration date, originally about 75 years or one generation after the creator dies. Many of the works released at the beginning of the new year should have been released to the public in 1999. However, the year before, Congress extended the copyright protection for an additional 20 years.

3 legal myths: Find out the truth

There are many myths about legal representation that could color your opinion of attorneys. It's important to clear up myths so that you can protect yourself when you work with an attorney. You deserve to understand when an attorney is not working in your best interests or when there are problems with communication that come down to a conflict of interest or other issue that could be a sign of legal malpractice.

Not every high bill is a sign of malpractice, nor is an attorney being friends with an opposing attorney. Here's a little more on what you should know.

Disney says 'No worries' about intellectual property claims

Intellectual property law is complex to begin with, but certain claims often create a gray area that requires legal action to clarify. Intellectual property law, including trademarks and patents, allows one person or group to take legal action if someone else attempts to use and profit from a protected work. Trademark protection includes items such as a symbol, design or word that identifies the product. However, it may not always be clear how far that protection may go.

While most claims of trademark violation involve a financial interest, some entities have attempted to trademark words or phrases that are precious to groups for reasons other than money. For example, New York fans of Disney's "The Lion King" may enjoy singing along with the song "Hakuna Matata," a Swahili phrase that Disney trademarked 24 years ago. However, Zimbabwean activists now say Disney had no right to claim this phrase and that capitalizing on it is an insult to the Swahili people.

Teachers in intellectual property litigation over lesson plans

Most everyone remembers that special teacher whose lessons were interesting because they deviated from the textbook. Such teachers often spend many hours preparing lessons and creating innovative ways to make learning joyful for their students. Technology allows these teachers to share their creative lesson plans and to make money doing so. However, some New York educators are resorting to intellectual property litigation because others are profiting from their hard work.

It is common for teachers to create their own websites or blogs where they share their lesson plans as a resource for other educators. Additionally, websites like Teachers Pay Teachers allow instructors to sell their plans and curriculum materials to other teachers. Unfortunately, it is not unusual for a teacher to find that colleagues have taken his or her material from the website and posted it on Teachers Pay Teachers to sell as their own.

Protect your patent the right way

As someone who enjoys using social media to express your interests and to show off your products, you're aware that there is always a threat of someone using your work without your permission. Even if you have a patent, there is a chance that the patent could be infringed upon.

The bad news about having an infringed patent is that it makes you less likely to be competitive in the market. Others might start making products identical to yours. Even if they're not identical, they might be so similar that consumers don't mind whom they buy the product from. This is extremely harmful to businesses.

Verdict blurs lines of intellectual property law

It has been a long ordeal for music artists Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams. Since 2013, the two have faced accusations that their song "Blurred Lines" infringed on the intellectual property of the late Marvin Gaye because of its similarities to "Got to Give It Up," a 1977 R&B hit. Thicke and Pharrell initially attempted to preempt any copyright claims by filing a lawsuit seeking a court's ruling that the song did not infringe on the Gaye's copyrights. A final ruling came down this week.

Marvin Gaye's family countersued Thicke and Pharrell in 2015, and the court sided with them, saying "Blurred Lines" did plagiarize the 1977 song. Thicke and Pharrell also lost on appeal. When they recently missed the deadline for petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case, the case was closed, leaving the Gaye family with a $5.3 million award and 50 percent of future royalties for the song "Blurred Lines."

4 steps to address copyright infringement

As someone who works in design, you know it's possible to have your work stolen. It might be someone who takes the image from the internet and copies it onto a canvas for sale, or it could be someone who prints it on a T-shirt for a campaign and ends up making money off the sales.

Whatever happens, you know it's not legal for them to use your work. You might just be one person, but you do have the right to take legal action against someone who violates your copyright. There are some steps you can take to protect yourself.

Cyberattack at law firm may be result of legal malpractice

There are many occasions when privacy is critical. Counseling sessions, medical records and educational files all contain information that could be destructive if the public saw them. The same is true when someone visits a New York attorney. The information a client shares with a lawyer is privileged, and attorneys are under a strict code of ethics to keep it confidential. However, when an attorney is the victim of a hacking or cyberattack, it may be cause for a legal malpractice claim.

With so much information saved on hard drives, stored in the cloud and shared through emails, it is not unheard of for a law firm to have a data breach. Clients whose confidential personal and case information are compromised in such an attack may not even be aware that the breach has occurred until it is too late. What is an attorney's obligation in this matter?

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