Case tracker: Obama's dope-smoking poster; copyrighting dance moves; more Salinger vs. 'Catcher' sequel

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Case tracker: Obama's dope-smoking poster; copyrighting dance moves; more Salinger vs. 'Catcher' sequel

Thu Aug 06, 2009 @ 12:33PM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Poster5_228We haven't had a chance to catch up with all the entertaining case developments this week. Does Obama toke up? Can dance moves be copyrighted? Does J.D. Salinger want to kill Holden Caulfield? At least some of the cool tidbits of recent news:

  • A classmate of President Obama at Occidental College is angry at the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws for making so-called "fair use" of her snapshot of Obama puffing a cigarette by transforming it into a pro-marijuana poster. The caption on the poster is "Yes we cannabis." No word on whether the photographer is considering legal action, but a case would probably explore similar issues in the recent AP vs. Shepard Fairey dispute.
  • Famed choreographer Merce Cunningham recently died, and the executors of his estate are moving quickly to claim intellectual property ownership over the dance moves he created. "The future of his life's work cannot be left to chance," says Judith Fishman, chairman of the Cunningham Dance Foundation, perhaps playing on Cunningham's direction of a performance where custumes, lighting, and score were determined by the roll of a dice.  
  • The American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries, and the Association of College and Research Libraries have filed amicus briefs in support of a publisher's appeal of a court decision enjoining the release of a Swedish author's sequel to "The Catcher in the Rye." One thing perhaps overlooked is that the book, "60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye," not only features Holden Caulfield, but also J.D. Salinger himself, trying to kill Caulfield. This is a copyright case that's ironic on multiple fronts, but it might have been interesting to see how this would have played out if rights of publicity or defamation were alleged.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to [email protected]

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