5 Copyright & IP Things You Missed at the DMLA 24th Annual Conference

December 10, 2019

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When your product is “digital media” and the marketplace transaction is “licensing” nothing beats copyright and IP issues to draw a crowd. And this year was no exception at the Digital Media Licensing Association’s 24th Annual Conference recently held in LA. 

The always popular Hot Topics In Legal, where senior-level legal experts and industry leaders share their annual insights on recent case law, regulations, and industry legal trends was supplemented this year by afternoon roundtables allowing attendees to ask questions, debate and dig deeper into copyright and IP.

Here are 5 highlights.

Optimism Builds Congress Will Finally Pass The CASE Act

After years of struggle, and days before the conference began, the House passed the CASE Act, sending it on to the Senate, and hopefully the Presidents’ desk for signature. Nancy Wolff, Senior Counsel of the DMLA described the tireless work of the Visual Arts Coalition, formed years earlier by retiring Executive Director Cathy Aron, resulting in a rare non-partisan vote of 410 Yes to 6 No votes. With the clock winding down on a raucous legislative session, it will be down to the wire for final passage of the bill.

Synthetic Content is a Term You Need To Know   

Everyone has heard of “deep fakes”, but there is an umbrella term for any content created to look real, that isn’t – “synthetic content”. And according to Paul Reinitz, directing Advocacy and Legal Operations at Getty Images, you need to be thinking about it a lot more. Presenting model images from a source licensing images indistinguishable from real people, Paul wonders whether the people whose images created the training sets need to grant permission? Are they a derivative work? Are images created by a machine even copyright-able, since copyright requires a human author? Do privacy laws apply? 

Stay tuned, but a good segue to…   

As Privacy Law Becomes More Robust, Licensors Must Take More Action

If you are searching for good news, amidst the constant reports of data breaches and refrigerators tracking your dietary habits, Sejal Patel Richbough, IP and Litigation attorney at Shutterstock, reported convincingly on a global trend towards increased privacy protections in a variety of areas – from portability, to transparency, to the right to be forgotten to the ability to more easily opt-out, correct and remove. And as these protections increase, Sejal recommended licensors review current practices and develop a checklist to answer – Is keeping the data necessary? Are their regional usage exemptions? Is your privacy policy up to date? Can you technically handle requirements? Do you have a rapid breach-response system in place?

Of course you do.

Copyright Enforcement Best Practices Come Under the Microscope

In a year when VCG had to temporarily shut down its site due to copyright enforcement issues, Dan Pollack from Dipchand LLP led an international panel including Marion Bigot (Agence France-Presse), Peter Richter (Image Law), Naomi Sarega (Higbee & Associates) and Anne-Sophie Quilliet (PicRights Europe) in a lively discussion about the enforcement landscape in the US, France, UK and Germany. Panelists shared perspectives on the enforcement process in their respective countries and how and when legal fees were calculated.  Marion Bigot of AFP reinforced the importance of the contribution enforcement makes to the overall revenue of the company. And everyone working to protect against legitimate infringement reinforced the need for the DMLA and industry to fight and denounce copyright trolls who alienate judges and hurt creators and licensors.    

CASE Act Makes Registering Content Ever More Important

There may be nothing more distinct about American copyright law than its rules on registering content with the copyright office. But with the CASE Act on the cusp, there may be nothing more important to protect creators, agencies and publishers than having content registered in a timely manner. A roundtable, where moderator and ImageRights CEO Joe Naylor was joined by legal experts Joel Rothman, founding partner of SRIPLaw, Michael Masterson of Permission Machine, Jo Ardalan, Chair of One LLP’s Internet Law Practice Group, and photographer Dana Hursey, the sometimes arcane rules of registration and the difference for published and unpublished works in each media format – were discussed. With limits on the number of works that can be submitted at any one time, the experts suggested ways to refine the shoot, edit, distribute, register process for more effective registrations. It remained a mystery to why a photographer could publish 750 images in one batch, but a visual artist submitting a 2D illustration or painting could still only submit one published work at a time. And while the entire distinction between published and unpublished works was embraced by many, everyone agreed the current review of copyright law and potential updates in Washington was going to be a long road ahead.