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Questions Answered by Steve Charles Vondran
2 Answers | Asked in Copyright, Gaming and Intellectual Property for Michigan on
Q: Is it illegal to make content using video game footage/pictures?

I want to make video game content like YouTube videos or screenshot pictures. Like game playthroughs or something. I also want to be able to monetize somehow, like with ads, affiliate marketing, or linking to Patreon.

But I'm worried about getting in trouble with copyright or getting... Read more »

Steve Charles Vondran
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Steve Charles Vondran
answered on Sep 13, 2022

My firm represents several large YouTube channel creators and here are a few general tips I can share with you:

1. when using a third-party video clip in your video, make sure to use only the "minimum necessary" to help tell your story. Most copyright owners do not object if you...
Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Consumer Law and Copyright for Texas on
Q: how do you sum up the case of Zippo Mfg. Co. v. Zippo Dot Com, Inc.,
Steve Charles Vondran
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Steve Charles Vondran
answered on Sep 7, 2022

To my best understanding of the case, Zippo Manufacturing Company sued Zippo Dot Com, Inc. for copyright infringement. Zippo manufacturers lighters, and Zippo Dot Com operated a website that sold a variety of lighter-related products, including cases, flints, and wicks. In its complaint, Zippo... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Missouri on
Q: If I take a photograph of the U.S. Capitol building, can I use it as part of the cover art for my novel?
Steve Charles Vondran
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Steve Charles Vondran
answered on Jul 26, 2022

Generally speaking, the photos you take are your own property, and can be protected by copyright. This means, as your property (IP), you can use it as you like. Some buildings can be subject to architectural copyright protection, but being a federal building (taxpayer funded), I would feel... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property on
Q: unknowingly downloaded copyrighted material.

I downloaded a game which released in 2016 from torrent 3 days ago. I didn't know what is torrent and I didn't know what I was doing is illegal.I watched a YouTube video teaching how to download the game and so I followed the video step by step and downloaded it and torrent, they... Read more »

Steve Charles Vondran
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Steve Charles Vondran
answered on Apr 10, 2022

Having defended hundreds of these BitTorrent download cases (mostly Strike 3 Holdings, LLC movies), the best I can tell you (not legal advice) is to STOP downloading and sharing movies. If you are found to have downloaded, let's say, 20 or more movies - that is about the lowest number I have... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Copyright for New York on
Q: Hi, I received a email saying that one of the images I used on my blog was copyrighted and I have to pay 1400

Hi, I received a email saying that one of the images I used on my blog was copyrighted and I have to pay 1400 to avoid legal action. But the email seems suspicious Am i obligated to pay? What legal action would I face if I ignored it ?

Here’s the email:

Please understand that as a... Read more »

Steve Charles Vondran
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Steve Charles Vondran
answered on Apr 5, 2022

These letters can be legit despite them sometimes looking like spam or a scam. You should have a photo infringement law firm look the letter over. Before we ever advise our clients to pay we like to look at the whole situation such as (1) who is sending the letter (2) do they have the legal... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Copyright for Wisconsin on
Q: How can I report a business with a logo violating a copyright?
Steve Charles Vondran
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Steve Charles Vondran
answered on Mar 18, 2022

If you have a REGISTERED copyrighted logo (meaning registered with the United States Copyright Office ("USCO") and someone has copied your logo, you can send them a cease and desist letter and being that they copyright was registered, you would have a right to sue in federal court for... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Massachusetts on
Q: If someone takes a screenshot of my tweet and shares it without my consent, is that a copyright violation?

Someone took a screenshot of something I said on twitter and removed the context to make me look like a sexual predator. I consider this to be potentially libelous and/or slanderous. Do I own the copyright of the tweet and if so, is there anything that can be done about it?

Steve Charles Vondran
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Steve Charles Vondran
answered on Mar 12, 2022

Good question. Generally speaking, a tweet is not typically copyrightable as it usually contains just a short phrase with a limited amount of characters and according to the United States Copyright Office ("USCO") this can be considered de minimus as far as creativity is concerned. Now,... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Copyright for New York on
Q: How do I sign up for copyright if I bought a copyrightable work on fiverr?

Hi I’m intending on creating a book and other copyrightable works on fiverr. I would be the buyer but I want to make sure I have all the rights to the works I am buying. How do I do that? Especially on the copyright.gov website?

Steve Charles Vondran
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Steve Charles Vondran
answered on Mar 12, 2022

This is a very important question. You always want to make sure when you buy something on Fiverr that you own the exclusive rights to the intellectual property created, and that the creator retains no interest in any projects done on your behalf. I have used Fiverr quite a bit and I will say it... Read more »

4 Answers | Asked in Copyright and Trademark for Pennsylvania on
Q: What do I do when you become aware someone is using your registered trademark in another state?

I obtained my trademark for "The Cheesecake Fairy" last year. I have been in business for over 7 years and finally decided to trademark my name. A bakery in another state is now calling themselves "The Cheesecake Fairy" and I fear this will cause great confusion for when I... Read more »

Steve Charles Vondran
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Steve Charles Vondran
answered on Mar 12, 2022

Generally speaking, if you were in business FIRST and got the federally registered trademark FIRST, then you may want to contact a trademark lawyer to look at all the facts and consider sending a cease and desist letter. Best of luck! See you at the top!

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1 Answer | Asked in Copyright and Trademark for Utah on
Q: I want to make some NFT art. Is there a way i can use comic characters, people's likenesses or mythical gods legally?

