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CopyrightCodex | Digital Copyright Treatise

Copyright Codex answers questions like “Can I copyright this software?” and “will my newsoftware infringe on someone’s existing copyright?” and “how much copying does fair useallow?” Here’s a few examples of copyright law applied to software, art, and literature.

Sorry for Partying: Fair Use

“Sorry for Partying” shirt is fair use, according to the Seventh Circuit. “While a student at the University of Wisconsin in 1969, Paul Soglin attended the first Mifflin Street Block Party, whose theme was ‘taking a sharp stick and poking it in the eye of authority.’ Now in his seventh term as Mayor of Madison, Wisconsin, Soglin does not appreciate being on the pointy end.” But Soglin couldn’t shut down the party with a copyright infringement lawsuit: “The photograph was posterized, the background was removed, and Soglin’s face was turned lime green and surrounded by multi-colored writing…. almost none of the copyrighted work remained.” Kienitz v. Sconnie Nation LLC, (7th Cir. Sept. 14, 2014). Professor Rebecca Tushnet likes the result, but critiques the Court’s analysis.

Appropriation Art: Not Fair Use in Rogers v. Koons

The Jeff Koons sculpture (right) infringed the original Art Rogers photo (left) because the  Koons sculpture had a commercial purpose (selling for $376,000), copied from an artistic (rather than factual) source, and Koons copied nearly every detail of the original. But the real gist of Koons’ fair use argument was that his sculpture was satire, and criticized societies’ fascination with mass-produced commodities. The Judge disagreed, deciding that copying an artists’ work to criticize society at large was not fair use —to be fair use the copy must criticize the original work. Rogers v. Koons (2d Cir. 1992).

Compare this to Cariou v. Prince below.

Appropriation Art: Fair Use in Cariou v. Prince

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We build blogsites for schools.

Useful website giving lots of real life examples of the law of copyright in action.

This is a really great site using visuals to express whether a use was considered fair or not #copyright HT @LucJodet

Here’s a few examples of copyright law applied to software, art, and literature.


I'm that simfin and I'm @simfin on Twitter. You can see the stuff I do on my wordpress site. Here to help.