Author - Steve Schlackman

As a photographer and Patent Attorney with a background in marketing, Steve has a unique perspective on art and law. Should you have any questions on Intellectual Property contact him at [email protected] His photography can be seen online at or on display at the Emmanuel Fremin Gallery in New York City.

unlicensed Music
Intellectual Property

Videographers Must Obtain Music Licensing Rights

For years, videographers have used music as a backdrop in their films, short videos, and documentaries. The law around music licensing is pretty clear: a license is required to use copyrighted music in a video.  This has been a standard practice since the dawn of music recordings. Yet, throughout the video industry, we find music being used without a license.  We need look no...

Art Forgery
Art Theft & Fraud

Using Synthetic DNA to Fight Art Forgery

Ever since humanity has created and sold artistic works or items of aesthetic beauty, there have been art forgers looking to relieve unsuspecting individuals of their hard-earned money. Over the centuries, purveyors of art have maintained a continuous struggle against art forgery, developing ever more sophisticated forensic tools to spot forgeries while, at the same time, the forgers find new...

Slander and Libel
Public Policy

When Do My Angry Statements Become Defamation?

Whenever an artist or writer portrays a living person in an unflattering light, they are likely to receive a letter or angry phone call saying things like “I am going to sue you for defamation” or “you’ll be hearing from my lawyer,” along with plethora of swear words. It sounds pretty serious and scary, but the reality is that it is usually just bluster; defamation...

Model Release
Right of Publicity

Why Businesses Should Always Have a Model Release

Let’s start with some advice: Any graphic materials that promotes something; whether products, a businesses, or charitable causes, and the graphics contain images of recognizable people, — always have those people sign a model release. Of course, there are non-commercial uses that may also require a model release, (see When To Use A Model Release) but commercial uses...

Monkey selfie
Intellectual Property

The Monkey Selfie: PETA Initiates Infringement Lawsuit for Macaque

The Internet is once again fixated on the infamous Monkey selfie, after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) filed a copyright infringement suit against David Slater, the wildlife photographer who claims to hold the copyright.  For those that may not remember, here is how Art Law Journal described the monkey selfie story back in 2013: In 2011, nature photographer David Slater...

Mickey Mouse Copyright
Intellectual Property

Is Copyright Duration Too Long?

The United States has been waging a battle against several other countries over how long a copyrighted work should be protected.  Copyright duration has been one of the major sticking points in the massive free trade agreement, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) being negotiated in secret between the U.S and eleven other countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico...

Right of Publicity
Right of Publicity

Does the Right of Privacy Apply to Photos?

Freedom of Speech is one of our most cherished values: #1 on the Bill of Rights hit parade. It is so important that it tends to trump most other laws. Yet, Freedom of Speech is not absolute.  It is often limited in ways we do not expect or includes speech some people would think is prohibited, such as the ravings of the Neo-Nazis or the Klu Klux Klan. Supreme Courts Justice Oliver...

Licensing Art
Corporate Law

How to License Your Art Successfully

In part 1, I talked about several methods for finding companies that would be the most likely to license your art for us on their products.  The next step is contacting those companies. Licensing decision makers, especially those working in large companies, are inundated with people looking to speak with them about potential opportunities, so always think about how you can break through all...

Popcorn Time
Intellectual Property

Popcorn Time’s Video Streaming Has It All, but Is It Legal?

Popcorn Time, a relatively new online movie streaming service, has just about all the media content you could want, from the latest movies to Amazon originals. the company has tripled its usage over the past 6 months, with enough users for Netflix to consider Popcorn Time a major competitor. One would think getting rid of an illegal service would be easy, but the way the software work, it will be...

Caravaggio Old Masters

Sotheby’s $15 million Caravaggio Disagreement

Whether a painting came from the hand of one of the Old Masters or is merely a copy made by a disciple will determine whether the work is exhibited in museums for centuries for the entire world to enjoy, or end up hidden away in a minor collector’s posh apartment. Appraising art is a difficult task, especially when a work is hundreds of years old. Despite amazing new scientific appraisal...

Eiffel Tower
Intellectual Property

Do Night Photos of the Eiffel Tower Violate Copyright?

A series of articles have been making their way around the Internet suggesting that taking photos of the Eiffel Tower at night could be a copyright infringement. Is this limitation real or hyperbole spewing from the overactive imaginations of the blogosphere? The answer depends on whether the Tower’s lighting is a copyrightable work of art or just a part of the structure. So before you...