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

  • 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
  • The 5 Worst Copyright Lawsuits of 2023 Thousands will compete, many are objectively baseless, but only five can be crowned the worst of the worst copyright lawsuits of 2023. We’re nearing the end of December, which means it’s time for Copyright Lately’s annual worst-of list. This year, I’m counting down the five most frivolous, ill-conceived, and all-around cringeworthy copyright lawsuits of 2023. The rankings come from my decidedly unscientific survey of copyright cases from coast to coast, and we don’t stop until we get to the top. Now,... More
  • Public Domain Day 2024 is Coming: Here’s What to Know Oh Mickey, you’re so fine—but you’re not alone: An avalanche of copyrighted works will enter the public domain in the United States on January 1, 2024. Here’s what it all means. Yes, yes, Steamboat Willie will enter the U.S. public domain on January 1, 2024—and that’s a shame. Before you accuse me of being some sort of Disney shill, I’m not advocating for longer copyright terms. It’s just that the liberation of Mickey Mouse 1.0 has been sucking up so much... More
  • A Five-Course Feast of Thanksgiving-Themed Copyright Cases If you like your turkey with a side of copyright infringement, you’ve come to the right place. Ahh, Thanksgiving. There’s nothing quite like eating dinner at 4 p.m. and falling asleep on your brother’s couch by 4:30. But before you enter your tryptophan-induced coma, feast your eyes on Copyright Lately‘s platter of 5 Thanksgiving-themed copyright cases, all stuffed with a generous helping of legal fowl play. 1. I’ve Got It—Now Who Do I Sue? First up is a 2010 copyright infringement... More
  • Choreography Copyright Gets Its Due in the Ninth Circuit In a first-of-its-kind ruling, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has revived choreographer Kyle Hanagami’s copyright lawsuit against Fortnite’s Epic Games. Choreography is like the Rodney Dangerfield of copyright law. It wasn’t until 1952 that modern dance pioneer Hanya Holm was able to secure the first ever copyright registration for her choreography of the Broadway musical Kiss Me Kate. It took another quarter-century for the U.S. Copyright Act to explicitly recognize standalone “choreographic works” as eligible for copyright protection. Labanotation ain’t... More
  • Inside Donald Trump’s Super-Secret Copyright Defense Trump is actively litigating a copyright infringement lawsuit over the Eddy Grant song “Electric Avenue” while trying to keep relevant deposition testimony in the case permanently under seal. For someone accused of treating classified documents with about the same care as old CVS receipts, Donald Trump is going to great lengths to keep his deposition testimony in a long-running copyright infringement case confidential, redacted, and permanently under seal. I previously wrote about this lawsuit three years ago when musician Eddy Grant first... More
  • Why a Little-Known Copyright Case May Shape the Future of AI While a flurry of AI copyright lawsuits from prominent authors and artists grab headlines, another case has quietly taken something more important: a head start. Even die-hard copyright geeks would be forgiven for overlooking a lawsuit first filed over three years ago by information services company Thomson Reuters against AI start-up Ross Intelligence. That’s because the case involves Westlaw, a legal research tool that’s about as sexy as the underwear section in a 1940s Sears catalog. I say this with peace... More
  • What Copyright’s “Unclaimable Material” Rules Mean for Hollywood’s Use of AI As screenwriters and studios negotiate AI’s role in the entertainment industry, it’s important to be mindful of some core copyright protection principles. In a decision that surprised exactly no one, D.C. District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell ruled last Friday that the Register of Copyrights did not act “arbitrarily or capriciously” in denying a copyright registration to Dr. Stephen Thaler for artwork generated entirely by artificial intelligence. “Human authorship,” Judge Howell wrote, “is a bedrock requirement of copyright,” which has never... More
  • Court to Revisit Fair Use in Tattoo Infringement Case Photographer Jeff Sedlik and tattoo artist Kat Von D each claim that the Supreme Court’s Warhol decision entitles them to summary judgment in their long-running copyright dispute. Fifteen minutes of fame, meet permanent ink. A Los Angeles federal judge is set to decide the impact of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Andy Warhol Foundation v. Goldsmith on a first-of-its-kind copyright infringement lawsuit involving celebrity tattoo artist Katherine Von Drachenberg (aka Kat Von D). Photographer Jeff Sedlik filed the lawsuit in... More