The top 5 things New Media Rights thinks you should know about the public domain.

At New Media Rights we work to make the public domain more accessible. In celebration of copyright week here are the top five things you need to know about the public domain.

5. No new works will fall into the public domain in the US until 2019.

Due to extensions in US copyright law back in the 60’s and 70’s no new works will enter the public domain in the US until 2019. Notice we say the US here. In countries where the copyright term is life plus 70 years (such as Brazil and EU members) and life plus 50 (including Canada and New Zealand) works did fall into the public domain this year including  great works like The Little Prince and the classic painting “The Scream”.

4. Finding out if some works are in the public domain in the US may still cost you.

Works created between 1923 and 1964 fall into a grey area; they may be in the public domain depending on if their copyright was renewed 28 years from the date of the original copyright. Unfortunately, finding that renewal record will probably cost you. The only official records of renewal are held by the Copyright Office in Washington D.C.  Since, records before January 1, 1978 are not available online; the only way to gain access to these accurate and official records of copyright renewals is to either:

  1. Go to the Copyright office in person, in Washington D.C., and research their records using paper card catalogs OR;
  2. Pay the copyright office $200 an hour to search the copyright records for the original copyright and the renewal notice.

While the copyright office is actively seeking to digitize these records and make them searchable, given the budget cuts the office has faced in the past few years this will likely be a lengthy process.

3. Finding out what is in the public domain doesn’t always have to be hard.

New Media Rights has great guides to help you figure out when something falls into the public domain. We also have a guide that will help you find public domain and openly licensed works to use in your own creative works. We also have several YouTube videos that help answer commonly asked questions about the public domain.

2. You can put your work into the public domain.

Not sure you want your great grandchildren fighting over the rights to your independent film? Maybe you think your research would do more good to the world if folks could do whatever they wanted to do with it? Or maybe you’re worried about your work falling into obscurity? 

Although in the US copyright is granted from the moment of fixation, you can affirmatively put your work in the public domain for free! Although there a few different options for putting your work in the public domain, using the Creative Commons Public Domain Designation is one of the more straightforward ways and you can learn more about that option here!

1. Still have a question about the public domain? That’s what we’re here for!

If you have a question about the public domain you can contact us via our contact form here. You can also sign on to support Copyright Week’s four principles, including the importance of building a robust public domain, through the EFF here.


Value legal services for internet users and creators?  Support them.


Content Types: 

New Media Rights to file comments supporting key Anti-Circumvention exemptions

We're taking part in Copyright Week, a series of actions and discussions supporting key principles that should guide copyright policy. Every day this week, various groups are taking on different elements of the law, and addressing what's at stake, and what we need to do to make sure that copyright promotes creativity and innovation. Today's theme is "Owners Rights" and the upcoming Copyright Anti-Circumvention Exemption Proceeding.

Comments to the Copyright Office's current Anti-Circumvention exemption proceeding are due February 6, 2015.  As in past years (2012, 2009), New Media Rights will be offering direct evidence of the creators and consumers we work with who rely on these exemptions.  Here's a brief preview of our comment.

One thing remains constant in the DMCA Anti-Circumvention exemption proceedings: an enormous output of time and energy by legal clinics, nonprofits, and others every three years in pursuit of broad range of worthy, but narrow exemptions.  Most of these exemptions discuss why a particular use is not otherwise illegal, and should be exempted from violating federal law under the Anti-Circumvention provisions.  We maintain that an elegant way to improve the provisions, and allow otherwise lawful uses without requiring such a tremendous use of resources, is to simply exempt all uses that are otherwise lawful.

In this proceeding we will be specifically arguing for the right of a) remix creators and filmmakers to circumvent technological protection measures to reuse video in fair use, as well as b) the right of  individuals to take control of the apps and services they use on their mobile devices.

Our 2015 comment will support expansions of these recommendations in important ways - including arguing that jailbreaking should also apply to tablets and that the bypassing of anti-circumvention technology should include Blu-Ray, as well as DVD and online sources.

