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Emily Bass

Emily Bass’s Answers

261 total


  • My sister wants to paint characters such as yoda & others to sell, would she get in trouble over copywrites?

    She was wanting to paint other characters like stewie from family guy. Shes not sure how the copyright thing works. Could you tell us if she needs to get permission or if shes ok to paint & sell them?

    Emily’s Answer

    I would echo the sentiments of my colleagues. If your sister does what she proposes to do, she is likely to end up being accused of copyright infringement. Unless she gets a license from the copyright holder, she would be creating an unauthorized "derivative work" of the original and that work would be infringing. Tell her not to do it.

    Disclaimer: This answer does not establish an attorney-client relationship. It is for general informational purposes only.

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  • How do I get out of a contract? Am I legally free to pursue book publication elsewhere?

    I signed a contract for a book. The contract says that if the book does not come out within 6 mo. that it is void. Six months was March 1st. This is a horrible publisher that does not return emails and avoids contact and is going under. There are...

    Emily’s Answer

    Most contracts, including publishing agreements, have a "choice of law" clause in them. That clause specifies what state's law applies. While it would not surprise me if the law of the state in which the Publisher is situated is the law that is specified, obviously an attorney needs to review the contract's actual terms.

    There is really no substitute for actually sitting down and meeting with an attorney - or using "GoToMeetins" or some other teleconferencing service - to review the relevant materials. Best of luck.

    Disclaimer: This answer is for general informational purposes only. It does not, of itself, establish an attorney-client relationship.

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  • I want to know if I can distribute my teachings online for free. They were sold by an organization that no longer sells them.

    Hi there -- I taught twice at a conference last year. My two teachings were recorded. The organization then sold the recordings online. They did so only for one week, and then decided to stop selling them, permanently. The recordings (mp3 down...

    Emily’s Answer

    My colleagues' responses are excellent. I write to note a couple of additional things.

    Copyright covers the expression of ideas as fixed in a particular medium of expression, not the underlying ideas themselves. So, you could prepare a new talk based upon the underlying ideas and record that talk yourself. You would then own the copyright in this new presentation and could post that as you please.

    It is also POSSIBLE that, if you prepared a written script for your original talk prior to presenting it, or a detailed outline or notes, you own the copyright in those writings. (Obviously, an attorney needs to review any agreement you had with the Conference presenters or the facts pertaining to your presentation to determine this for certain.) The Company presenting the Conference might only own the copyright in the work-as-recorded and not any preliminary writings. If that is so, you could post your outline or notes without infringing their copyright.

    Obviously, before actually posting anything or recording a new talk, you should consult an attorney to review all the pertinent facts. Best of luck.

    Disclaimer: This answer does not establish an attorney-client relationship or constitute legal advice. It is for general informational purposes only.

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  • How do I get out of a contract? Am I legally free to pursue book publication elsewhere?

    I signed a contract for a book. The contract says that if the book does not come out within 6 mo. that it is void. Six months was March 1st. This is a horrible publisher that does not return emails and avoids contact and is going under. There are...

    Emily’s Answer

    It is hard to tell, based upon your very brief description, whether you can claim that the publishing agreement is void and any and all rights have reverted to you or whether you might be said to have entered into a "novation." An attorney would need to see the actual publishing agreement and ALL correspondence (including emails) between you and the publisher (and/or an agent) before s/he could give you a definite opinion on the matter.

    I would recommend that you consult an attorney in your state because certain state-law contract principles and statutes might affect the determination. Good luck.

    Disclaimer: This answer does not establish an attorney-client relationship or constitute legal advice. It is for general informational purposes only.

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  • Would this break copyright laws?

    I am trying to make a website where people can upload songs, mix them together, record them, and save them on the site.

    Emily’s Answer

    If you intend to embark on a venture of the stature you're suggesting, don't you think you should spend the money necessary to have your plan vetted by experienced copyright counsel? You can't get the kind of detailed advice on this site that you need to ensure that you take all the appropriate steps.

    There is a very fine line between properly setting up a site in such a fashion as to enable it to legitimately claim immunity as an ISP for user-generated content and setting up a site that actively and improperly induces copyright infringement. A site that does the latter, in the view of many courts, is NOT entitled to ISP immunity, but is INDIRECTLY liable for copyright infringement. Put another way, it is not entitled either to statutory immunity or the Sony/Betamax defense.

