Loren Donald Pearson

Loren Donald Pearson is a Registered Patent Attorney and a Florida Bar Board Certified Intellectual Property Attorney.  He is a partner at Assouline & Berlowe, PA and leads its intellectual property group.  Read his profile

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Entries in copyright (2)


Village People Singer Wins Battle to Terminate Label's Copyright

Village People singer, Victor Willis, won a judgement from a California Court dismissing his record label's request to prevent him from terminating the label's rights to the music that he wrote.

The termination of a copyright transfer under Section 203 went into effect in 1978.  However, because the provision requires 35 years from the transfer, only the first works are becoming eligible.

As the New York Times reports:

The termination rights provision was included in a revision of copyright law that went into effect in 1978, meaning that recording artists and songwriters can in 2013 begin to regain ownership of work whose control they signed away early in their careers, when they had little bargaining power. As a result, artists like Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, the Eagles and other big names from the 1970s will soon be eligible to reclaim ownership of recordings that have sold millions of copies and made millions of dollars for song publishers and the four major record companies. Sales of recorded music have dropped by more than half since 2000.

To terminate a transferee's copyrights, specific notice provisions must be followed.


Tyson's Tattoo Artist Settles Copyright Lawsuit over Hangover 2

The tattoo artist who created Mike Tyson's face tattoo has settled his lawsuit with Warner Bros. over the Hangover 2.

The tattoo artist, S. Victor Whitmill, had gone to Federal District Court in St. Louis in April to argue that Warner Brothers had failed to get his permission to use his design for a face tattoo, created in 2003 for the boxer Mike Tyson, on one of the central characters in the movie.  Mr. Whitmill’s suit sought to stop the release of the movie over the Memorial Day weekend because of what it called “reckless copyright infringement.”

The court denied the injunction.  The movie was released.  And on June 21, a settlement for an undisclosed amount was reached.

Interesting, in the complaint, Whitmill did not request statutory damages, which can be as high as $150,000 in the case of willful infringement.  Statutory damages can be awarded even when the actual damages might be nominal (i.e. the cost of a tattoo).  See 17 USC 504(c).

Statutory damages are only available in the United States for works that were registered with the Copyright Office prior to infringement, or within three months of publication.  See 17 USC 412.
So, if you have created a work, you should register your copyright immediately to guarantee access to statutory damages.