Jailbreaking of smartphones and tablets

Jailbreaking is essential to ensure competition and innovation.  Jailbreaking enables alternative app marketplaces, which provide a safety valve to censorship by OS makers, wireless carriers, and device manufacturers, who use their gatekeeping power to control what apps and services we can access.  In addition, jailbreaking allows for increased customization that allows consumers to address security and privacy concerns instead of being forced to wait for the OS maker to address the issues.  These exemptions would allow consumers to continue to enjoy the benefits of jaibreaking their smartphones to lawful software, and extend these benefits to tablets. 

Accessing video to reuse footage from Blu-Ray, DVDs and online sources

This exemption is meant to allow creators, remixers, and vidders the ability to bypass DVD encryption technology to obtain high quality footage for the videos they create.  The exemption extends only to videos that fall within the bounds of fair use and thus, this exemption is not as broad as many copyright holders argue.  This exemption allows those who create and share videos that reuse existing content to defend themselves under fair use.  Our comment includes the stories of creators who represent the wide array of social, political, and cultural commentary that this exemption would protect.

We also argue that it is necessary to allow circumvention to provide access to higher quality footage, which is both demanded by viewers and necessary to communicate a creator’s message.  Many of the already legal methods to obtain the footage – including screen capture or analog capturing – are deficient. 

As more content becomes available solely online, it becomes more important for internet users and creators to be able to lawfully repurpose and reuse this source of material.  There is an enormous amount of content not currently available on DVD.  To ensure the basic right to post videos regarding current social events or hotly debated political topics, it is essential allow this exemption to legally access the most up-to-date footage.  Having to wait for the material to come to DVD would cause many videos to be stale or wholly irrelevant.

Our comments will also include support for a filmmaking exemption as well as ask for other key expansions in exemptions particularly important to the clients we serve.  In sum, our comment represents our direct experience with numerous individual examples that rely on critical exemptions.  The exemptions will not only benefit consumers and creators, but are in harmony with the spirit, purpose, and law of the Copyright Act.  

Value legal services for internet users and creators?  Support them.


Content Types: 


New Media Rights joins CyberTECH and others for Data Privacy Day 2015

New Media Rights is proud to announce we’ll be joining CyberTECH, Securing Our eCity and leading privacy experts for Data Privacy Day 2015: Securing the Internet of Things Masters on January 28, 2015. This event will bring together security and privacy experts from around the nation to address privacy concerns surrounding the growing Internet of Things to provide a clearer understanding of the perceptions and potential threats that will affect the collection, management and safeguarding of private information about individuals and organizations.

Learn more about Data Privacy Day 2015 and to find additional events near you here.

Value legal services for internet users and creators?  Support them.

Content Types: 

Nick Sabatella

Job Title: 

Clinic Intern

Nick Sabatella works directly with innovative clients as a Law Clerk Intern at New Media Rights.  Before joining New Media Rights, he worked at the US District Court for the Southern District of San Diego as a Judicial Extern for magistrate judge Rueben B. Brooks. Nick has also worked with South Coast Air Quality Management District as a legal intern, and as an intern with a consumer bankruptcy attorney in Pasadena. He is currently writing for California Western School of Law's Law Review and competing with CWSL's Negotiations/ADR team.


Nick's interest in intellectual property law stems from his interest in music, and his desire to help members of his family with their businesses as artists, musicians, graphic designers, web designers and photographers.  


Nick received his undergraduate degree from California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks CA, and is currently in his second year at California Western School of Law. When he is not in the New Media Rights office, he can be found cooking, playing rugby, and going to rock concerts at the House of Blues or sleep train amphitheater.


Brandon Frazier

Job Title: 

Clinic Intern

Joined NMR in: 

January 2015

Brandon Frazier currently works as a Clinical Intern at New Media Rights. Brandon moved to San Diego from Atlanta, Georgia in 2013 to pursue a life-long dream of becoming an attorney. Prior to law school, Brandon attended Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, Alabama. After graduation, he worked for a market research firm, as well as a server and trainer for Hillstone Restaurant Group. Brandon hopes to pursue a legal career in Intellectual Property, specializing in Copyright and Trademark Law. Brandon decided this career path while growing up amongst family and friends, whom are largely creative musicans and designers. In his spare time, Brandon enjoys cooking, wine tasting, and distance running.

Top 5 mistakes startups make with their privacy policies

Privacy policies are a critical pre-launch step for many web based companies. But not all privacy policies are created equal. Here are the top five common mistakes we see startups make with their privacy policies.

