I concentrate in copyright law, particularly as applied to:
content of the Internet,
protecting authors and copyright owners for their scholarly work,
copying of books and periodicals for use in teaching at schools, colleges, and universities,
copying of books and periodicals for use in scholarly research, and
copyright on sheet music in education, especially baroque or classical music.
I can easily travel to towns in northeastern Massachusetts,
or to the Boston area, including Cambridge, MA.
About Dr. Standler
By way of introduction, I:
programmed computers since 1968,
earned a Ph.D. in physics in 1977,
was a professor of electrical engineering for ten years,
am the author of more than 30 published archival technical papers, one book,
and more than 97 scholarly essays at my websites
am a webmaster continuously since Jan 1997 (which gives me an understanding
of copyright issues on the Internet),
read orchestral scores since 1965 and used Finale music software since 1992
(which gives me an understanding of music copyright issues),
am an attorney in Massachusetts since December 1998.
My experience means that I personally understand the
importance of protecting intellectual property rights of
authors and programmers by using copyright law.
I shall personally do all work on my client's case or problem,
so that my client gets the full benefit of my education and experience.
Essays on this website are provided only to provide general information
and to communicate my personal comments on interesting topics in
law, technology, and society. Essays on this website are neither
legal advice nor legal opinion. Accessing this website or reading
documents on this website does not create an attorney-client
relationship. See my disclaimer
All essays at this website are protected by copyright.
I have posted my Terms Of Service
for printing, copying, and distributing my essays
at this website.
I am an attorney only in Massachusetts, so I can not provide
legal advice to people in other states of the USA, unless they have been
injured or sued in Massachusetts, or unless your local attorney hires me as a consultant.
However, I have posted the following hints for
how to find an attorney.
Copyrights are part of intellectual property law,
and are intended to not only give authors control over their work,
but also provide an economic reward to authors through licensing fees or royalties.
The use of photocopy machines since the mid-1960s and the development of the Internet since
the mid-1990s has led to a culture of widespread copyright infringement.
My summary of copyright law in the USA
considers copyright infringement on the Internet, as well as
fair use, photocopy machines, and plagiarism.
My essay on
moral rights of authors discusses legal
rights granted to authors in France, Germany, Italy, and other countries,
but which are absent from law in the USA. I argue that the term "moral rights"
is a misnomer and that copyright law in the USA should be expanded to include
at least the moral right of attribution.
My long essay on plagiarism
in colleges in the USA discusses legal aspects and academic policy. Because
I work in both higher-education law and copyright law,
I look at plagiarism in colleges and universities from two perspectives.
In June 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court in Dastar ended the use of trademark law
(i.e., false designation of origin) to punish plagiarists.
My essay on plagiarism discusses Dastar
and the problems caused by Dastar.
Williams & Wilkins v. U.S., 172 U.S.P.Q. 670 (Ct.Cl. 1972),
rev'd, 487 F.2d 1345 (Ct.Cl. 1973) is the first case in the USA
involving photocopying of copyrighted journals by a library.
I have posted the entire
trial court's opinion and the
entire appellate opinion,
together with my annotations and critical analysis of this case.
Law (e.g., statutes, judicial opinions, government regulations) in the USA is not
copyrightable subject matter, although — bizarrely — at least 17 states
in the USA attempt to copyright either their statutes or judicial opinions, and
for-profit companies publish most of the law used in the USA.
My essay traces the history of copyright for
law in the USA,
and explains the recent rise of public-domain citation formats for judicial opinions.
If a work is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office before
infringement occurs, and if the copyright owner wins copyright infringement
litigation, then the judge may order the infringer to reimburse the
copyright owner's reasonable attorney's fees.
17 U.S.C. §§ 412, 505.
In May 2010, I began writing a 121-page technical essay
on the criteria used by a judge to decide whether to award
to a prevailing party in a copyright infringement case.
My essay emphasizes law in the Second, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits.
I also include a discussion of "reasonable" attorney's fees, mostly from cases
in the U.S. Supreme Court or the Seventh Circuit. This essay considers
seldom-discussed details in law, which are economically important to litigants.
What does a copyright on a compilation of preexisting material protect?
After the 1991 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Feist,
copyright on compilations of facts
seems to protect the creative expression of an author in presenting facts.
My essay on copyright for
gives the history of the law in this area and explains problems with the current law.
