For several years, Michael Feloney used his neighbor Robert Baye’s driveway to turn his vehicle to enter his garage. Eventually Baye decided to build a retaining wall on his driveway, which prevented Feloney from using Baye’s driveway. Feloney sued Baye, requesting the district court to impose a prescriptive easement on Baye’s driveway for ingress and egress. The district court granted summary judgment for Baye, concluding (1) Feloney’s use of the driveway was permissive under the “unenclosed land” rule, which provides an exception to the rule presuming adverseness when the use is over unenclosed land; and (2) thus Feloney could not prove the elements required for a prescriptive easement. The Supreme Court affirmed but for different reasons, holding (1) the presumption of permissiveness arises when the land is unenclosed wilderness and does not apply in urban settings such as in this case; (2) when the owner of a property has opened or maintained a right of way for his own use and the claimant’s use appears to be in common with that use, the presumption arises that the use is permissive; and (3) Feloney’s use of Baye’s driveway was presumptively permissive under this rationale.
A few weeks ago, a friend at Justia celebrated his birthday. And, you know how it goes. There’s a cake involved and everyone sings that special unique song known for that occasion: “Happy Birthday.” Well, it turns out that the Happy Birthday song is copyrighted. So, for any reproduction, one must ask for permission from the copyright holder or pay a licensing fee.
Now that the holidays are coming, I started wondering about the copyright status of several of the popular songs that we hear everywhere we go during the month of December. If you like to take holiday videos and share them with your family and friends on the web, you should be aware that since January 2009, YouTube has been silencing videos with copyrighted music. So, you cannot just add any song to give your video a touch of holiday spirit.
One of the pro bono projects we’ve been able to work on here at Justia is the Stanford Fair Use & Copyright site. For those of you who may not be familiar with it, the site is a terrific resource for anyone interested in learning more about copyright in general, as well as for researchers more focused on exploring issues related to the fair use of copyrighted materials. We frequently update the site, so we encourage even those of you who may already be familiar with it to stop by and check it out!