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Recently in Intellectual Property Category

If you've got a great idea, you want to make sure no one else has already come up with it, and that no one will steal it later. There are a series of statutes, rules, and regulations that can protect your intellectual property rights, and they can work in different ways.

For instance, your invention may not be eligible for patent protection if someone else, unbeknownst to you, already filed a similar patent. But you may not even need to file your copyright in order to receive legal protection. Here's a closer look at the timelines for copyright and patent filings.

A "music industry peace treaty;" a "rare moment of bipartisan and trans-industry harmony;" a "significant step forward for music consumers and fans." The Music Modernization Act has been called a lot of things. But, now that the Senate has finally passed the copyright bill, what will it actually mean in real world terms for songwriters and musicians?

Here's what you need to know.

While we all know that lying is wrong, most lies don't become court cases. Judges aren't keen on resolving a spouse's unfulfilled promise of washing the dishes, for example. Even claims -- all evidence to the contrary -- that there will be a Broadway play and feature film about your life, complete with Angelina Jolie in the starring role and Steven Spielberg directing, are probably not going to get you into legal trouble.

Holding yourself out to be a Wall Street Journal reporter, and going to such lengths as to attend press events, interview subjects, and send billing requests to the company, however, will get you sued. But on what grounds?

From the Mueller investigation to Donald Jr.'s alleged contact with Russians to the Stormy Daniels fiasco, the Donald Trump administration is demonstrating how powerful emails can be when made public. Thus far, no one has gotten into any legal trouble for acquiring or leaking those emails, though they've certainly gotten the president in some hot water.

Chances are, you don't have such incriminating emails sitting in your inbox, but could you get in trouble for "leaking" them anyway? Can you publish someone's emails to you without consent? It largely depends on the content of the emails and your purpose in publication.

Writers of fan fiction from time to time get cease and desist letters from studio in-house lawyers demanding that they take down their work. While many of the original creators don't pursue the makers of fan fiction, some do, since more often than not fan fictions are blatant copyright violations. Occasionally, fan fiction writers will produce parodies, but most fan fictions are derivative works that attempt to continue or build upon the original work. 

Copyright law generally protects the creator of a work of fiction from someone else coming along and stealing not just their exact words, but also their characters, settings, storylines, and even fictional space languages. However, many fans get so engrossed in particular works that they are compelled to create continuations or variations on their favorite stories.

You probably don't realize that you've been paying for social media all this time that you thought it was free. No, you haven't been charged on a monthly basis. Instead, if you post pictures, videos, or any other content, you've been selling social media sites limited licenses to use your photos, and content, pretty much anyway they see fit. That's right, your favorite funny face profile pic could be emblazoned on an IRL (in real life) billboard next to a caption to sell the latest in fast acting laxatives.

While it is highly unlikely that any large social media site would go that far, most of their terms of service would allow them to. Generally, by agreeing to the terms of most social media sites, including photo sharing sites, users grant sites the right to use their photos for any purpose, including advertising, and even for re-licensing. This all means you might not be able to sue if you find out one of your photos got used unbeknownst to you.

A speech delivered by Melania Trump, wife of presidential candidate Donald Trump, garnered all kinds of attention for all the wrong reasons at the Republican National Convention this week. As many have pointed out, a large segment of her speech seems to have been lifted from a speech given first lady Michelle Obama at the Democratic National Convention in 2008.

A trump aide has since admitted to inadvertently included phrasing from Mrs. Obama's speech after Mrs. Trump read them to her over the phone, explaining why the two speeches sounded so similar. The aide resigned, but could she also be on the hook for copyright infringement? And who owns the copyright to a speech anyway?

Content Creation Nation: Lobster to License Your Facebook Photos

We are all content creators now, even if we do not consider ourselves creative, and Lobster has just announced a way that you too can monetize your Facebook photos. The new integration between the tech companies will allow users on the social media site to license their posted photos on a per use or subscription basis.

It sounds exciting for amateur photographers and may be the basis for the next Internet sensation -- the Justin Bieber of photography -- some kid who shoots amazing images with his phone. But should we be wary of entering the stock photography market without expertise? Let's consider the issues.

Yosemite Park Trademark Dispute Prompts Name Change

Nature enthusiasts were disappointed to learn that last week Yosemite National Park announced the change of some building names on its land due to a trademark dispute with Delaware North, the former park concessioner. Called "a fairly pedestrian contract dispute" by Mother Jones, the case has grown important to many because a beloved national park is at the heart of this matter.

It feels to many like an attack by business on a sacred space. And that is how the National Parks Service (NPS) wants us to feel. But what is really at stake?

Appropriation or Art? Instagram Print Sale Sparks Copyright Suit

If you print and enlarge a photo that someone posts on social media and display it in a gallery, is it art? Perhaps more importantly, is it your art?

Photographer David Graham does not think so and is suing Richard Prince and his gallerist Lawrence Gagosian for copyright infringement. The suit raises questions about fair use in the age of social media. But the notion of fair use is not new to Prince who made his name in the seventies "rephotographing" other artists' works. He is, according to Photo District News, an "appropriation artist."