Thursday, February 27, 2014

Here Goes DeMulle Again

In light of the upcoming storm, residents of Sunland-Tujunga are having memories of the big storm of 1978 which wrought significant damage on the area, taking out bridges, roads, homes, and, most notably, a most gruesome event when the floods washed out graves at the Verdugo Hills Cemetery and in some cases, washed coffins and corpses up on the lawns of neighboring residents.

Indeed, I remember that, I was a 14 year old paperboy for the Valley News and Greensheet (now the Daily News) and that morning, I unwrapped my papers to see the macabre photos on the front page. But I digress.

Our old pal. Dr. David DeMulle of the Foothills Paper is posting on the paper's Facebook page, clips from the Los Angeles Times' coverage of the event with the following "notification:"

These photo are copyright of The Foothills paper and may not be used with written permission of the owner.
Obvious grammar and syntax issues aside, DeMulle is sadly mistaken if he thinks he can copyright the Times' work. The paper's official response on their Facebook page not only doesn't make sense in English, it really holds zero weight from a legal perspective:

When we re-created the photo story from segments in our archives.
Au contraire, good doctor. You may be attempting to make the claim that your re-publication of these photos is some sort of derivative work. A derivative work is a creation that includes some portion of a previous, or underlying, work. For example, rapper Vanilla Ice's Ice Ice Baby includes the bass line form Under Pressure by David Bowie and Queen. Ice (real name Rob Van Winkle) samples the previous tune, but adds new lyrics and additional music accouterments, creating a derivative work. A more current colloquialism is "mash-up"

Derivative Work

US Copyright law gives protection to derivative works to the extent that the new work contains significant new work. Like a rap song sampling a previous recording or perhaps including part of a previous painting in a new painting. But there has to be new work. Simply republishing the existing work without any major modifications, or in this case very little beyond putting it on Facebook, does not a derivative work.

Not a Derivative Work

And here's the kicker - even if one has created an actual derivative work, the creator of the original work does not lose their original copyright claim on the work and would be due royalties on any publishing. Indeed, Van Winkle had to cut Bowie, Brian May, Freddie Mercury Roger Taylor and John Deacon in for a cut of the royalties as well as songwriting credit on Ice Ice Baby.

The bottom line is DeMulle putting up photos of old Times clips gives him no copyright clam and it certainly does not absolve him of paying royalties to the Times.

Perhaps they should send him a bill.

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