Ledger Vol. 1 – No. 1 (Winter 2009)

Foreign Formats – Licensing Optional?: Why ABC’s “Bombshell” Memo regarding Foreign Formats Isn’t Scandalous at All

On June 24, 2008, ABC Executive Vice President Howard Davine wrote a memo to ABC’s executive producers and show-runners which suggested that there may be no need to license a foreign television show when all that is being taken from the show is the “underlying premise.”Alexandra Schwartz argues that there is, in fact, no difference between the decisions to license a U.S. format and a foreign format. While Mr. Davine’s memo may be provocative, Schwartz concludes that it reaches a sensible legal solution. Simply put, show-runners and executive producers need not contract and pay for every concept they produce as a result of seeing or hearing about a foreign TV show, movie, or book.

Girl Talk, Fair Use, and Three Hundred Twenty-Two Reasons for Copyright Reform

The music of the artist known as Girl Talk consists of hundreds of pre-existing samples taken without permission from popular songs. As Girl Talk becomes more prominent, lawyers, journalists and bloggers have entered the debate regarding whether the use of pre-existing samples from copyrighted works is a “fair use” as defined in the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976.Brian Pearl analyzes the merits of the “fair use” argument in light of sparse and largely unsympathetic case law regarding music sampling and ultimately concludes that Girl Talk’s use of pre-existing samples fails to qualify as a “fair use.” The Article further proposes an amendment to the Copyright Act that would enable Girl Talk to record legally while fairly compensating the owners of the sampled works.

Elite Knockoffs and Nascent Designers

The current debate over increased protection for fashion design is largely focused on whether additional protection is necessary or if it is actually counter-productive for the industry. The proper contrast is between protection of authorship versus protection of reputation. David Faux argues that, while elite design houses enjoy some tools for protecting their reputations, beginning designers need legislation that will enable them to enforce rights based on notions of authorship.

Mixed Signals: Takedown but Don’t Filter? A Case for Constructive Authorization

Scribd, a social publishing website, is being sued for copyright infringement for allowing the uploading of infringing works, and also for using the works themselves to filter for copyrighted work upon receipt of a takedown notice. While Scribd has a possible fair use defense, given the transformative function of the filtering use, Victoria Elman and Cindy Abramson argue that such filtration systems ought not to constitute infringement, as long as the sole purpose is to prevent infringement.