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  "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing"
Edmund Burke

© Copyright Law & Definitions ©

To understand the law, one must understand how the courts function. Court decisions revolve around precedent, that is, those decisions that have come before determine how the court will rule on an issue today. When you read a court decision you will see many references to past court cases as a basis for the statements and opinions being made. More more complicated the court case the more other cases that will be cited. Court are loathe to reverse a long-standing decision. To do so would create an instability in the law and the application of the law.

Federal law is applied a little unevenly across the many federal circuits with the 9th Circuit being the most liberal and unpredictable. But Supreme Court decisions are expected to be followed in all circuits. Many facets of the law are applied based upon Supreme Court decisions that are over a hundred years old. The courts simply do not revisit established law without extraordinary reasons.

Some people who disagree with the content of these pages argue that there are no recent court decisions concerning some of the basic aspects of cited copyright law. Once a principle has been clearly established by the Supreme Court and without a material change in the statutes, courts will continue to follow the ruling even if it is from a hundred years ago.

Copyright law is being misinterpreted by a lot of people; accidentally by some and deliberately by others. It isn't as fuzzy an area as trademark law.

There are a lot of on-line sales sites that are infringing upon trademarks and copyrights. Many sites openly sell "replicas", which by definition are infringing. We do not endorse infringement. These pages are designed as a reference for those who are not infringing or those who are not sure that they are. There is an increasing number of companies and corporate lawyers who are trying to exploit unknowing and unwilling infringers. Beware.

The first major error is those who believe that if they write it, or photograph it, it is automatically theirs and no one else can use it. There are some really big flaws in this approach:

  1. To be eligible for copyright, the work must be original and creative. There's nothing creative about an auction listing or directions to the local grocery store.
  2. Someone commented they should take a picture of their house so no one else could. Wrong. We could stand in almost the same spot and take almost the same picture and your "copyright" would not stop our use of our picture. It is the picture itself that is afforded protection; not the subject of the picture.
  3. To get statutory damages, a copyright MUST be registered with the copyright office BEFORE the alleged infringement.
  4. Fair use allows others to use their work for non-commercial, educational use and commentary (such as this web site).
  5. Many things cannot be copyrighted

There are a lot of people who think copyright gives them something more than they actually get. A lot of these people are designers and artists who want to believe they are getting more from copyright than they are really getting. Copyright protection is not as complicated as people think provided you look at from the legal perspective rather than from the personal desire perspective.

We do not agree with all of the opinions or conclusions stated in all of the following articles referenced in the following categories. We have attempted to present different sides of the arguments as we have found them. We only present information we consider to be well argued and factually supported. We do not take credit for the information presented. The great majority of it is gleaned from other sources. In many cases we credit the originator.

Areas of Copyright Law & Definitions

  • Angel Policies, and Cottage Licenses are a figment of the imagination. They were dreamed up by designers and companies who want you to buy additional copies of their patterns, rubber stamps, etc. There is no basis in statutory law for these so-called licenses.

  • Contributory Infringement, helping someone else infringe. Sometimes this is unknowingly done but it still can have consequences. Contributory infringement is actionable just like regular copyright infringement.

  • Copyrightability, a look at what can be copyrighted and what cannot be copyrighted. A lot of people believe something is copyrightable because it was their idea or because they wrote it.

  • Copyright Extortion, a modern extortion scheme being used by unethical corporate lawyers and opportunists.

  • Copyright Misuse Doctrine. an evolving defense to copyright infringement because of overreaching licensing by copyright owners.

  • Derivative, what it is and what it is not. It is an allegation often used by corporate lawyers when claiming infringement.

  • DMCA Takedown Notices -Requirements and Risks, posting by Christopher Barnett about the Digitial Millennium Copyright Act.

  • EULA, End User Licensing Agreement and what it really is and how software companies are abusing the rights of the consumer. These "shrinkwrap licenses" are being held as invalid by court after court but that does not stop the software companies from attempting to enforce them.

  • Fair Use. It is defined in copyright law as a valid defense to copyright infringement. However, the copyright owner rarely considers fair use valid.

  • Food Chain Barbie, Mattel loses again over Barbie in this First Amendment case versus copyright infringement. Mattell loses a lot of Barbie cases.

  • First Sale Doctrine which limits the copyright holder's ability to control subsequent use and sale of the copy. Like fair use, the first sale doctrine is dismmised by the copyright owner as not existing.

  • 512(F) of the DMCA and potential damages from false claims. Unfortunately, few abusers are ever punished.

