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Wisconsin Copyright Questions & Answers
4 Answers | Asked in Copyright, Education Law and Intellectual Property for Wisconsin on
Q: Can curriculum created by school staff through grants/federal funding be copyrighted?

Indigenous Immersion Schools receiving grant funding and federal funding to operate must create a complete curriculum in target language that is unavailable elsewhere for purchase. These schools would like to copyright their work and are trying to decipher who has legal rights to copyright.

Matthew Nuzum
Matthew Nuzum
answered on Mar 15, 2023

Yes, it can, however you need to review the terms of the grant. When the Federal Government produces creative material it usually is copyright free (search Google for "U.S. Government Works" to learn more). Works prepared for the Federal Government by contractors may be owned (and... View More

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1 Answer | Asked in Copyright, Trademark and Intellectual Property for Wisconsin on
Q: I am wondering if I can sell art that incorporates the name "Peep" and a very small fraction of a peep's shape.

The art says "Peep-a-Boo" and shows just the ears at the bottom of the image indicating it's about to come up or is hiding. I have another one that shows just the middle of a peep's face (two eyes but no ears or body) hiding in a cracked egg. Finally, I have one that shows a... View More

James L. Arrasmith
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answered on Mar 29, 2023

It is difficult to determine whether the use of "Peep" and a small fraction of a Peep's shape in your artwork would be considered a parody without more information about the context and purpose of your artwork. However, even if your artwork is intended as a parody, it is possible... View 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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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... View More

2 Answers | Asked in Copyright for Wisconsin on
Q: Can I use copyrighted assets for parody project and get compensation through donations for said project?

I created a video game addon that used official images of Flex Seal products and Phil Swift's likeness. I emailed his company asking if I could make a donation page to get a small amount of compensation from the addon and they said no. I then asked if I could continue to make the project for... View More

Marcos Garciaacosta
Marcos Garciaacosta
answered on Oct 28, 2021

You DEFINITELY should consult with an attorney to assess your risks

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2 Answers | Asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Wisconsin on
Q: Is it illegal to mark a photo containing a restaurant logo with a CC0 license?

I'm working on some open-source exercises for Russian language students, and for an alphabet-related exercise it would be very helpful to display pictures of Russian signs with English cognates that beginner students can read easily. However, I'm unsure of the legal implications of using,... View More

Kathryn Perales
Kathryn Perales
answered on Dec 2, 2020

Here, you are describing the intersection of copyright and trademark law. While it would be trademark infringement to open your own restaurant called Burger King, or to sell a hamburger wrapped up in a wrapper that says Burger King, you certainly can take a picture of a Burger King restaurant and... View More

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2 Answers | Asked in Copyright for Wisconsin on
Q: Youtube updated their TOS in November 2020 to include rights to monetise copyrighted content, without paying? Legal?

The Youtube TOS for the USA was updated on the 18th of November 2020, to state that Youtube has the right to monetise the videos on any channel, should they see fit, and, if the owner of said content is not a partner, Youtube is not required to pay them. The terms also state that the creator... View More

Steve Charles Vondran
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answered on Nov 25, 2020

This is not legal advice and is general information only. When you sign up to use a website, usually there are terms of service you agree to when you click on the "I agree" button. Some call this "clickwrap license." If you want to use the service (in this case YouTube and... View More

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1 Answer | Asked in Copyright, Patents (Intellectual Property) and Trademark for Wisconsin on
Q: Is the Audubon Bird images in public domain?
Kathryn Perales
Kathryn Perales
answered on Aug 31, 2020

The original paintings by John James Audubon are old enough that they are in the public domain. Any other photos or paintings or drawings, however, which may be available through the Audubon Society, may not be in the public domain.

1 Answer | Asked in Copyright and Patents (Intellectual Property) for Wisconsin on
Q: Do you know of any patents for a dr. Pepper bbq sauce?
John B. Hudak
John B. Hudak
answered on Aug 4, 2020

A patent search would be needed to determine if a patent possibly exists.

A do it yourself search can be started with learning about searching for patents on the USPTO website (https://www.uspto.gov/patents-application-process/search-patents)

Although, it is generally recommended...
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1 Answer | Asked in Copyright for Wisconsin on
Q: Are character and franchise names or concepts protected under copyright?

I would like to create a card game in which I use the names of certain people and characters from popular culture, both fictional and real. The pictures in the game are entirely original, but based on the general idea of the people and characters. Is this protected under parody, or is this a... View More

Evelyn Suero
Evelyn Suero
answered on Jul 30, 2020

Use of another brand's characters may constitute both copyright infringement as well as trademark infringement/dilution. There are limitations to the fair use and parody such as, the effect on marketability/sales that such use may have on a parodied brand. Consult with an attorney for more... View More

1 Answer | Asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Wisconsin on
Q: Assuming that a story itself is protected by copyright, does that also apply character names, quotes, etc. in the story?

Are you allowed to re-use a small percentage of a protected work?

Kathryn Perales
Kathryn Perales
answered on Jun 16, 2020

A tough question to answer, even when you know all of the specific details! Copyright protection certainly applies to quotations. It can apply to aspects of the characters, depending on how recognizable they are. As an example, writers of "fan fiction" encounter this dilemma all the... View More

2 Answers | Asked in Copyright for Wisconsin on
Q: I would like to use a short audio sample(~2s) from a tv show in a song and am wondering who to contact to obtain permiss

(permission) The sample does not contain any soundtrack (just a clip of dialogue) and is neither a consequential part of the source work or my composition

Barbara Berschler
Barbara Berschler
answered on Apr 29, 2020

There may be a few layers of copyright rights to evaluate. If you are just using lyrics from a song, then the copyright owner of the lyrics would be one person to contact. It is not clear what you mean by a "clip of dialogue." If what you want to copy is actual sound from the TV show,... View More

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1 Answer | Asked in Copyright for Wisconsin on
Q: Is it legal for an author to use the name Baby Ruth candy bar in a book?
Marcos Garciaacosta
Marcos Garciaacosta
answered on Mar 13, 2019

You are getting close to potential infringement.

You should consider using a different name.

Or try to get permission from the owners of the brand.

Q: What are the first steps in protecting a concept for/of a new business? Does it involve patents or copyright?
Kevin E. Flynn
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Kevin E. Flynn
answered on Jan 23, 2019

Might not be a patent. The Supreme Court has recently made it fairly difficult to patent a method of organizing human activity. See the documents used to train patent examiners -- https://www.uspto.gov/patent/laws-and-regulations/examination-policy/subject-matter-eligibility On the other hand,... View More

1 Answer | Asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Wisconsin on
Q: When can the "name" of a character be protected under copyright law, even though it typically wouldn't?

Copyright itself doesn't protect only just a name, you can't copyright just a name at all. But, "characters" should be protected under a copyright if they are unique, but isn't a name an intrinsic part of a character and its accompanying story?

Bryan Thomas Kroes
Bryan Thomas Kroes
answered on Aug 9, 2018

A full answer to your question will require a more fact-intensive analysis. Generally, copyright law will afford protection of the fictional character itself when it has appeared in a copyrightable work and has a life of its own within that work, however, achieving a level of distinctiveness such... View More

1 Answer | Asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Wisconsin on
Q: Copyright Use

Hello I am currently developing a college football website, and I created a logo that I am wondering if it would be OK to use. The logo uses the Big Ten conference font and says "B1G" like the Big Ten logo, but it is stretched out and there is a football filled inside of the letters... View More

Andrew Zulieve
Andrew Zulieve
answered on May 7, 2018

You probably should discuss this with an experienced intellectual property attorney. The issue may implicate issues of both copyright and trademark law. Your proposed logo may infringe the trademark rights of the Big Ten Conference if your logo creates consumer confusion as to the source of your... View More

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