    The line between liability and immunity is not only a fine one, but still evolving. That should give you serious pause: It should serve as an indicator that this is NOT a do-it-yourself project. Unless you want your enterprise to go the way of Napster or Kazaa and to face the kind of infringement liability my colleague Ms. Koslyn spoke of, you need to have copyright counsel with you every step of the way.

    Disclaimer: This answer does not establish an attorney-client relationship or constitute legal advice. It is for general informational purposes only.

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  • I Worked On A Movie Set and did not sign a nondisclosure agreement. Can I legally sell images I took with my camera?

    I worked on a major motion picture movie set a few years ago. I was not asked to sign a non didclosure agreement. Recently the movie was released and has become a huge box office hit. I was given permission to take camera still photos during filmi...

    Emily’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    You should retain a copyright attorney to review all of the facts before you sell, display, distribute or post any pictures. There is much, much more that needs to be known before an attorney could render an opinion on the matter.

    There are at least three different issues involved:

    Issue #1 Copyright: If the artwork that you are referring to was created by others and NOT you, then either they or the Company or production by whom they were employed or commissioned to create the work owns the copyright in the images. If you reproduce, distribute and/or sell photographic "copies" of that work, then you may be infringing their copyright. [You may have a distinct right to sell the "original" photograph you took - under the "first sale doctrine" - without making and selling additional copies. More information would need to be known before I would even go that far, however.]

    Issue # 2: Privacy Rights: The individuals in the photographs have the right under the laws of most states to prevent the use of their images for commercial purposes without their express written permission. So, even though it sounds as though you may own the copyrights in the photographs, you still may not be able to copy, post, distribute or sell the photographs without the written consent of those who appear in them.

    Issue #3: The film or production Company has undoubtedly created its own publicity campaign for the movie, complete with stills, trailers, advertising, etc. There is a possibility that it would view your release and sale of your photographs as interfering with its publicity campaign, casting the movie or its actors in a false light, and/or implying that your photos are officially associated with the movie or "sponsored" by the film Company.

    You need to review ALL of the facts surrounding the matter with competent IP counsel before taking any action. You might be able to obtain the consents or licenses you need to proceed, but you certainly can't proceed without them.

    Disclaimer: This answer does not establish an attorney-client relationship or constitute legal advice. It is for general informational purposes only.

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  • Do architects retain their copyright in works performed for public and private works in Texas?

    I'm wondering if architects keep the copyright to their works in Texas for either public or private works. If possible, I would really appreciate you pointing me to the applicable law. Thank you!

    Emily’s Answer

    It is difficult to answer your question because it is not clear to me what the facts are and what you are concerned about.

    But let me see whether I can give you some basic guidance:

    First of all, copyright is governed by federal law rather than state law. Indeed, equivalent state laws are preempted. In plain English, that means any state law that conflicts with federal law would be superseded or voided.

    Second, under federal law, IN GENERAL, the person who first creates a work holds the copyright in it. He or she or it cannot be divested of their copyright without their consent. They can, however, transfer or assign their rights (or some subset of their rights) or license one or more of the exclusive rights that make up their "copyright" for a discrete period of time or in a discrete geographic region.

    Where the individual who first creates a work does so "in the scope of his employment," GENERALLY, it is the entity that employs him or her who owns the copyright from the inception. In these instances, the employee is said to have created the work "for hire," and the employing entity is actually considered (from a legal standpoint) to be the work's legal "author" or "creator."

    So, someone who works as an architect for an architectural firm or company will generally not own the copyright in their own creations. The company will.

    By the same token, there are circumstances under which the person or Company that commissions a structure to be designed or built may require that the copyright in the design or structure be transferred or assigned to them. This is probably more often the case with public buildings than private ones, but could be the case in either. The transfer of copyright in these instances doesn't happen by operation of law, but by agreement.

    * * *

    They are two stages at which an architect might be concerned about the copyright in his or her works:

    The Design Stage: Copyright attaches automatically upon the creation of a work and its fixation in a tangible medium of expression. So, copyright attaches to design drawings, layouts and blueprints. The copyright in these works can be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office if the architect or firm so desires. However, copyright attaches to them whether or not they are "registered." Registration affords certain practical advantages.

