Intellectual Property Law

New Matter SPRING 2021, Volume 46, Number 1

Letter from the Editor-in-Chief

Thomas A. Ward

Editor-in-Chief of New Matter

Welcome to the spring edition of New Matter for 2021. The cover art for this issue is intended to portray a number of intellectual property issues, although at first glance it may be a little confusing. For the labor law section members, you might spot some labor code violations and wonder why the picture is on an intellectual property magazine? Or for those civil rights lawyers, you might have spotted Bernie Sanders and wonder why a political meme would be on an intellectual property magazine? The cover actually presents intellectual property issues about the use of memes as copyrighted works. Some of the copyright issues addressed are as follows:

A copyright owner is the only party with the legal right to create a derivative work, and an internet meme like the one shown on the cover is a derivative work. However, the rights of the copyright owner are not absolute. If the person who generates the derivative work makes "fair use" of the copyrighted work, then this is a defense to a claim of copyright infringement. In this case, the political cartoon is arguably satirical and therefore a fair use exception may be applicable. Further, since the original photograph is obviously from the 1920s or 1930s, whether the work falls in the public domain might be an issue. However, the recent photo of Bernie Sanders combined into the older photo might remove the photo from the public domain.

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