Copyright Multiple Choice


In this post you will find a handful of multiple choice exam questions from prior years. The questions are reproduced here completely. 

Test your might! 


QUESTION:  Recording artist and bad boy Chris Brown is a closet manga addict. Manga are comics created in Japan, typically by Japanese artists, in a style developed in the late 1800's. Adapting to post-Beatles era music industry economics, Brown has released the majority of his music in the digital single format, including his release of Zero on September 18, 2015. In the images below, the cover art for Chris Brown's single appears on the left. On the right is a sketch from Tsukasa Hojo's classic manga City Hunter, which follows the exploits of a private detective and his womanizing associate (depicted below).

depicted below). Which of the following causes of action is Chris Brown most likely to be found liable of, following a trial on the merits?

  • A.  Copyright Infringement - Striking Similarity
  • B.  Copyright Infringement - Fragmented Literal Similarity
  • C.  Passing-off
  • D.  Reverse Passing-off
  • E.  Likelihood of Confusion

The following fact pattern applies to Multiple Choice Questions 8-10:

"Huge Wave" by Paul Gillard, licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 2.0), no changes. Click image for license.

"Huge Wave" by Paul Gillard, licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 2.0), no changes. Click image for license.

In 2012, playwright Jamie keeling sought to barter off of an inexplicable renewed interest in the career of Keanu Reeves by preparing a version of his film Point Break for the theater. The new play was titled Point Break: Live ("PBL"). Keeling, not discouraged by serveral unsuccessful attempts to secure licensing from the owners of the original film, Paramount Pictures, went ahead with the production. Obviously aware of the project and Keeling's intent, Paramount Pictures immediately filed suit after the first night of the stage production. The court issues the following findings of fact, describing PBL as follows:

  • The play relies exclusively on plot elements from Point Break;
  • PBL relies exclusively on protected dialogue from Paramount's screenplay;
  • In the movie, Keanu Reeves must risk his life diving into a pool, blind-folded, to pick up bricks; in PBL the pool is a kiddie pool;
  • Massive waves in the movie are replaced with squirt guns in PBL;
  • Rather than casting a lead and in order to recreate Reeves's poor acting, PBL begins each performance by selecting, at random, a member of the audience and requiring that individual to perform off of cue cards for the duration of the play; and
  • Keeling replicates the original soundtrack of Point Break with $20 Casio keyborads during performances of PBL.

QUESTION 8:  Which of the following will be most beneficial to Keeling in her defense?

  • A.  The abstractions and filtration test
  • B.  Expert testimony that PBL is transformative
  • C.  The fact that the majority of the film relies on scenes-a-faire
  • D.  The doctrine of fair use

QUESTION 9:  What licenses must Keeling make sure she has before PBL is performed for audiences in New York's most prestigious theater, Baloneys?

  1. Performance License
  2. Mechanical License
  3. Trademark License
  4. Name and Likeness License (from Keanu Reeves)
  5. Synchronization License
  6. Master Use License
  • A.  1, 4, 5, and 6
  • B.  1 only
  • C. 3, 4, and 6
  • D. Keeling needs all of the licenses

QUESTION 10:  As home theaters become increasingly inexpensive and capable of recreating the look and feel of the cinema experience of yore, Regal Entertainment Group ("Regal") has seen a sharp reduction in profits year over year since 2010. In an effort to curb the trend, it introduced high-quality broadcasting of one-of-a-kind live events in its theaters. Amy Miles, the CEO of Regal, saw the first production of PBL and believes it has promise as one such event to be simultaneously broadcast ("simul-cast") in Regal theaters throughout the United States. Miles enters into a contract with Keeling allowing Regal to record the next performance and simul-cast it in 100 Regal theaters with a 10-second delay. What licenses must Miles make sure she has before a single person can view PBL in a Regal Theater?

  1. Performance License
  2. Mechanical License
  3. Trademark License
  4. Name and Likeness License (from Keanu Reeves)
  5. Synchronization License
  6. Master Use License
  • A.  1 only
  • B.  2, 3, and 6
  • C.  5 and 6
  • D.  1, 2, and 5

QUESTION:  Judge Learned Hand's "abstractions test" is most closely related to which of the following doctrines of copyright law?

