Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Patent Office is also broken

As people are starting to understand, the US Copyright Office is broken. I learned about this first-hand when Edward Einhorn sued me for producing my own play.

He was able to create a federal copyright lawsuit because he was allowed to get away with filing a prohibited unauthorized derivative copyright on my play TAM LIN because the Copyright Office does not demand proof of authorization.

Then even though a US federal court judge declared that Einhorn's copyright was not substantive enough, was filed fraudulently AND was unauthorized, the US Copyright Office has thus far not removed his copyright registration from its database. Here it is.

Now if Edward Einhorn can get away with this, anybody can get away with it. Because as far as I am aware, the Copyright Office still does not require proof of authorization.

And as this week's This American Life makes clear, the US Patent and Trademark Office is also broken - and is being used for shakedown scams.

Einhorn claimed that his lawsuit was all about his "getting paid for his work" but actually suing Mergatroyd Productions for producing TAM LIN in 2005 had nothing to do with Mergatroyd Productions hiring Edward Einhorn to direct TAM LIN in 2004.

Instead of negotiating with my ex-partner Jonathan Flagg over his director's work-for-hire payment for 2004 - or even going to small claims court since the disagreement was over a thousand dollars, he trumped up this copyright lawsuit. (The judge agreed with Jonathan that Einhorn did not deserve $1000 either and granted him $800. Jonathan was going to offer $500. A difference of $300.) Einhorn lives off of an inheritance, unlike Jonathan who has to work for every cent he gets.

From the transcript of Einhorn v. Mergatroyd Productions:

JUDGE KAPLAN: So this was a hold-up, straight and simple, right?

EINHORN: No. Of course not.

JUDGE KAPLAN: You went to your brother, the lawyer, who was representing you for nothing, to send a demand letter saying pay me $2000 or the show can't go on. That's the sum and substance of your case, isn't it?

And like I said, unless the Copyright Office is reformed, it could happen to any American writer. Soon American writers could be screwed the way American software companies are currently screwed.