It is always satisfying to artists when others recognize their vision in a work of art. For example, when an artist created a replica of the Statue of Liberty for a resort in another state, he hoped the general public would notice the contemporary, even sexy, changes he made in the statue's image. Apparently, the U.S. Postal Service did not notice those differences when it chose the image for one of its stamps. However, even a mistake can be a violation of copyright law.
Few in New York will disagree that the rise in popularity of streaming music websites and apps has created confusion and conflict in the realm of copyrights. While the U.S. Congress works to bring copyright law into the modern age, it also seeks to add protections for some musical works that, because of a cutoff point in previous laws, have not fallen under the governance of the laws. This means that the creators of many of those works made before 1972 have had no recourse for protecting their work from indiscriminate use without compensation.
Netflix began as a small start-up, loaning DVDs to customers through the mail. In a short amount of time, it became a global entertainment company, providing movies, games and other technology to subscribers in New York and across the world. Recently, however, a dark cloud has fallen over the company in the form of copyright law violations.
It is not always surprising when someone violates the intellectual property rights of an artist in New York or elsewhere since laws protecting creative works are often complex and fluctuating. One of the more confusing aspects of copyright law is the concept of public domain. A work of art in the public domain is available for anyone to use without needing permission from or payment to its owner.
Fans of Jerry Seinfeld may have been delighted when his Netflix series, "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" debuted in 2012. Those who loved "Seinfeld" in the 1990s enjoy his witty banter with other A-list comedians in a talk show with the gimmick of driving around New York and other cities in a car chosen by Seinfeld and stopping at coffee shops. While it may seem like a clever idea, one man claims the comedian stole his concept for the show, and he is invoking copyright law to stake his claim.
Having a copyright means having the legal right to prevent someone else from using or profiting from a creative work. The owner of a copyright may take legal action if someone else takes credit for the creative work or uses it in such a way that the creator is denied the benefits. However, there is a part of copyright law that some in New York may not understand, and that is the concept of public domain. After a certain amount of time, a copyright expires, and the work becomes available for the public to use without any restrictions.
When a favorite song comes on the radio, most people in New York turn it up and enjoy it without thinking about the royalties the artist or songwriter may be receiving from it. In fact, many pay for satellite radio or use apps like Pandora to hear more of the songs they enjoy most. Some of the more popular stations play songs from decades past, such as the 60s, 70s and 80s. However, copyright law does not protect the music created in all of these eras.
Every generation has its moments of life-changing invention. The telephone, the computer, the internet and more have changed the way people interact with each other. As society changes, laws struggle to keep up. Even now, with the advent of artificial intelligence, those who study copyright law suggest changes may be on the horizon.
The Swedish music streaming company Spotify has been blasted with a $1.6 billion dollar copyright lawsuit for allegedly using thousands of songs without a license and failing to pay compensation to the music publisher.
Social media is popular for its ability to carry ideas through networks of people at lightning speed. New York users of social media may post and share videos, pictures, quotes and other items in the hopes that they will go viral. What users of social media may not understand is that some of the items they share may be protected by copyright law.