Aaron J. Moss

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Copyright Lately Blog

Copyright Lately Blog

News, insight and analysis on legal issues involving creative works and intellectual property rights.

Recent Blog Posts

  • Comedy Central and Bobby Moynihan Prevail in Manatee Melee Repeat after me: You can’t copyright the idea of an animated talking manatee. From the legal system that brought us “Banana Meets Duct Tape” and “101 Pooping Puppies Too Many” comes “Dude, You Stole My Manatee!,” the latest ill-advised plunge into the murky waters of the idea-expression dichotomy. The sea creature at the center of this marine mishap is “Jukebox Manatee,” an animated talking manatee with a laid-back attitude and a human girlfriend who “suffers misfortunes as a commentary on life... More
  • Cher and Share Alike: Singer Wins Copyright Termination Lawsuit Judge to Cher: “I Got You Paid,” as court rejects Mary Bono’s bid to use copyright recapture to overturn a decades-old divorce settlement. It took nearly three years of litigation, but in the end, Mary Bono’s copyright terminations weren’t strong enough to overcome Cher’s 1978 marital settlement agreement with Sonny Bono. In a decision issued yesterday (read here), Los Angeles federal judge John Kronstadt ruled that Mary Bono must continue paying Cher her fair share of royalties from musical compositions created... More
  • Scarlett Johansson, OpenAI and the Voice of Things to Come? Johansson says the new ChatGPT voice is “eerily similar” to her own. Does the actress have a case? Matt Belloni and I break it down on today’s episode of The Town. In 2013, The New Republic gave Spike Jonze’s film Her a dubious honor, calling it the scariest movie of the year. The titular “Her” is Samantha, an AI personal assistant, and the movie paints a disguised dystopia in which humans are all too easily subjugated to the seductive voice of... More
  • Why the Supreme Court’s Latest Copyright Ruling May Be Short-Lived The ink’s not even dry on Warner Chappell Music v. Nealy, yet the Court is already poised to make its new decision on copyright damages obsolete. Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its much-anticipated opinion in Warner Chappell Music, Inc. v. Nealy, ruling that, so long as a claim is timely filed, a copyright plaintiff is “entitled to damages, no matter when the infringement occurred.” Creative Cheers and Legal Uncertainties The Court’s decision was immediately celebrated by artists, photographers, and other members... More
  • Amazon Looks Ready to Brawl Over ‘Road House’ Copyright Termination Amazon and MGM Studios raise the stakes in a copyright termination fight over the Road House reboot, claiming that writer Lance Hill’s use of a loan-out corporation prevents him from recapturing the copyright in the original screenplay. MGM Studios and its parent company, Amazon Studios, are punching back against a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by R. Lance Hill, screenwriter of the 1989 cult classic Road House. If you haven’t seen this Patrick Swayze trash action masterpiece, I’m assuming your parents didn’t... More
  • Paramount Flies Clear of Copyright Turbulence in “Top Gun” Lawsuit A federal court has shot down a copyright infringement lawsuit claiming that Top Gun: Maverick flew too close to a 1983 magazine article that inspired the original film. A California federal judge has permanently grounded a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by the heirs of Ehud Yonay, the writer whose 1983 article in California Magazine inspired the original Top Gun film. Yonay’s widow and son launched the legal action in June 2022 after Paramount Pictures released the blockbuster sequel Top Gun: Maverick without... More
  • State Farm’s Nod to Nostalgia Sparks Copyright Clash With Atari A botched attempt to target young gamers lands the insurance company in court, as Atari sues over a classic console’s unauthorized ad appearance. It’s a mistake that could have been avoided. Video game publisher Atari Interactive has launched a copyright infringement lawsuit against State Farm, claiming that the insurer improperly appropriated artwork from Atari’s 1983 arcade game “Crystal Castles” for an advertising campaign as part of a “cynical plot” to resonate with fickle millennial and Gen Z consumers. Crystal Castles, Atari’s 1983... More
  • War of the Wordles: Did the New York Times Go Too Far? Using the DMCA to target hundreds of Wordle-likes, the publication claims exclusive rights in the game’s grid dimensions and color scheme. Fresh on the heels of filing an infringement lawsuit against OpenAI, The New York Times Co. is flexing its copyright muscles once again, this time targeting the developers of hundreds of games inspired by Wordle, the popular word game the Times purchased in 2022. While some of these games are straight-up clones, others share little in common with Wordle... More
  • Why the Carlin Estate’s Lawsuit Over Fake Comedy Special May Be DOA While billed as a groundbreaking move in the battle over unauthorized digital replicas, the George Carlin estate’s new lawsuit faces tough challenges in court. The late, great George Carlin once said, “I think it’s the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately.” Subversive comedy was Carlin’s stock-in-trade, but a new lawsuit claims that an AI-generated Carlin impersonation is a bridge too far. In case you missed it, earlier this year a couple... More
  • Kat Von D Tattoo Infringement Trial Begins (and Ends!): What You Need To Know A federal jury is set to decide whether celebrity tattoo artist Kat Von D infringed photographer Jeff Sedlik’s copyright in a Miles Davis portrait by tattooing the image onto her client’s body. A first-of-its-kind copyright infringement trial begins today in Los Angeles. Like the tattoo at issue in the case, the lawsuit is poised to leave a lasting impression, not only on copyright law, but the entire multi-billion-dollar tattoo industry. UPDATE—January 27, 2024—Kat Von D has prevailed at trial, with the... More