    Post-Construction: While the architect or architecture firm holds a copyright in the design of a building, it is important to note that the copyright they hold is limited. The principal limitations on that right are set forth in section 120 of the 1976 Copyright Act of 1976. That section provides in principal part as follows:

    "The copyright in an architectural work that has been constructed does not include the right to prevent the making, distributing, or public display of pictures, paintings, photographs, or other pictorial representations of the work, IF THE BUILDING IN WHICH THE WORK IS EMBODIED IS LOCATED IN OR ORDINARILY VISIBLE FROM A PUBLIC PLACE."

    17 U.S.C. 120 (a) (emphasis added).

    So, even if you hold the copyright in an architectural design, you may not be able to prevent a member of the public from taking, posting or distributing a photo of the building, etc. You also cannot prevent the owner of the building from making alterations to it or destroying or authorizing the destruction of the building. 17 U.S.C. 120 (b).

    I hope this has been a useful overview.

    Disclaimer; This answer does not establish an attorney-client relationship or constitute legal advice. It is for general informational purposes only.

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  • What does the "designation of fmla" letter mean? The bottom is checked that I have exhausted my fmla. Does this mean I'm fired?

    Or laid off? Can I collect unemployment?

    Emily’s Answer

    Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, eligible employees of employers covered by the Act have the right to take up to twelve weeks of approved family and/or medical leave during a twelve month period. (The leave may be paid, unpaid or a combination.) So long as you return from approved FMLA leave PRIOR TO the expiration of your entitlement, you have a statutory right to be reinstated to the same or a similar position to the position you occupied prior to the leave's commencement.

    However, if you remain out beyond the expiration of your leave, the Employer MIGHT NOT have a statutory duty to reinstate you. That doesn't mean you are automatically fired or that you might not have a right to reinstatement under the Americans with Disabilities Act or some other Act or state law. The Employer also might have an obligation to reinstate you if failed to give you one or more "notifications" it was required to give you under the FMLA.

    You should consult an employment attorney in your state to ascertain your specific rights in the circumstances.

    Disclaimer: This answer does not establish an attorney-client relationship or constitute legal advice. It is for general informational purposes only.

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  • What constitues a legal contract for photos of an individual in New York? if a photographer takes photos in a private place, and

    no waiver for the photos is signed, and they are of personal and private nature can the photographer post these photos on her website without specific permission to do so?

    Emily’s Answer

    It is not clear to me from your question whether you are the photographer or the person who was photographed.

    In either event, the answer as to whether "the photographer" can post the photos on his or her web site without express written permission from the subject of the photographs depends upon a complete examination of the facts. It sounds to me as though the subject of the photos just MIGHT have a legitimate right to stop the photographer from posting/displaying/distributing the photos absent the subject's written agreement. Proceeding without that agreement MIGHT violate the Civil Rights Law of the State of New York, which affords living citizens certain privacy and publicity rights. But many more facts need to be known.

    Disclaimer: This answer does not establish an attorney-client relationship or constitute legal advice. It is for general informational purposes only.

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  • I want to translate into Spanish articles from US based websites and publish them in my website.

    I am starting a website, initially non profit, to share training material. Part of the articles will be written by our staff, part will be blog based by the website users. A third part will be translation of articles from US based websites and...

    Emily’s Answer

    You should really consult a copyright attorney because you will need a series of permissions. More specifically, you will need written licenses permitting you to translate each work you are interested in translating, and to reproduce, display and distribute your translations electronically. Moreover, you will need to get these permissions from the person(s) or compan(ies) that own the copyright(s) in the works you are going to be translating and, in some instances, that may not be the same person or company as the person or company on whose web site(s) the underlying works are posted.

    If you translate works that are subject to copyright protection without the copyright owner's permission, you will be infringing that owner's rights. If you proceed to post your translations and let others access and/or download them, you will be infringing the owner's rights multiple times.

    They may well agree to license you the rights you need for a modest fee, so you shouldn't assume your won't get permission. You cannot proceed without permission, however.

    Disclaimer: This answer does not establish an attorney-client relationship or constitute legal advice. It is for general informational purposes.

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