  • Idea-Expression Dichotomy, The Copyright Act expressly sets forth that copyright protection does not extend to "any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery." This rule, the idea-expression dichotomy, means that ideas, as opposed to expression, are not copyrightable.

  • Licensed Fabric: what you can and cannot do with it. "Licensed" fabric does not mean the fabric is licensed to the purchaser but rather that the copyright/trademark owner has licensed someone to print the fabric with the protected images on it.

  • Misconceptions about copyrights, how they begin and how they are spread.

  • Parody: Fair Use or Copyright Infringement, 1999 article by Lloyd L. Rich.

  • Parody vs Satire Analysis, in PDF format, from May 2006, American Bar Association paper by Juli Wilson Marshall.

  • Ordinary Observer test, also called the "reasonable person test", as defined by federal court for determining infringement.

  • Patterns and how copyright law actually applies to them. Generally, patterns are not copyrightable.

  • Quilting and how copyright law actually applies to them.

  • Registration of a copyright and what it does.

  • Registration Denied of a copyright and what it means to the author of the work.

  • Registration Proof as defined by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

  • Statutory Liability comments from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

  • What is a Copyright?

  • What is not Copyrightable? according to the US Copyright Office

  • Willful Infringement and how courts define it and apply it.

Articles | Cease and Desist Letters | Federal Court Cases | FAQs & Whines | Glossary | Hall Of Shame | Contributions

Corporate Lawyers
Cartoons | Code Of Ethics | Courtroom Remarks | Definition Of A Lie | Jokes | Lawyers | Lying | Who Have Lied

eBay - Land The Game


Trademark Definitions
Blurring   |   Confusion   |   Damages   |   Dilution   |   History   |   Initial Interest Confusion   |   Likelihood Of Confusion   |   Material Difference Standard
Parallel Imports   |   Post-sale Confusion   |   Puffery   |   Secondary Meaning   |   Subsequent Confusion   |   Trademark Abuse
Unauthorized Use   |   Unfair Competition   |   What is a Trademark?
Copyright Definitions
Angel Policies   |   Contributory Infringement   |   Copyrightability   |   Copyright Extortion   |   Copyright Misuse Doctrine
Derivative   |   The Digital Millennium Copyright Act   |   EULA   |   Fair Use   |   First Sale Doctrine   |   Product Description
Registration   |   Registration Denied   |   What is a Copyright?   |   What is not Copyrightable?
Other Issues
Embroidery Designs   |   FAQs & Whines   |   Image and Text Theft   |   Licensed Fabric   |   Licensing & Licenses   |   Patterns
Patterns Index   |   Profit   |   Quilting   |   Selvage   |   Stanford School of Law Case Outline
Tabberone Disclaimer   |   Trademark Extortion   |   Urban Myths   |   What To Do If You Are Veroed

Federal Court Cases
Alphabetically | by Federal Circuit | by Subject | by Court Quotations

Federal Statutes
Copyright Act 17 U.S.C. 5 | Digital Millenium Copyright Act 17 U.S.C. 12 | Lanham Act 15 U.S.C. 22

VeRO (Verified Right's Owner Program)
VeRO Commandments | VeRO-Verified Rights Owners Program | Counter Notice Letter
Counter Notice (pre-2003) | Counter Notice present | On-Line Survey from 2004 | Articles about VeRO | What To Do If You Are Veroed

Original material by Karen Dudnikov & Michael Meadors is © 1999-2019

A Cup Of Joe For A Joe
by Green Beans Coffee Company
Karen and Mike, also known to you as Tabberone, have been actively participating in various troop support programs for a number of years. An important one we have discovered and supported is one run by the Green Beans Coffee Company of Larkspur, California. The Green Beans Coffee Company runs coffee houses in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Middle East and at other US military bases around the world. Your donations are converted into email chits that are randomly given to military personal who are based near these coffee houses. You are then sent an email by Green Beans Coffee telling at what location your donation(s) was distributed. The military recipient of your donation is also given the opportunity to email you a thank you with a message, which many of them do.

Modern military deployment has changed very much since WWII, Korea and Vietnam. Back then there was no internet or cell phones. A soldier very rarely could call home or even go home on leave. But modern deployment does not alter the dangers they face. Green Beans Coffee is one of the little pleasures they can enjoy. Any donation makes a service man or service woman smile. We contribute every month.

More information is available at
We rarely link to other sites. It is a really good cause.



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