Copyrights and Wrongs

Attorney Jennifer Elgin offers 10 tips to help distributors avoid getting sued by content owners
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With online billed as the next big video delivery medium, Jennifer Elgin, an attorney with Wiley Rein in Washington, offers 10 tips to help distributors avoid getting sued by content owners and the ensuing “expensive ‘game-ending’ consequences.”

1. Materials found on the Internet generally are not free to take. Copyright protection arises automatically when an original work is fixed in a tangible medium of expression.

2. Materials that your company did not create are not yours. The law vests ownership of copyrights in the creators of original works unless they are works “made for hire.”

3. There is no “20%” (or “30-second”) fair use rule. There is no bright line rule defining how much of a work can be taken and still be fair use.

4. Check—and recheck—your licenses. Copyright licenses often specifically delineate where, when and how you may use a licensed work.

5. Webcasting recorded music may mean paying multiple license fees for multiple works/rights.

6. Ask for musical work performance licenses before broadcasting music. Musical work public performance licenses from ASCAP, BMI and SESAC are easy to obtain, but you need to ask.

7. You must file a notice with the Copyright Office in order to obtain a sound recording digital public performance license for Webcasting or other noninteractive digital performances.

8. “Interactive” and “noninteractive” performances are different. The statutory sound recording public performance license only covers non-interactive Webcasting services.

9. Have a DMCA [Digital Millennium Copyright Act] policy for all digital services.

10. Actually Implement the DMCA policy.