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Mad Art Cast: How Not to Get Ripped Off As An Artist

This episode is a very informative one for artists of all types, particularly those who make art that is posted on the internet. Joining us this week is special guest Emily Sexton. Emily is a blogger at Grounded Parents and a DC based entertainment lawyer and she has a lot of valuable information on copyrights, trademarks and when you should try to protect your work and when you should set it free.

Creative Commons. Use it. Love it.

Emily’s Twitter page

Pixsy scours the internet for your photography and alerts you if it’s found so you can take appropriate action.

Lumen Database and Art Law Journal are two good resources for anyone interested in protecting their copyright.

As will happen in live recording, Emily misremembered one fact she mentioned on the podcast. Here’s what she has to say about it:

A quick check on a couple of things confirmed that I actually got the ultimate holding — and the primary consideration of the Supreme Court — wrong in the 2 Live Crew “Pretty Woman” case. The Circuit court held that because of the commercial nature of the parody, the commercial aspect meant that it could not be fair use. The Supreme Court disagreed and sent the case back to the lower court and the parties settled. A good description of what was actually at issue in the case is here.

And here is a good overview of fair use and the four factors, which I don’t think I described clearly enough:

There have been cases where courts have held that a parody must be commenting on the original work, not more broad social issues or even just using a prior work as a basis for humor, but virtually all of these cases actually predate the 1994 Pretty Woman decision. Suffice it to say, the close to 20 years since my Copyright class with Arthur Miller (sadly, not the playwright) is dating some of my own thought on this issue.


Ashley Hamer

Ashley Hamer (aka Smashley) is a saxophonist and writer living in Chicago, where she performs regularly with the funk band FuzZz and jazz ensemble Big Band Boom. She also does standup comedy, sort of, sometimes. Her tenor saxophone's name is Ladybird.

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