My art wouldnt be a copy and paste situation. For example, Its more or less a 3d sock puppet that looks like superman.

Steve Charles Vondran
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Steve Charles Vondran
answered on Jan 19, 2022

Generally speaking, you need to be careful when tying to use copyrighted pictures, images, characters, or real living third party persons in your NFT's. I know this is a new area of technology, but traditional principles of copyright law still exist. Unless you are making a COLLAGE, for... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Copyright for California on
Q: Using a person's name in a screenplay without asking for permission?

I have already asked this question. How do I use a person's name in a screenplay without asking for permission?

Steve Charles Vondran
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Steve Charles Vondran
answered on Mar 11, 2021

How were the answers you got lost time? You always have to be careful using a persons name, image, or likeness without their consent. Many states have "right of publicity laws" (for example, California where I practice). There are some exceptions to the rule (in California I am... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Copyright for Arizona on
Q: Can I use the cowgirl photos of this game without copyright infringement
Steve Charles Vondran
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Steve Charles Vondran
answered on Jan 26, 2021

I am not exactly sure what your question is, but are you referring to using the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders for commercial products? If that is the question, I would be very careful, you can run into potential problems including with "right of publicity" claims from the individual... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Indiana on
Q: I am writing a parody of Elsa and Anna I have a disclaimer stating it is a parody

The names are the same there our no pictures of the charcters them self can i write the book under section 107 of the fair use act

Steve Charles Vondran
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Steve Charles Vondran
answered on Jan 26, 2021

Parody protection can always be a tricky thing. A true parody is a work that makes fun (or "pokes fun") of the original. If you are doing that, you are in a much better position as section 107 does allow fair use protection for things like this, and for things such as "comment and... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Massachusetts on
Q: A photographer is claiming use of an image without permission and demanding copyright damages. What do we do?

N/A

Steve Charles Vondran
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Steve Charles Vondran
answered on Jan 20, 2021

There are many "photo trolls" out there seeking thousands of dollars for use of a single image. There are many different things we consider in deciding what amounts are fair and proper under the copyright law. For example, some factors to think of are:

1. Is the photo...
Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Copyright for Ohio on
Q: Are photographs taken of President Abraham Lincoln delivering his Second Inaugural Address in the public domain?

The photo in question was taken on March 4, 1865, by an employee, probably by Alexander Gardner, if so, of a privately-owned photography studio, owned by Matthew Brady. Can I reprint one of these photos in a book and be free of any legal consequences? Thank you.

Steve Charles Vondran
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Steve Charles Vondran
answered on Jan 14, 2021

Items in the public domain do not have copyright protections. That means, you can use these photos or images how you see fit, but make sure they are truly in the public domain (all rights expired). In your example, that photo would seem to be in the public domain. Public domain photos become... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Kentucky on
Q: Is it legal to use pictures found online for private use?

My family and I play dnd as a small group. Is it legal for us to use images from google as tokens for our characters?

The tokens do not get distributed and the images are only seen by us.

Would this qualify as fair use or would we need to seek permission to use the pictures.

Steve Charles Vondran
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Steve Charles Vondran
answered on Jan 8, 2021

This is a very important question. Before you invest in creating products or services using images found online, it is important to know who the "rights holder" is (the person who owns the legal rights to the photograph).

In some cases, a photo may be in the public domain, but...
Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Copyright on
Q: I am creating a board game based on a real life sport, for e.g Soccer. I am not planning on using any player images

Can I use the names of real players in the game? For e.g Harry Kane

If I cannot use real player names, can I use fictional names that are close to the real name. For e.g. Harry Kane becomes H Kene?

Steve Charles Vondran
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Steve Charles Vondran
answered on Dec 28, 2020

This is one you are probably want to seek legal help on. Many states, such as California, have a "right of publicity law" which protects a persons NAME, image and likeness. If it were me, I would not want my game to get big, only to find out one or more players want a "slice of the... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Copyright for North Dakota on
Q: I have received a copyright infringement notice from my ISP and I have immediately stopped any such activities

I had downloaded a file from torrent and deleted it immediately from my system. I just received a notice that my IP has been associated with such an activity. Now, what can I do?

Steve Charles Vondran
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Steve Charles Vondran
answered on Dec 24, 2020

You should still consult with a copyright defense law firm so you can see if there might be any future reason to worry. Sometimes things go away, and sometimes they don't. Best to get an idea where you stand after a lawyer reviews the evidence. Is it Strike 3 Holdings by any chance? If so,... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Consumer Law, Copyright and Trademark for Virginia on
Q: If an attorney sends you a cease and desist request, is is normal for them to also ask for fees?
Steve Charles Vondran
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Steve Charles Vondran
answered on Dec 9, 2020

This is not legal advice. From my jurisdictions (California and Arizona), I don't normally see a fee demand with a cease and desist, although I do not believe there is anything improper about requesting a pursuit fee in the right case. See you at the top! Attorney Steve®

2 Answers | Asked in Copyright for New York on
Q: I need to get copyright permission for a t-shirt made with janis joplin's photo?
Steve Charles Vondran
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Steve Charles Vondran
answered on Dec 8, 2020

This is not legal advice. I would have a lawyer look at this before you jump in especially if you are investing a lot of money. There can be rights of publicity issues and her estate could own some rights. Tread cautiously. Attorney Steve®

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