5.    The company doesn't have a privacy policy.
Collecting information from your users without a privacy policy is remarkably risky. In some states it may even be illegal depending on the type of website you operate. For example in California, commercial websites that collect personally identifiable user information which includes information that is commonly collected by commercial websites like names, emails and addresses are required to have a privacy policy.  Even if you’re not in a state that requires your website to have a privacy policy, privacy policies are still helpful for setting consumer expectations regarding your use of their data.

4.    The company copy and pasted (insert big companies name here) privacy policy as their own.
While most major companies do employ very good privacy law attorneys to write their privacy policies, these policies are tailored for that company’s specific needs. Copying and pasting their privacy policies as your own use can lead to a whole host of problems. While some problems, like forgetting to replace their business name with your business name, hurt you more from a business and customer trust perspective. Other problems, like making promises to do things you don’t do and can’t actually do (i.e. removing user data in a set period of time), could be legally actionable. So while having a privacy policy is important, it’s even more important to have a privacy policy that fits your company’s specific needs.

3.    The privacy policy violates the privacy laws of the state in which the company is located.
Privacy law is a bit of a moving target and laws vary significantly from state to state. Certain state laws even contradict other states laws. However, as a rule of thumb it’s a very good idea to make sure you comply with any relevant federal privacy laws as well as the privacy laws of the state(s) where your business is located.  If you’re not sure what laws you need to comply with, we highly recommend consulting an attorney in your area.

2.    Consumers can’t find the privacy policy on the website.
It’s not just enough to have a privacy policy that is tailored to your company; your customers also need to be able to find it, understand it, and agree to it. Legal standards can vary as to what kind of notice is sufficient. It’s often a good best practice to make sure your privacy policy is linked (in a working link), in a legible font in the header, footer or other highly visible part of your website.  To ensure your users have agreed to your privacy policy, wherever users will be giving you their personal information it’s a good idea to clearly link to your privacy policy on that form above the send button to ensure that users have a chance to read it before they submit information.

1.    The privacy policy makes a promise the company can’t keep.
The number one rule of writing a good privacy policy is to only make promises you can actually keep. Making promises that sound privacy conscious that you can’t actually keep lulls your users into a false sense of trust and when that trust is broken it can be a PR nightmare. It can also be a legal nightmare. For example, the Federal Trade Commission can bring legal action against companies who misled their users about their privacy practices.

And as important as this rule is, it can also be the hardest to comply with because making truthful statements in your privacy policy doesn’t end with the drafting of your policy. It means making sure you keep that information up to date as your data collection practices change. It means making sure that your marketing and business teams understand what promises the company made so your advertising and business practices are in line with your privacy policy. Unfortunately, lack of communication between these teams is so common it’s become a business cliché.  But despite the cliché, making sure you only make promises you can keep in your privacy policy is the number one rule when it comes to privacy policies and the number one mistake we see startups make when it comes to privacy policies.

Are you making any of these common privacy policy mistakes? Make it your new year’s resolution to get your privacy policy in shape! If you have questions about your privacy policy or privacy law in general, feel free to reach out to New Media Rights via our contact form.

Value legal services for internet users and creators?  Support them.


Content Types: 


Tyler Hicks

Job Title: 

Clinic Intern

Tyler Hicks works directly with innovative clients as a Law Clerk Intern at New Media Rights.  Before joining New Media Rights, he worked for eight years as a legal assistant and paralegal for a law firm in his home state of Louisiana.  His interest in intellectual property law stems from his involvement in numerous federal copyright infringement cases prior to entering law school.

Tyler received his undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University of Shreveport, and is currently in his second year at California Western School of Law.

When he is not at the New Media Rights office, he can be found either scuba diving or volunteering at the St. Vincent De Paul Society in downtown San Diego.

Our 2014 accomplishments!

Whether you’ve joined us as a Student or an Open Internet Defender we're stronger than ever thanks to support from individuals like you!

Please consider joining our community of supporters by making a donation and help us continue to fulfill our mission to:

  • Provide free and dramatically reduced fee one-to-one legal services to underserved creators and innovators that need specialized help with Internet, intellectual property, media, and technology law
  • Defend the Open Internet and push for badly needed copyright reform.
  • Create high quality legal educational materials and to educate the next generation of lawyers.

