Copyright and Social Media: What Does it Meme?

By Maya Fe Holzhauer

Internet memes, pictures with juxtaposed text which evolve through imitation, reproduction, and mutation, have become a widespread phenomenon with millions of memes being created and shared daily. Memes influence modern communication and culture, and are used as a form of entertainment, as business and marketing tools, and as a method for making social commentary. The ease with which memes can be created and shared has led to a vibrant social internet culture. Meme creators are usually not the copyright owners in the underlying work: surprisingly, however, there has been little litigation on this issue. This article examines why legal claims based on copyright infringement are unlikely to succeed in the meme context….

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The Case against Nathan Carman: Death, Dynasty, and the Distribution of Wealth under the New Hampshire Slayer Rule

By Jennifer Cullinane

On July 17, 2017, the Chakalos sisters petitioned a New Hampshire probate court to declare their nephew, Nathan Carman, their father’s murderer. Just days before Christmas in the winter of 2013, 87 year-old John Chakalos was found dead from multiple gunshot wounds in his Connecticut home. His grandson, Carman, was the last person to see him alive. Contending their father’s sudden death “froze his estate plan at a time when it was structured to provide millions of dollars for [Carman’s] benefit,” the Chakalos sisters claim that Carman murdered his grandfather to prevent changes to the estate plan and to accelerate his inheritance. Pursuing a “slayer” action against the person they believe killed their father, the sisters requested that the court declare Carman “committed this heinous act out of malice and greed” and impose a constructive trust over the portion of the estate that would otherwise flow to his benefit. Rarely seen in New Hampshire probate courts, such a claim stands not only to captivate an audience hungry for scandal but also to shape New Hampshire jurisprudence. The law underlying their action is simple. A “slayer rule” requires “[a]n individual who feloniously and intentionally kills the decedent” to “forfeit[] all benefits . . . with respect to the decedent’s estate[.]” A reflection of the common law maxim that a wrongdoer should not profit from his wrongful act, the American slayer rule aims to preserve the testator’s unspoken intent – that no victim would want their killer to benefit by virtue of their death....

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Statutorily Stifling: The Legal Burden Copyright Places on the Hip-hop Community

By Alvin Benjamin Carter III

This paper will look at how the art of sampling music from one recording and using it to create a new musical work is stigmatized by statute. Artists who engage in this art form must rely on the often-situational defenses of fair use and the recent resurgence of the de minimis exception proffered in the Ninth Circuit’s decision in VMG Salsoul, LLC v. Ciccone which creates a split with the Sixth Circuit’s decision in Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Dimension Films. The technique of sampling is used in many genres, but the risk of litigation is potentially crippling to many hip-hop artists and producers who may not have the resources to mount a defense, much less pay the statutory damages for infringement which range from $750–$150,000 per infringement . . .

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