3 Count: Professor Copyright

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1: Wedding Photo Damages for Madonna

First off today, Madonna has scored a big win in one of the most bizarre copyright cases recently. She sued The Mail, a UK newspaper, after they published photographs from her wedding allegedly obtained by a former interior designer of hers who used the access to her house to make copies of some of her wedding album photos.

The wedding had been an extremely private affair, with no previously published images. The photos in The Mail were published a few days after the couple had filed for divorce.

The case raised an interesting copyright question as, usually, the photographer is the copyright holder, not the subject. However, it appears the photos were taken by a close friend of the couple who assigned all rights to them.

Madonna has agreed to give a significant portion of the undisclosed damages to her Malawi charity.

2: Guns N’ Roses Sued for Copyright Infringement

Electronic musician Ulrich Schnauss has filed suit against the band Guns N’ Roses claiming that the band sampled two of his songs. He is demanding $1 million in damages and for the “Chinese Democracy” album to be pulled from the shelves.

According to attorneys, Guns N’ Roses track “Riad N’ the Bedouins” samples both Shnauss’ 2001 “Wherever You Are” and 2003 “A Strangely Isolated Place”.

Schnauss, though popular in Germany, is lesser-known in the U.S. and is a stark contrast to GNR, with moodier music and lyrics.

The case is ongoing.

3: A Harvard Skirmish in the Copyright Wars

Finally today, copyright seems to turn up in the strangest places these days but this is one even I didn’t expect, a college notebook.

Andrew Magliozzi, a Harvard student and son of Car Talk host Ray Magliozzi, started up a not-for-profit site where students post notes from their lectures for others to review. However, he’s been notified by Harvard lawyers that his site might run afoul of copyright law as professor’s have copyright in their lectures so long as they were first fixed into a tangible medium and the notes may be a copyright violation. No one, however, has threatened or sued him.

It’s an interesting area of the law and the article above highlights some of the conflicting ways that schools have handled this issue. Some have encouraged professors to grant an explicit “note taking” license while others, such as Harvard, have used it was a tool to close up access to their classes.

It is an interesting article on a difficult topic. Clearly though, this is an area where legal solutions alone are not going to work.


That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.

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