A 2001 letter from an attorney representing the heirs of Superman co-creator Jerome Siegel effectively transferred all copyrights in the Superman character to DC Comics, the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco has decided (Larson v. Warner Bros Entertainment, February 10, 2016, per curiam). Siegel’s daughter, Laura Siegel Larson, could not go forward with…

A copyright claim brought by hip-hop artist Tyrone Simmons—who purchased an exclusive license to use a beat known as the “I Get Money Instrumental”—against the beat’s creator (William Stanberry, Jr.) and a group of defendants associated with rapper Curtis Jackson, known professionally as “50 Cent,” who used the beat in a hit song, was time-barred…

Recordings used by defendants Activision Blizzard, Inc., and Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. (collectively, Blizzard) of a former employee’s voice for a character in a video game constituted a “work made for hire” under the Copyright Act, according to the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco (Lewis v. Activision Blizzard, Inc., December 18, 2015, per curiam)….

The assignee of the rights to a screenplay by actress and author Emma Thompson about the life of historical figure Euphemia Gray (Effie Film, LLC) should not have been granted an award of nearly $500,000 in attorney fees and costs that it incurred in successfully seeking a declaratory judgment that its screenplay did not infringe…

The Batmobile, as it appeared in the Batman comic books, television series, and motion picture, was entitled to copyright protection because, as an “automotive character,” it was a sufficiently distinctive element of those works, the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco has held (DC Comics v. Towle, September 23, 2015, Ikuta, S.). The Ninth…

Robert Snow, author of the 2012 book Slaughter on North LaSalle, did not infringe Carol Sissom’s copyright in her 2006 book The LaSalle Street Murders, because none of the material that Sissom alleged was taken from her book was protectable material under the Copyright Act, but merely restated historical events, the U.S. Court of Appeals…

The bizarre saga known as Garcia v. Google has finally come to end with an eleven judge en banc decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Garcia v. Google, Inc., 786 F.3d 733 (9th Cir. 2015)). That holding came in response to a remarkable, if not astonishing holding by a…

On June 4th, the US Copyright Office published a report on Orphan Works and Mass Digitization. The report addresses two situations where the current US copyright system may not fulfill its aim to “promote the Progress of Science”: orphan works and mass-digitization. As regards orphan works, the Office notes that a user’s ability to seek…

A former draftsman for an architectural design firm who resigned while working on a project for one of the firm’s clients, a builder, did not infringe the firm’s copyrights in home plans that the draftsman drew while working for the firm and then used to complete the project for the builder, the U.S. Court of…

An actress in the controversial anti-Islamic film Innocence of Muslims lacked a copyright interest in her performance in the film and was not entitled to a preliminary injunction against the film’s display on YouTube, the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco has held in an en banc opinion (Garcia v. Google, Inc., May 18,…