Friday, October 5, 2012

A checklist of 5 things creators could do at the beginning of each month

I like to set various habits at the beginning of the month to get myself in the practice of checking things that bear checking on a fairly frequent basis. If you're a creator, especially an author, here's 5 things that might help you in your work as well as in protecting your work.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Look and feel of your apps and games: two important cases on copycat apps

What's so special about Angry Birds or Tetris that makes them so lucrative? Why can't someone just create their own versions of these games? Or can they? Two recent judgments on copycat games shed some light on a fast-breaking area of the law that's important for developers to understand.

Video games are almost unique among copyrightable materials because they can be simultaneously protected under copyright law in multiple ways: the source code in which they are written is protected by literary copyright, and the look and feel are a protected audiovisual work. But there's another interesting issue about video games, which is that they simultaneously have creative and functional content: the art and music vs. the rules that make the game work. This matters: creative content can be copyrighted, but functional content can't.

At least that used to be the case.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Three reasons the ex-Register of Copyrights doesn't like change (and one reason he's wrong)

"[Aereo] appears to have been designed by a copyright lawyer peering over the shoulder of an engineer to exploit what appeared to Aereo to be a loophole in the law and shoehorn the Aereo business model into the Cablevision decision"
Designed by a copyright lawyer... He says that like it's bad!

Okay, maybe I'm kidding. And some background may be helpful.

Ralph Oman, the retired Register of Copyrights (the person who runs the office that handles copyright registrations), has filed a brief in the ongoing Aereo litigation. Aereo, as you may know, is a service that uses thousands of little antennas to capture over-the-air TV broadcasts and stream them. One stream per subscriber. Why not have one big antenna? Well, that takes some explaining too.