Sunday, November 26, 2023

Per Ardua

Now this is interesting if you happen to want to be legally correct while writing about a naughty astronaut.

Per ardua ad astra is the motto of the British Royal Air Force, and means (roughly) "Through Hard Work To The Stars." I prefer, "Adversity", but it is not up to me.

What do astronauts have to do with copyright? You might well ask. All is revealed by the Claims IP blog which can be read in full here:

In brief:

"Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, who works on the International Space Station (ISS), recently repeated a scene from Kubrick's film "2001: A Space Odyssey" and shared it on her Twitter" 

Does one infringe a movie copyright by duplicating the costumes, sound track, and distinctive activities and publishing it? Is it homage? Is it parody? Is it news? Is it educational?

But the question that the European lawyers of the Claims IP blog ask is – "How do intellectual property rights apply to astronauts who have left the Earth?"

Their answer is that one's legal status does not change when one is in space, or even on another planet. One remains a citizen of the state, and under the legal juristdiction of the state from which one came. [Aside, Vivek might have a point about this, too.] So, if an American citizen were to commit a space crime or infringe copyright while in outer space, he or she or they might be subject to American civil or criminal law.

The blog has specific details. It does not seem that an infringement case has been brought, so this is all speculative.

Talking of dancing on the ceiling...or up the walls (with or without a nod to Lionel Ritchie,) legal blogger Karen Gover of the McDermott Will and Emery lawfirm's legal blog writes "A Step Forward For Choreography and Copyright." 

In football terms, this is about a bad call that was reversed upon further review. When Los Angeles based choreographer had some of his distinctive and brilliant dance moves copied and monetized by an animated video game, he sued, alleging direct and contributory infringement, and was most unfairly (IMHO) waved off. 

Hanagami appealed. The Appeals Court ruled that, just because a short dance sequence is short does not mean that it cannot deserve and receive copyright protection.

I would say, that seems right to me. There are pop songs that have very few lyrics, but they are copyright-protected... unless they were popular before 1972 -- which is also terribly unfair, IMHO.

Practice Note from Kaaren Gover: 

"Choreography has been protected by the copyright statute since 1976 but is rarely litigated. Hence, application of the substantial similarity test to dance works is not a robustly developed area of copyright law. Courts may look to the Copyright Office’s guidance documents on the subject as well as analogous cases involving musical works when applying the substantial similarity test to choreography."

By the way, I was looking up whether repetition of naught (as in naughty) and naut at the end of astronaut was a named figure of speech, such as assonance, when I came upon a great source for proper use of synecdoche or metonymy

"Too good not to share," I thought. Is that too word-nerdy? If one does not have the vocabulary, the precise vocabulary, it is hard to have clarity of thought.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry

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