Copyright: $100 million lawsuit against Oprah dismissed

A federal judge in Pennsylvania has ruled that Orpah Winfrey did not violate copyright laws when she mentioned a historical fact on her show.  The Court held that the plaintiff, Charles Harris, had no copyrighted information to infringe in his booklet titled “How America Elects Her Presidents,”  reasoning that under copyright law, facts, including facts about American presidents, are not copyrightable.  While factual compilations may be protected under the copyright laws, an author is still required to show that the compilation contained some type of originality (usually exhibited through unique selection and arrangement of facts).  In other words, there is no “sweat of the brow” protection under copyright laws for one’s research which contains unearthed facts.  One of the main reasons why facts are not protected under copyright laws is that facts are public domain, available to everyone, and they are the building blocks of all creation.  That’s why it is important to protect any uncopyrightable materials by contracting with third parties and implementing protective provisions.  Contact the attorneys at Bashian & Papantoniou, P.C. for more information on how to protect your copyright interests.

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