  • The Doctrine of Non-Discrimination
  • The First Sale Doctrine
  • the Doctrine of Fair Use
  • The Scenes-a-faire Doctrine

QUESTION:  DJ Earworm is an independent electronic music artist. Every year, at the end of the year, DJ Earworm looks at the Billboard Top 40 charts to determine which songs were the most popular during the previous 12-month period. After he determines--through his own proprietary formula--which songs defined popular music for the prior year, DJ Earworm samples melodies, beats, vocal lines, bridges, intros, outros, and other popular elements of a song and creates a mash-up called "United State of Pop." In 2013, DJ Earworm produced the track United State of Pop 2013 (Living the Fantasy) which featured, according to Mr. Earworm, "25 of the biggest hits during 2013 in the U.S." The mash-up included original elements found in:

  • Avicii feat. Aloe Blacc - Wake Me Up
  • Bruno Mars - When I was Your Man
  • Daft Punk feat. Pharrel Williams - Get Lucky
  • Imagine Dragons - Radioactive
  • Justin Timberlake feat. Jay-Z - Suit & Tie
  • and many, many more!

Can these artists sue DJ Earworm for copyright infringement, and, if so, under what theory?

  • A.  Yes, under the theory of substantial similarity to the prior works
  • B.  Yes, under the theory of fragmented literal similarity to the prior works
  • C.  Yes, under the theory of striking similarity to the prior works
  • D.  No, because DJ Earworm's mash-up constitutes a joint work between himself and the artists of the tracks he used; each has an equal right to exploit United State of Pop 2013 (Living the Fantasy)

QUESTION:  Weird Al Yankovic samples from United State of Pop 2013 (Living the Fantasy) in his newest parody Fugue State of Pop (Identity Crisis Reality). In an interview Yankovic states,

"I have spent my entire career studying, deconstructing, and reproducing pop music in order to convey my particular variety of comedy. It has become clear to me that in the last decade, the pop formula is so limited that, with very few exceptions, all music in the Billboard Top 40 charts is nearly identical in terms of key, tempo, and song structure. DJ Earworm's mashup provided me with the quintessential vehicle for exploring and commenting on this phenomenon."

Bruno Mars, a long-time mentee of Coolio, convinces his record label to sue DJ Earworm and Weird Al Yankovic for copyright infringement. Earworm and Yankovic both raise the affirmative defense of fair use. The court issues the following findings of fact:

  1. The Bruno Mars sample, used once in the 5:12 track, constitutes approximately 2% of United State of Pop 2013 (Living the Fantasy);
  2. DJ Earworm used a portion of the chorus of When I Was Your Man specifically:  "Mmmmm, too young too dumb to realize";
  3. The sample of When I Was Your Man is only the vocal line, or "a capella";
  4. When I Was Your Man was released nine months prior to the release of United State of Pop 2013 (Living the Fantasy);
  5. DJ Earworm released United State of Pop 2013 (Living the Fantasy) as a YouTube video preceded by a three minute advertisement for Shamwow!;
  6. Weird Al Yankovic sampled the instrumental and rhythm sections of United State of Pop 2013 (Living the Fantasy), but did not sample any of the vocals;
  7. Weird Al Yankovic's Fugue State of Pop (Identity Crisis Reality) included the lyrics "Mmmmm, too old and megalomaniacal to realize";
  8. Weird Al Yankovic sings his lyrics with a melody identical to that of Bruno Mars's when singing "Mmmmm, too young too dumb to realize." The melody is comprised of two notes repeatedly sung in a rhythm commonly found in music dating back to the early 1900s; and
  9. Weird Al Yankovic distributed his song through YouTube without any advertisements.

What is the most likely outcome following a trial?

  • A.  Earworm and Yankovic are each liable for copyright infringement
  • B.  Earworm is liable for copyright infringement, but prevails on a majority of fair use factors; Yankovic is liable for copyright infringement
  • C.  Earworm is liable for copyright infringement; Yankovic is not liable for copyright infringement
  • D.  Earworm and Yankovic both prevail on a majority of fair use factors