Amy M. Lavine – Apologies to all the monkeys and ghosts out there, but copyrights are for humans

The law is pretty settled nowadays that copyright protection only attaches to works of art created by human beings. PETA tried to test this rule recently when it filed litigation claiming that a monkey who used a photographer’s camera to take a selfie was entitled to copyright in the image, rather than the photographer, who merely supplied the camera. Despite the arguments about sentience and simian creativity, however, the court ultimately ruled that the U.S. copyright system simply wasn’t created with any intention of protecting non-human works of art.

Amy M Lavine

Ghosts are also ineligible for copyright protection. The issue might seem silly today, but a serious legal conundrum back in 1917 asked whether Mark Twain’s ghost should get the copyright for a novel it allegedly transcribed via Ouija board, Jap Herron, or whether the copyright properly belonged to the deceased Mark Twain’s estate. The ghost transcriptionist and/or the actual author of the book eventually decided to pull the book from publication rather than risk losing in court, so unfortunately the court didn’t get a chance to discuss the copyright implications of immortality.

Amy M Lavine is an attorney, writer, and entrepreneur based in Hudson, NY. As the owner of Sketch Stationery, which designs and produces paper goods with a focus on local artists and historic images of the Hudson Valley, Lavine takes a keen interest in copyright law and its application to two-dimensional works.



Amy M. Lavine on zoning law and the Second Amendment

Amy M Lavine

The March 2016 edition of the Zoning and Planning Law Report contains an article by Amy M Lavine on zoning and the Second Amendment. The article, In the Zone of Fire: Land Use Restrictions for Shooting Ranges, Gun Dealers, and Similar Uses, discusses the Supreme Court’s recent gun control decisions and their impact on municipalities attempting to regulate the use of property for shooting ranges and gun dealerships. It also discusses more typical zoning issues that arise with local gun control laws, such as special permit requirements, zoning district prohibitions, and state law preemption.

As Lavine explains in the article, although zoning can help ensure that firearms-related property uses comply with local land use policies, municipalities must be careful to avoid unduly restricting the right to bear arms in violation of the Second Amendment, and they must also respect restrictions on firearms regulations contained in state zoning and gun control laws. Despite these legal considerations, however, Lavine concludes that “gun control has emerged as an increasingly important public concern, and zoning provides an effective opportunity for local governments to proactively manage the development of shooting ranges, gun dealers, and other firearms-related land uses.”

Amy M Lavine

Amy M Lavine is an attorney based in Hudson, NY. She has written extensively about zoning, eminent domain, and other state and local government law issues for publications such as Salkin’s  and the Urban Lawyer. Lavine is also an artist and entrepreneur and currently owns Sketch Hudson, an art supply and stationery retailer.