With your support we’ve done this and more in 2014 by:

In 2015, with your support we plan to:

  • Continuing to provide free and dramatically reduced fee one-to-one legal services to  400+ underserved creators and innovators.
  • Release a ground-breaking new legal educational tool to help creators.
  •  Sponsoring and organizing more than 12 workshops and community events throughout the San Diego region and throughout the United States about digital rights.
  • Working on policy initiatives to encourage the FCC to adopt real Net Neutrality measures.
  • Participating in the Copyright Offices 1201 hearings to make sure creators can access the materials they need to create and we can all make modifications to the technologies we own without risking criminal charges.

Value legal services for internet users and creators?  Support them.

Content Types: 

New Media Rights joins Electronic Frontier Foundation in urging court to reaffirm the denial of a dangerous preliminary injunction in the case of Garcia v Google

New Media Rights has joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, and others in filing an Amicus Brief urging the court to reaffirm the district court’s denial of a dangerous and over reaching injunction that forced Google to take down the controversial "Innocence of Muslims" video while a copyright lawsuit is pending.

Most of our work at New Media Rights is preventative and transactional, focused on helping people avoid legal problems and lengthy court battles before they begin.  In this case, however, we've joined in filing this Amicus Brief because the recent Garcia v Google decision, if not reconsidered, will have negative consequences for free speech that will directly affect the creators and innovators we assist.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit's court's decision required an online service provider, Google, to censor the historical record by removing all copies of the video. The court then added a gag order to its decision preventing Google from talking about the controversial decision for a full week.  The decision contradicted an earlier district court ruling that refused to restrain speech based on a highly debatable copyright claim.

The video in question, "Innocence of Muslims," sparked worldwide protests and debate in the fall of 2012. Actress Cindy Lee Garcia sued claiming she held a copyright in her 5-second performance the film.  Although one can understand Garcia's interest in distancing herself from the film, the reality is copyright law was not the proper legal mechanism to do that. As a result, the court's decision threatens to create sprawling, poorly defined copyright protection in a variety of creative contributors, altering the way that copyright law protects contributions to film and video productions. Moreover, it’s misapplication of the preliminary injunction standard sets a dangerous precedent for online speech and global enforcement of US laws.

New Media Rights joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation, American Civil Liberties Union, Public Knowledge, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries, and the Association of Research Libraries in this brief.

Garcia v. Google Amicus 11.25.14.pdf357.43 KB

Value legal services for internet users and creators?  Support them.


Content Types: 

November Newsletter: Giving Tuesday--Night Owl Edition

New Media Rights


This Giving Tuesday, December 2, New Media Rights is running a one-day, 24-hour fundraiser where your donations will be matched dollar for dollar up to $10,000. So mark your calendar now and please pledge to give now by sending the dollar amount you want to pledge

Without your continued support, we can't do work like like helping local San Diego filmmaker Bill Perrine with his latest documentary film It’s Gonna Blow: San Diego's Music Underground 1986-1996.

Your donations help ensure we have the resources to reach a wide variety of clients to provide critical legal services, like the services we provided to Bill.
This year, we have a unique opportunity to double your impact to New Media Rights on Giving Tuesday. But there’s a catch. We’ll be competing will all of the other wonderful programs at California Western School of Law for that $10,000 match on a first come, first matched basis.
That means in order to maximize your impact we are asking
donors to give at 12:00am PST on December 2nd. As an added bonus, the first person to make a donation on Giving Tuesday at the Open Internet Defender Level or above will get a T-shirt from Bill Perrine’s latest documentary, It’s Gonna Blow.

Steps to help us rock Giving Tuesday:
Step 1:Pledge to give now by sending the dollar amount you want to pledge
Step 2 Click here to add a reminder to your calendar to give to New Media Rights on Giving Tuesday or join the facebook event!
Step 3: Don't forget to give on Giving Tuesday!
But wait?!? Why Should you give on Giving Tuesday?
By giving on Giving Tuesday, you can double your impact, and help us to do more great work like the work we did this year.
Thanks to your continued support we:

See a full list of our accomplishments for the year and our exciting plans for next year here!

All the best,

Art Neill, Teri Karobonik, and the New Media Rights team


Value legal services for internet users and creators?  Support them.


Content Types: