Famous Violations of Copyright Law

Famous Violations of Copyright Law

Jun 18

Artists definitely should be credited for and profit from their creations; it isn’t easy to come up with a snazzy tune or a thought-provoking image. Many an artist have paid for their creative zeal by dying in poverty or losing their sanity, and it would not be fair that they should not at least be acknowledged for their work.

This is the impetus behind copyright law, but claiming its protection is far from a cut-and-dried process. In music, for example, there are only 8 notes to work with, so it is natural that some works may have certain similarities. In photography, two people may unknowingly shoot the same subject in roughly similarly circumstances and publish independently. Story plots also come into their share of disputes, ranging from books to movies.  There are also cases where an artist is inspired by another artist’s work to make their own creation or builds on an existing work to create a whole new dimension for it, such as parodies i.e. the work of Weird Al Yankovic.

There are many instances when distinguishing between copyright infringement and “fair use” boils down to which side has a better lawyer.

Some of the more famous violations of copyright law illustrate these gray areas in intellectual property law. For example, did you know that the catchy Rod Stewart song “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” was based on a song by Brazilian artist Jorge Ben entitled “Taj Mahal”? Stewart claimed that there was no intention to copy the song; the melody reverberated with the singer and inadvertently leaked into the famous song. Stewart settled.

A case of questionable appropriation occurred between artist Richard Prince and photographer Patrick Cariou when Prince used Cariou’s work as the foundation for his own brand of art. Eventually, Prince won the legal battle when the judge overturned the initial verdict and declared that the changes introduced by Prince brought new meaning to the original photograph, and came under “fair use.”

Copyright law is complex, mainly because it is attempting to infuse objectivity into what is essentially a subjective discipline: art. If you think you are the next Usher, make sure that you engage the services of one of the Dallas intellectual property lawyers in your area to properly protect your rights.

Absence of Evidence: Dangers of Byetta

Absence of Evidence: Dangers of Byetta

Jun 16

More than 25 million adults and children in the US have diabetes, and type 2 diabetes mellitus is the most common type of the condition that typically affects adults, although it has been diagnosed in those below 20 years of age in increasing numbers. Diabetes is primarily the inability of the body to process sugar, leading to high levels of sugar in the blood.

Why is this bad? Excess sugar in the blood coats hemoglobin (the red part of the blood) making it sticky and stiff, hampering blood circulation and causing build up of cholesterol in the blood vessels. This is why those who have diabetes are at higher risk for cardiac problems. Persistent high blood sugar levels also loads up the kidneys to the point of damaging it. It is a saying among diabetics that no one dies of the disease itself; they die of the complications, and now we see why.

It stands to reason that the best way to manage type 2 diabetes is to control the blood sugar levels. This can be achieved through following a strict diet and regular exercise, but it can also be through certain drugs. The latest breakthrough in anti-diabetic medication is the use of incretin mimetics, a group of drugs that basically mimics the action of insulin, the hormone that processes and regulates sugar in the blood. Among the first incretin products that came out in the market was Byetta, the brand name anti-diabetic drug manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squibb and marketed by Eli Lilly. It was wildly successful because not only did it control blood sugar levels but also promoted weight loss.

Unfortunately, the dangers of Byetta became evident when patients started developing serious complications while taking the drug, primarily pancreatic cancer. While the most recent studies find no evidence of a causal relationship between Byetta or other incretic mimetic drugs and pancreatic cancer, the fact is a significant number of those who were prescribed incretins developed serious and often fatal complications involving the pancreas.

Affected patients or family members are currently suing incretin mimetics drug makers for overpromoting the products and failing to warn patients and doctors of the potential side effects. If you or a close family member have likewise been affected, consult with find the most experienced among the Byetta side effects lawyers in your state to assess your case for a possible claim.

Understanding Insurance Bad Faith

Understanding Insurance Bad Faith

Jun 14

We all know and accept that insurance companies are in business to make money, and they happen to do so by providing for a “rainy day.” It is a needed service for individuals and companies because you just never know when you will need it. It is essentially a betting game; we’re betting that we’ll need coverage and insurance companies are betting we won’t. In an ideal world, the chances are against us, but we’re okay with that because we’d rather be healthy and safe than justify the premiums we pay. However, when something bad happens it’s a good thing if we have insurance coverage for it, and insurance companies lose their bet.

Insurance companies count on the fact that only a small number of policyholders will make a claim, so they keep the bulk of the premiums for their bottom line. This is acceptable practice and perfectly legal.

However, when insurers go to any lengths to prevent policyholders from making a claim or minimize their payouts, they cross the line from smart business to bad faith. Insurance bad faith is a breach of the duty of care insurance companies owe their policyholders, which is basically really just to honor the terms of the policy. Insurers act in bad faith when they delay processing claims to an unreasonable degree, deny legitimate claims, or defend payout amounts that are not in accordance with the terms of the policy.

The language in insurance policies is often arcane and confusing, making sense only to actuaries and lawyers. Dallas, for example, is considered the most natural disaster prone city in Texas, affected by tornados more than any other in the state, and above the national average. It is more than likely that some residents have fallen victim to insurance bad faith, but because few people truly understand what their policies cover and their rights under the law, unscrupulous insurers get away with it.

If you are dissatisfied with the way you were treated by your insurer when you made a claim, talk with an experienced Dallas insurance bad faith lawyer. If you have an actionable case, your lawyer will advise you about your next step.

Coming Back from Wrongful Termination

Coming Back from Wrongful Termination

Jun 11

Times are hard, and holding on to a job is essential. Sadly, it can be an uphill climb. All states in the U.S. subscribe to employment at-will, where private employers have the freedom to terminate an employee at any time without having to show just cause. There are exceptions, such as when there is an employment contract or the employee handbook implies that an employee will not be terminated without just cause. When an employee is terminated in contravention of these written or implied contracts, it may be considered wrongful termination.

In a state such as North Carolina, where an implied contract such as the verbal promise of the employer that termination will be based on just cause is not recognized, there are fewer grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit. The sudden and unexpected loss of employment can have disastrous results, such as on child custody and visitation agreements. The unemployed parent will have a hard time contesting a petition for modification of these agreements or to convince the judge that it is in the child’s best interest to get custody when money is tight.

However, there are some circumstances when termination is definitely illegal, and that is when the basis for termination is discrimination for membership in a federally-protected class of people. These include but not limited to termination due to age, gender, gender-related medical conditions, genetic information, race, ethnicity, nationality, and disability. It is also possible to come back from wrongful termination when it is an act of retaliation. Employment lawyers in New York and most other states are always quick to discover any whiff of discrimination in a particular termination case because discriminatory practices are not longer acceptable socially or legally.

Product Recalls and Warnings for Dangerous Products

Product Recalls and Warnings for Dangerous Products

Jun 10

It seems that the unlikeliest things are turning out to pose dangers to the general public, but especially for young children. The Consumer Protection and Safety Commission (CPSC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have recently issued numerous product recalls and warnings for dangerous products including pool filtration systems, children’s pajamas, medical devices, and pharmaceutical defects; the list seems never-ending.

Manufacturers are responsible for ensuring the safety of their products, and to provide adequate warning labels for inherently or potentially dangerous products. Included in this duty of care is thorough product testing to find out how it performs under typical conditions and the possible problems that may arise. This applies to drug companies and medical device manufacturers as well. Medtronics, Inc. and Medtronic Sofamor Danek USA, Inc., for example, have drawn the attention of many advocates for the off-label use of its product INFUSE Bone Graft. Dorel Juvenile Group, Inc., which had already come under fire for a defective car seat accessory, has been cited in another product liability case (Reed et al v. Dorel Juvenile Group, Inc.).

Innocuous products such as soft baby carriers have been an issue of concern for government watchdogs, and parents are urged to be more vigilant with the products they patronize. Unfortunately, because there are literally millions of products in the market, a lot of product defects come to public attention only when someone gets injured, or worse. It is a sobering thought that a small defect in a product’s design can have such serious or fatal consequences.

If you have experienced problems with a product because of misleading marketing, a design or manufacturing defect, or missing or inadequate warning labels, report it at once to the relevant agency. If you or a family member has already suffered injury or death because of defective drugs, malfunctioning medical devices, or dangerous products, contact a personal injury lawyer immediately to assess the situation.