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Mark B. Saku

  • Intellectual Property, Trademarks, Entertainment & Sports Law...
  • Washington
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Summary

Mark B. Saku, Esq. is a Seattle-based attorney whose practice focuses on copyright and trademark law and the protection of intellectual property in the the entertainment and new media industries. Mark received his J.D. from Seattle University School of Law with a focus in Intellectual Property. Mark's work commonly involves content and media licensing, business development, copyright and trademark law. Some of his recent work covered: contract negotiation involving media distribution and music publishing; legal counsel in the use of copyrighted images in live performances; and legal assistance in the development and negotiation of small business development and content licensing.

Practice Areas
  • Intellectual Property
  • Trademarks
  • Entertainment & Sports Law
  • Communications & Internet Law
Fees
  • Free Consultation
    Free 30-minute initial consultations (by phone only).
  • Credit Cards Accepted
  • Rates, Retainers and Additional Information
    flat-fee rates available for certain applicable legal services.
Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice
Washington
Languages
  • English: Spoken, Written
  • German: Spoken, Written
Education
Seattle University School of Law
J.D. (2006) | intellectual property, copyright, trademark, IP Licensing
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Honors: Golden Gavel Award Recipient; Seattle University Moot Court Board Northwest Regional Finalist; Frederick Douglass Moot Court Board Competition 1L Minority Clerkship Recipient; Seattle University/University of Washington
Activities: President; Seatlle University Entertainment and Sports Law Association (ESLA) Member; Seattle University Moot Court Board Member; Black Law Student Association (BLSA)
Professional Associations
Washington State Bar Association # 38987
Member
Current
The Copyright Society of the USA, NW Chapter
member; social media director
- Current
Washington Lawyers for the Arts
featured member
- Current
The Recording Academy, NW Chapter
member
- Current
The Copyright Society of the USA
Chair; NW Chapter
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Legal Answers
6 Questions Answered

Q. Legal use of celebrities's photo in my film
A: Use of a celebrities image (whether drawn or photographed) may give right to publicity rights claims, depending on the jurisdiction of use. Many states, including CA and NY have state law protecting the rights of individuals to control the use of their name and likeness. Some of these laws even extend to the celebrity's heirs. There are "fair use" defenses available for violations of this right, but they are fact-specific and you should speak to legal counsel to assess your situation prior to using the image in a film. Regarding the book cover, copyright law does not protect titles, but it could extend to the images on the cover. Sometimes the use of images in a film are considered incidental and not substantial enough to give rise to a claim. However, if the book is prominently mentioned or displayed, you could subject yourself to a claim of unauthorized display. Again, seek legal counsel with experience with copyright law to assess and clear your use prior to distributing your work to the public. DISCLAIMER: Please note that this answer is not a solicitation, does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship with myself or the Law Office of Mark B. Saku PLLC. This answer should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and a lawyer should always be sought out directly when a legal question arises.
Q. Is it illegal to watch movies online? Without downloading anything.
A: Watching itself does not constitute copyright infringement. Using a reference to a colleague who previous used this example, you are not infringing copyright by watching a band perform cover songs on stage. However, copyright infringement in the United States is a strict liability offense. Meaning, that a user is liable when they illegally copy works, even if they're not aware that this is wrong, or that the work is protected by copyright. Watching a film online, via download or streaming, would constitute infringement because your computer is making copies of the copyrighted material. Via streaming, (if this is indeed the method of viewing), you computer is copying the video files (albeit temporarily in "cache") for purposes of near-simultaneous viewing. However, on 5 June 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that streaming illegal content online is legal in Europe, and the most recent US case law refers to either file-sharers (who download) or the host sites (for contributory or secondary infringement). So, this not to say that streaming movies online is legal. It just hasn't yet been decided and most of the effort is directed towards the hosting sites and not individual users. There is still much debate, so to be safe, you should probably stick with mainstream sites like Netflix and Hulu who have license agreements and procedures in place to secure their right to store and distribute the copyrighted content. DISCLAIMER: Please note that this answer is not a solicitation, does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship with myself or the Law Office of Mark B. Saku PLLC. This answer should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and a lawyer should always be sought out directly when a legal question arises.
Q. Copyright for a song
A: Works published before the end of 1923 are most likely in the public domain - which means that you do not need permission from the original (or current) copyright owner to sample the song. If the work was originally published outside the US, or if the song was published after 1923, different rules apply, you may still need permission from the current copyright owner (or the heirs of the original author). It would be a good idea to have a copyright attorney investigate the specific song just to make sure the fact support a public domain claim. DISCLAIMER: Please note that this answer is not a solicitation, does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship with myself or the Law Office of Mark B. Saku PLLC. This answer should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and a lawyer should always be sought out directly when a legal question arises.
Q. Are there copyrights on creating art based on films
A: Yes, you will have a copyright claim to your work. However, creative works based on previous works are considered a "derivative work" and require the permission of the original copyright owner before registration, distribution or pubic display/performance of the subsequent work. There are exceptions or defenses to an infringement claim in the event you are challenged, however, the defenses are very fact specific and you should speak to an experienced copyright attorney who can assess whether your situation qualifies. DISCLAIMER: Please note that this answer is not a solicitation, does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship with myself or the Law Office of Mark B. Saku PLLC. This answer should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and a lawyer should always be sought out directly when a legal question arises.
Q. Can a kids theatre company write their own version of a Disney production and use it as a camp for kids?
A: Most likely no. A creative work based on a previously created work is known as a "derivative work" and requires the permission of the original copyright holder in order to distribute or publicly perform the subsequent work. There are exceptions available, (and maybe some defenses to copyright infringement claims), but with Disney, you probably want to be very careful and have an attorney review your production every step of the way. A knowledgeable attorney would be able to advise how to best structure and protect your derivative creation in order to avoid the legal hassle that likely await. DISCLAIMER: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship with myself or Mark Saku Law, PLLC. This answer should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and a lawyer should always be sought out directly when a legal question arises.
Q. I own 50% copyright for a biography. I want to write a novel based on that material. What do I pay his heirs?
A: Fair compensation really depends on what the heirs will charge you for use of the person's "name and likeness" as the subject in your novel/film. Depending on your jurisdiction, the heirs may also have the right to prevent circulation of your novel/film without their express permission. Copyright law will probably not be involved in this situation unless you were to use specific portions from the original (50% owned) biography. If this is the case, you will need to account to the other half owner for revenues and expenses. I would consult a local attorney who can reference whether your state has a law recognizing publicity rights, and whether extend to someone's heirs. DISCLAIMER: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship with myself or Mark Saku Law, PLLC. This answer should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and a lawyer should always be sought out directly when a legal question arises.
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Mark Saku Law PLLC
92 Lenora Street
Seattle, WA 98121
USA
Telephone: (206) 855-5558