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Copyright

Steptoe & Johnson LLP attorneys advise and represent clients in a broad range of issues relating to the acquisition, transfer, exploitation, negotiation, preservation, and protection of their rights in copyrightable works.

Our clients include authors; playwrights; musicians; composers; choreographers; artists; designers; performers; producers; print and electronic publishers; news organizations; broadcasters; software licensors, developers and licensees; standards organizations; web site owners, developers, and users; fashion industry manufacturers and retailers; directors, actors, producers and others in the entertainment industry; multinational corporations and others engaged in creating and disseminating copyrightable works, musical works, open and proprietary source software, content, and databases.

Data Protection, Web Sites and Electronic Publishing

We provide a full range of advice and services supporting the creation, development, maintenance, exploitation, and protection of web sites and electronic publishers.  These issues range from copyrightable content and use to terms of web site use; licensing, linking, framing, and scraping of content; privacy; defamation; and the exercise of First Amendment rights.  We regularly counsel clients on the most efficient and practical means to protect software and databases through copyright, patent, trade secret, and other methods. We also assist our clients in protecting their copyrighted works on third-party websites by drafting and enforcing notice and take-down letters under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

News and Entertainment

For clients in the performing and fine arts, we prepare and negotiate appropriate acquisition, transfer, funding, licensing, and other contracts formalizing transactions to protect and exploit clients’ respective talent and publicity rights.

Steptoe attorneys also provide pre-publication review of news and other copy, and assist clients in executing literary publication and television contracts, negotiating copyright licenses, and responding to media subpoenas, prior restraints, and gag orders. For clients in the entertainment industry, we draft and negotiate agreements to assist in the exploitation and distribution of copyrighted films, television programs and other media.  We also work with law enforcement agencies to protect our clients’ rights by preventing the sale of pirated material.

Research Organizations

We have extensive experience licensing and negotiating all forms of copyrightable works for both profit and nonprofit scientific, health and research organizations to exploit their copyrightable works, including subscription services, as a source of revenue in support of their objectives.

Litigation

Steptoe attorneys have significant experience in copyright litigation.   Our attorneys have continued to litigate software copyright issues.  For example, the firm represented Stratos Global Corporation, a telecommunications company, in copyright infringement litigation related to computer software. The case, Stratos v. Telenor (D.Md), settled favorably soon after filing the complaint.  Our attorneys also recently defended Regions Financial Corporation in a contract action (Kirchman Corporation v. Regions Financial Corporation) concerning bank data processing software in which the plaintiff was seeking in excess of 60 million dollars.  The action was concluded with a settlement favorable to Regions.  In Textile Secrets International, Inc. v. Ya-Ya Brand Inc., 524 F. Supp. 2d 1184 (C.D. Cal. 2007), our attorneys convinced the court to grant summary judgment on a novel issue of law concerning the proper interpretation of a provision under the DMCA.  In Kay v. Kanter (Los Angeles Superior Court), our attorneys successfully represented a young filmmaker in a suit for declaratory relief concerning the ownership of a copyrighted film.

Representative Matters

  • Michael Miller Fabrics, LLC v. Kuhn Rikon Corp. (S.D. N.Y. 2013) - Represented Sears Holdings Management Corp. in a copyright infringement suit related to a fabric design.
  • Eighth Floor Promotions, LLC v. R.S. Owens & Co. (S.D. Ohio, 2009) - Representing Eighth Floor Promotions, LLC in a copyright infringement case related to rival trophy design.
  • Stratos v. Telenor (D. Md.) – Represented Stratos Global Corporation in copyright infringement litigation related to computer software.
  • Kay v. Kanter (Los Angeles Super. Ct., 2007) – Represented, Kay, young filmmaker in a declaratory relief action concerning the ownership of a copyrighted film.  The case concluded with a settlement that resulted in our client owning all rights in the film.
  • Textile Secrets International, Inc. v. Ya-Ya Brand Inc., 524 F. Supp. 2d 1184 (C.D. Cal., 2007) – Represented Ya-Ya Brand Inc. and successfully obtained summary judgment on a novel issue of law concerning the proper interpretation of a provision under the DMCA.
  • Kirchman Corporation v. Regions Financial Corporation (M.D. Fla., 2006)Defended Regions in a contract action concerning bank data processing software in which the plaintiff was seeking in excess of $60 million. The action was concluded with a settlement favorable to Regions.
  • The Welk Group, Inc. v. Televisa, S.A. de C.V. (Los Angeles Super. Ct., 2006) – Defended Televisa in a common-law copyright infringement action involving music in television programs.

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