Meeting held on September 18, 2007 at the University of Washington Ethnic Cultural Theater, Seattle, WA.
Toussaint Myricks (left), Kevin Jablonski (right), AES PNW Chair Rick Chinn (seated on stage)
The PNW Section met September 18, 2007, to hear about legal aspects of intellectual property (IP) from an audio perspective. The speakers were Kevin Jablonski and Toussaint Myricks, of the Axios Law Group in Seattle. About 26 attendees (including 12 AES members) met at the University of Washington Ethnic Cultural Theater in Seattle.
New PNW Chair Rick Chinn opened with Section announcements and introductions from attendees before introducing the guest speakers.
Kevin D. Jablonski earned the BSEE (Gonzaga), JD (Seattle Univ.), and Audio Production (Art Institute of Seattle) degrees, and his practice involves aspects of intellectual property law such as patent procurement, copyrights, and trademarks. He is also a member of the Recording Academy: Engineer's and Producers Wing, and the Audio Engineering Society, and plays drums in an 11-piece soul band.
Toussaint Myricks received the SBEE (MIT), MSEE (Univ. of Wash.), Master of IP and JD (Franklin Pierce Law Center) degrees, and concentrates his law practice on patent, trademark, software copyright, trade secret and related licensing matters.
The presenters traded off during the presentation, with Kevin starting off giving an overview of intellectual property concepts, such as patents and copyrights, and Toussaint explaining trademarks, and trade secrets. Kevin also cited the right to publicity, such as using someone's likeness for an endorsement. Any or all of these might be useful to protect one's IP rights.
Kevin then went into more detail on what patents are all about - any new, useful, non-obvious invention might be patentable, and he discussed how this is interpreted legally. He also spoke of design vs. utility patents, the interesting patents on plant life, worldwide patenting and length of rights.
Toussaint continued with details about the nuts and bolts of obtaining patents, including first inventor concepts and maintenance fees, then Kevin continued with some caveats and cautions about patenting. A U.S. patent might cost $20-30,000 to complete. He noted that governments can't hold a patent or copyright, therefore such things as NASA photos are public domain. He also noted that the estimated cost of copyright IP theft from Russia and China is about equal to the U.S. trade deficit.
Toussaint then began discussion on copyright, which is granted on the expression of an idea. He covered what a copyright is, rights conveyed by copyright, infringement of copyright, remedies for copyright infringement, and Fair Use exceptions. The audience fielded several questions.
After a short refreshment break, door prizes were won by Jasha Droppo (a copy of the AES Nashville test CD) and Dan Mortensen (a copy of the book, "The Audio Dictionary").
Toussaint continued with more details on copyrights, such as the need to fix it in a tangible form, the advantages of registering, and the duration (depends on corporate ownership or personal ownership). The audience finally got a chance to see some "fine print" on slides showing the rights conferred by a copyright, and the monetary remedies for infringement. The discussion of "Fair Use" brought several questions on satirical use, and copying of music scores and books.
Kevin further discussed Fair Use with the landmark 1984 Sony vs. Universal Studios "Betamax case," where it was decided that it was legal for a user to videotape television shows for time shifting (later viewing). Device manufacturers cannot be held liable for what the users did with the equipment. This was contrasted to the more recent audio file sharing Napster case - which was held to be different from the Sony case, mainly because Napster had much control over users and files. They were forced to stop this method of operation. The later Grokster file sharing case resulted in a decision that Grokster was a clear expression to foster infringement, even though they had less control and didn't store any files. They were also forced to stop.
Recent Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) actions were discussed. RIAA sent letters to people they had determined had illegally downloaded files, suggesting to settle for sums such as $3,000. In one such instance where a client received one of these letters, Kevin suggested they take the offer, as he felt they could be liable for $150,000 for each infringement. Was it worth the risk of finding this out in court?
He continued with information on the controversial U.S. Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998. While he noted it did have its strengths, there were also many criticisms.
Finally, several questions and answers were fielded. We also learned why something is labeled, "©2007, All Rights Reserved." It seems that the ©2007 works for the U.S., while some other countries need the "All Rights Reserved" to protect the rights.
Several attendees noted that a follow-up meeting would be well received.
Reported by Gary Louie, AES PNW Section Secretary with Rick Chinn, AES PNW Section Chair
The Presenter's powerpoint deck.
Meeting audio, MP3, part 1 (15.2MB)
Meeting audio, MP3, part 2 (21.5MB)
Last modified 10/24/2007.