The law in the USA requirespermission for either
the commercial exploitation of a person's name or likeness (e.g., photograph)
or recording any performance (e.g., music, entertainment, lecture, etc.).
I have posted an essay on
common-law copyright in the USA,
which protected unpublished works from the early 1800s
until 1 Jan 1978.
Common-law copyrights continue to protect works that are not "fixed in
any tangible means of expression", such as unrecorded performances.
music copyright law
My main webpage on
copyright of music discusses copyright of sheet music
and sound recordings. I have also posted a collection of
links to resources on music copyright law.
I posted a provocative essay on defects in current copyright law in the USA that might not
protect a new edition
of public-domain works (e.g., musical compositions by J.S. Bach). This essay also discusses
the legal standard for copyrightability of derivative works (e.g., arrangements) in music, and
the minimum length of a copyrightable theme in music.
I am not encouraging anyone to copy new editions of old music.
The only purpose of this essay is to encourage enactment of a federal statute
to protect the labor, skill, and expense of scholars who produce new editions of
Performance of music recorded before 15 Feb 1972 continues to be
protected by state law in the USA, as explained in my essay on
common-law copyright in the USA.
Common-law copyright also protects a performance that was not recorded,
or was recorded without the permission of the performers.
The law in the USA requirespermission
from the performers for the recording of their performance.
copyright for neither ideas nor facts
It is a fundamental rule of copyright law that
ideas are not protected by copyright.
My essay traces the history of the rule, including the reasons given by judges for this rule.
I criticize the lack of a definition for ideas in copyright cases.
I also explain the idea-expression merger and its history.
A section of my essay compares U.S. patent law (which protects some useful ideas)
with copyright law.
There is weak or nonexistent copyright protection for nonfiction works, including compilations of
facts, because judges in the USA decided that facts are not copyrightable.
The U.S. Supreme Court in 1985 agreed with the rule that facts are not copyrightable,
and reiterated that holding in the Feist case in 1991, which also held that telephone
directories were not copyrightable.
My long, technical essay on copyright of facts:
explains why the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Feist was wrong.
traces the history of:
the rule that copyright does not protect facts (and criticizes that rule),
judicial remarks that copyright protects the "labor, skill, and expense" of authors, and
unfair competition for misappropriation of an author's labor —
so-called "sweat of the brow" cases.
briefly discusses the modern state law of unfair competition and its possible preemption by
federal copyright law.
traces the history of "modicum of creativity" and "original" as criteria for
copyrightability, and argues Feist was wrong to say that "original"
includes a "modicum of creativity".
explains why independent creation is neither copyright infringement nor unfair competition.
cites cases holding novelty is not a requirement for copyright.
mentions that photographs of nature (e.g., sunsets, lightning) and photographs
of buildings or landscapes are entirely factual, yet the law in the USA since 1865
has properly allowed copyright on photographs, again suggesting that Feist
was wrong to say facts can not be copyrighted.
and proposes amendments to the copyright statute.
As explained in my essay on copyright for facts, the current copyright law
(1) contains no protection for labor or expense for scholarly research,
and (2) weak or nonexistent protection for compilations of facts and nonfictional works.
Therefore, authors and publishers of nonfiction works should lobby Congress for protection.
After unauthorized copying occurs, it is too late to amend the copyright law.
I hope my essay on copyright for ideas and
my essay on copyright for facts
are useful to authors and publishers of:
research papers and reference books in mathematics, science, engineering, and medicine
nonfiction history books
commentaries about law (including lists of citations to sources) and
I welcome consulting opportunities from attorneys who represent publishers, authors,
or copyright owners.
I have written a short essay that traces the history of copyright for
of either facts or preexisting material, quotes from Feist,
and discusses some major compilation cases since Feist.
During April-June 2013, I prepared an annotated set of my proposed
changes to the Copyright Act of 1976,
as amended and codified at 17 U.S.C. §101, et seq.
My proposed changes strengthen legal rights of copyright owners,
and better protect authors and composers than the current law.
My long, technical essay on fair use
in copyright law cites many cases and law review articles.
I explain that many common practices by teachers and professors (especially photocopying
for distribution to students and downloading files from the Internet)
are actually copyright infringement.
I cite a long line of cases from the U.S. Courts of Appeals that hold
that copying an entire article, or
copying an entire chapter in a book, is never fair use.
Copyright 2009-2013 by Ronald B. Standler
This document at http://www.rbs2.com/icopyr.htm
first posted 14 Jan 2009, revised 15 Sep 2013