On November 16, 2017, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights officially launched Creative Control, its community outreach initiative designed to provide grassroots intellectual property education and pro bono legal advice to underserved and marginalized communities. The Creative Control Official Launch was hosted at Red Rocks H Street Bistro in Washington D.C., following the advance “soft launch” this past summer, and IIPSJ was once again privileged to partner in this unique and essential service to the public which provides critical assistance to creators and innovators who might not otherwise obtain vital IP information, guidance, and legal advice.


Copyright in the Community: From Fair Use to Creative Control

This month we’d like to discuss some updates in the area of fair use and also invite you to the official launch of Creative Control, the IP community education and pro bono advice initiative.

What is Fair Use?
Fair use is a legal doctrine within the copyright law that allows the public to use copyrighted works and material without the permission of the copyright owner. The fundamental social purpose of copyright protection is to promote the progress of the arts and sciences: to advance American learning and culture by encouraging authors and other creators to share their works with the public. Consequently, copyright reserves to authors only certain specific uses of their works, such as making a copy, while all other uses, such as reading a book aloud as a bed-time story, are freely available to the public. In addition, fair use allows the public to also engage in the authors’ reserved uses, typically referred to as the authors’ exclusive rights, when allowing the activity promotes the social purpose of copyright.


Over the summer, you likely noticed an increase in webpages and social media posts on Net Neutrality.  And when you visited various webpages on July 12 you may have seen ads supporting the Internet wide day of action to save net neutrality.


This month we thought it might be informative to spotlight IP social justice legal issues and developments arising in other countries.  We have provided links below to various relevant articles, which we hope you'll find of interest.

Matal v. Tam

On Monday, June 19, 2017, the Supreme Court held that the law prohibiting the federal registration of disparaging trademarks, part of Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, was unconstitutional as viewpoint discrimination prohibited by the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech. Matal v. Tam, https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/slipopinion/16 The Court ruled 8-0 on the result and 8-0 on the theory of viewpoint discrimination, but split on a number of other issues considered by the Court.  The social justice implications of this decision fall along several lines.

We thought the following might be of interest to you:


1)  IISPJ’s Director, Lateef Mtima, is a guest on the recent edition of the CopyThis podcast hosted by Kirby Ferguson and presented by the Re:Create Coalition.  You can find the podcast along with a full description here on the Re:Create Coalition website.  A portion of the description is reproduced below.

Copy This Podcast Episode 5: Copyright Drives the Beat of Social Justice

“…While many may think about copyright law in terms of music, books and movies and how to access them, Lateef Mtima, Professor of Law at the Howard University School of Law and Founder and Director of The Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice, points to the Constitution to remind listeners that copyright’s “most important function is to provide people with knowledge, to educate themselves… to share ideas and information.”…

From the Black Lives Matter movement, to the high profile “Blurred Lines” case that has pitted Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams against Marvin Gaye’s estate, and even led to varying opinions across the full spectrum of the copyright community, Lateef helps bring to light copyright discussions that are playing out in communities and the courts in real time today so be sure to tune in.”



Copyright Office Comments & Race + IP Summit

The U.S. Copyright Office requested comments on the impact and effectiveness of the DMCA Safe Harbor provisions in 17 USC 512.  Comments submitted by Professors Lateef Mtima and Steven D. Jamar, on behalf of IIPSJ and several other organizations, can be found here.  The comments are categorized into the following themes:
- Characteristics of the Current Internet Ecosystem;
- Operation of the Current DMCA Safe Harbor System;
- Potential Future Evolution of the DMCA Safe Harbor System; and
- other developments in the law.

Update on H.R. 1695: Should the Register of Copyrights Become a Political Appointee?

For those not familiar with the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act (H.R. 1695) this Legislative Bill would extinguish the authority of the Librarian of Congress to appoint the Register of Copyrights, a responsibility that the Librarian has held since 1870. There has been relatively little public discussion of the Bill – in fact it has already passed in the House of Representatives. If the Bill is passed by the Senate, the power to appoint and dismiss the Register would shift to the President.



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