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The Copyright Licensing Office (CLO) provides assistance, services, tools, and resources to the faculty, staff, and students of Brigham Young University to successfully navigate the challenging landscape of copyright.

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The mission of the BYU Copyright Licensing Office is to ensure compliance with copyright laws by providing education and training, assuring effective licensing practices, resolving unauthorized use of copyright protected materials, and remaining current with copyright law and policy developments.

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Jun 20, 2017

Utah Court Holds Public Universities Immune From Copyright Lawsuits

Israel v. University of Utah, 15-cv-00741 (D. Utah 2015)
By Fabiana Lauf

Utah has joined a growing number of states in which courts have held that public universities cannot be sued by private individuals in federal court for copyright infringement. In an Order dated April 18, 2017, the U.S. District Court of Utah dismissed a copyright infringement lawsuit brought against the University of Utah, holding that the university enjoyed sovereign immunity from such suits.

The case had been filed by Esther Israel, a former graduate student, who claimed that the university and a number of individual faculty members and students allegedly infringed the copyright in her master’s thesis and underlying research, by producing publications and other materials based on her research. Without addressing the merits of Israel’s complaint, the court held that the University of Utah, as an arm of the state, was immune from copyright infringement lawsuits under the Eleventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Israel argued that Congress abrogated states’ sovereign immunity from copyright suits by enacting the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act (CRCA) in 1990. However, the district court concluded that Congress lacked the authority to enact CRCA, and held “federal courts have uniformly found that [CRCA] did not validly abrogate state sovereign immunity . . . .”

 

Jun 09, 2017

Mayo Clinic Sued for Using Copyrighted Charts in Training Courses

Enterprise Management Ltd., Inc. v. Mayo Clinic, 17-cv-00943 (M.D. Fla.); Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research v. Enterprise Management Ltd., Inc., 17-cv-00941 (D. Minn.); Enterprise Management Ltd., Inc. v. Warrick, 717 F.3d 1112 (10th Cir.)
By Daniel Shen

On April 20, 2017, Dr. Mary Lippitt filed a complaint against Mayo Clinic for the alleged infringement of one of her copyrighted works. Dr. Lippitt had registered various versions of a chart that presents a system for managing complex organizational change (the Managing Complex Change Chart, or “MCC Chart”), and had exclusively licensed those works to Enterprise Management Limited, a consulting firm Dr. Lippitt founded and the joint plaintiff here.

 

Mayo Clinic’s Quality Academy Charts

In the complaint, Dr. Lippitt alleged that Mayo Clinic had used charts that were nearly identical to her copyrighted works. The disputed charts, pictured above, were used from 2011 to 2015 as part of Mayo Clinic’s training courses in its Quality Academy, offered to approximately 1,400 people per year. The complaint claimed that Mayo Clinic’s charts were “either identical or derivative of Dr. Lippitt’s work” and that “[c]learly, Defendants literally copied the MCC Chart without authorization, or created an unauthorized, clearly derivative work based on [Dr. Lippitt’s copyrighted work],” pictured below.

Dr. Lippitt’s MCC Chart

According to the accounts provided by an action for declaratory judgment filed by Mayo Clinic on March 29, 2017 and Dr. Lippitt’s complaint, initial licensing negotiations between Dr. Lippitt and Mayo Clinic started on August 18, 2016 but had broken down for disputed reasons before each side turned to its legal counsel. In letters exchanged between counsel from both sides, Mayo Clinic first offered $5,000 to Dr. Lippitt to settle the matter, which she countered with a $75,000 demand.

In the exchange of letters, Mayo Clinic claimed that “Lippitt’s materials are not subject to copyright protection,” in part because “copyright law does not protect facts or ideas.” Mayo Clinic included in its action for declaratory judgment Google search results for “complex change management,” stating that the vast majority of the results do not attribute any credit to Dr. Lippitt.

Google Search Results

Mayo Clinic then offered $10,000 to Dr. Lippitt as a “monetary amount in acknowledgement of her research and efforts in the field of managing complex change” and to presumably settle the matter. Dr. Lippitt responded by increasing her proposed settlement to $125,000, citing a previous appeals court decision in Enterprise Management Ltd., Inc. v. Warrick, 717 F.3d 1112, (10th Cir. 2013), also involving Dr. Lippitt’s MCC Chart that found the chart to be copyrightable. That offer was set to expire on March 31, three weeks before Dr. Lippitt’s complaint was filed.

Jun 08, 2017

Publisher Sued for Posting YouTube Video to Facebook

Rudkowski v. Capitol Hill Publishing Corp., 17-cv-03992 (S.D.N.Y.)
By Fabiana Lauf

Lukasz Rudkowski is a photojournalist and videojournalist who licenses photos and videos to online, print, and television stations for a fee. On April 15, 2017, Rudkowski recorded Antifa and pro free speech activists facing off against each other in Berkeley, California, and uploaded the following video of the event to his YouTube account WeAreChange.

The video was also registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. On May 26, 2017, Rudkowski filed a complaint against Capitol Hill Publishing, which publishes The Hill, based on its alleged unauthorized reproduction and public display of his copyrighted video.

Specifically, Rudkowski asserts that on or about April 15, 2017, Capitol Hill Publishing recorded his video from YouTube, cropped out his logo, and then included the altered video in a Facebook post entitled Fights erupt at Berkeley rally, WATCH: Pro and anti-Trump supporters clash at Berkeley rally. The complaint alleges that the publisher committed copyright infringement by reproducing and publicly displaying the video without Rudkowski’s authorization. The complaint further alleges that the publisher intentionally removed copyright management information by cropping out the logo.

Capitol Hill Publishing’s Facebook post has received over 1 million views. Rudkowski is seeking actual damages and the publisher’s profits or, alternatively, statutory damages of $150,000 per copyrighted work infringed and $25,000 per instance of removal of copyright management information.