Stop! Collaborate and Listen – Copyrights

May 02, 2023

One of the more famous legal cases occurred when David Bowie and Queen sued Vanilla Ice for copyright infringement.  They said that Ice used notes from their Under Pressure song in his Ice Ice Baby song.  In defending himself, Ice said he added an extra beat…..literally.  The two sides ultimately settled, but this is a classic copyright infringement case.  Check out the articles below for some other examples:

Essentially, copyrights protect creators of original content from unauthorized use or duplication.  Copyrighted items can include music, photos, writings, software and architecture.  A work or creation is considered original if the author created it from independent thinking.  A copyright is protected as soon as its attached to a tangible medium (e.g., written on a piece of paper, recorded on an audiotape or videotape, stored on a flash drive or in the cloud).

The easiest way to notify others of copyright protection is to register the work with the US Copyright Office.  The time for approval can take approximately a year depending on whether you submit the application electronically or by hard copy.

Once approved, the original copyright owners are protected by copyright laws the rest of their lives and 70 years after their death.  If the owner is an entity like a corporation, then the protection period is 95 years from the date of publication or 120 years after creation, whichever expires first.  FYI, these timeframes were updated in 1998 (prior version was the Copyright Act of 1976) pursuant to the passage of the Sonny Bono Act or Mickey Mouse Protection Act.

If you think you have a work worthy of being copyrighted, I suggest you engage an experienced intellectual property attorney to help you navigate the process.  Next week, we will review patents.

Here are some other items of interest:

As always, please don’t hesitate to email myself (, Andy Miller (, Christian Miller (, Erik Spurlin (, Brad Leber ( or anyone in our office with questions or comments.  

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