GGU Law Student Links Intellectual Property Law with Food Pics on Instagram

You know you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area when copyright protection and food obsession come together in an academic paper. The paper, by Venus Ho, a third-year law student in GGU School of Law’s Intellectual Property (IP) program, recently won a prize in a student writing competition at the University of New Hampshire.

Venus Ho (’17)

It begins with this scenario: It’s Friday night, and you’re out for dinner at your favorite restaurant. The food comes, looking “so delicious and well-plated that you take photos of the food and your friends with your cell phone.” You upload the photos to Instagram and a few days later, your pictures are everywhere, printed on flyers promoting the restaurant. But you haven’t given your permission—and you’re upset.

The paper criticizes the US Copyright Office’s 2015 proposal as an attempt resolving the problem of “copyright protection for orphaned works” — meaning works whose creator is either unknown or unfound. Ho explains that, in the digital age, this is an increasingly common problem. Her solution: the US Copyright Office should establish a database of orphaned photos and a clearinghouse to collect modest licensing fees from anyone who wants to use an orphaned photo. Then, if the creator steps forward, he or she will be able to earn some compensation for the use of their work.

Ho, who was born in Hong Kong and raised in Toronto, did photography as a hobby during her undergraduate studies and has always been interested in the arts. Studying IP law has been a great way to combine her two great interests: the law and the arts. For her, GGU Law’s small size and the connections her professors and students have with movers and shakers in the legal and creative communities has made her legal education rewarding.

Her next goal: Pass the California and Texas Bar Exams and work at a firm that specializes in IP law.

Learn more about GGU’s School of Law programs >>

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