All of this serves to remake Kirby Ferguson’s point with his ‘Everything is a Remix’ series: while established content IP holders like to treat remix as near piracy, mimicry has always existed (good thing) but without attribution (bad thing), especially among Hollywood’s own practitioners.
So let’s move the ball forward. What if instead of considering any of these examples ‘ripoffs’, we treated this imagery (the framing of a shot, the pace of movement) the same way that hip hop treats samples and beats?
If the imagery is effective in conveying a particular thought or emotion, why not allow that as a building block of ‘content’?
Use of Brands In Video Games Is Free Speech—EA Lawsuit
In a new lawsuit, Electronic Arts (NSDQ: ERTS) says free speech rights permit it to use brand name helicopters in the hit gameBattlefield 3. The case is part of a trend in which video game makers are pushing the bounds of trademark law to make their games more realistic.
In its latest claim, EA is asking a California court to declare that its use of Bell helicopters is a form of artistic expression protected by the First Amendment. It claims the helicopters help depict realistic combat in Battlefield 3, a game set in 2014 in which players can command US soldiers in Paris, New York and Tehran to stop an impending nuclear attack.
EA filed the lawsuit after aviation company Textron Inc warned that it would take legal action over trademarks for the AH-1Z, UH-1Y and V-22 Bell helicopters.
The case follows a similar suit last year in which an Indiana company sued EA for using the word “Derringer” to describe Tommy Guns in its Godfather video game franchise. A court sided with EA, and ruled that artistic expression trumped the company’s trademark rights…
The video game cases show how rights of creative expression have recently been trumping intellectual property rights which, in other industries, seem to be constantly expanding.
Apple’s lawyers have a fearsome reputation for defending the company’s intellectual property. But it sure looks like they’re bluffing in the controversy over a new Steve Jobs doll.
A UK newspaper caused a stir yesterday when it reported that Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) had threatened legal action against a Chinese company that plans to sell an eerie replica of its late founder starting next month. The Daily Telegraph said Apple claims to own rights to Jobs’ likeness…
Dead or not, Steve Jobs is still huge news and the story went viral. Media outlets, noting that Apple had stopped the release of another Jobs doll in 2010, reported the story as a warning to other companies who would dare appropriate the property of mighty Apple.
But there is a huge problem here—Apple’s legal claim is largely bogus. While people can indeed own rights to their likeness, those rights usually apply only to living people. Unlike other forms of intellectual property like patents or copyrights, image rights do not survive beyond the grave in most places.
Under American law, so-called “personality rights” exist only at the state level—there is no federal law. And only about a dozen states recognize image rights after death. Oddly, it is Indiana that has the strongest protection, restricting commercial use of a person’s image for 100 years after their passing.
But in New York and most other places, there is no protection at all. This was confirmed five years when a court in the state found that no one had the exclusive right to market Marilyn Monroe. Efforts to change the law have so far failed.
What this means is that Apple’s warning about the doll is an empty threat in most places. It may not even be able to stop others from using the name Steve Jobs as, surprisingly, the term does not appear on the company’s long list of registered trademarks.
As we wrote Monday, SOPA gives large copyright holders such as music labels and movie studios the power to take down Web sites by sending notices to Internet Service Providers and e-commerce payment processors.
Simply, the law gives copyright holder the power to determine what infringes and what doesn’t infringe without any oversite, judicial or otherwise.
You would think with such sweeping changes under consideration, the Judiciary Committee would want to hear multiple arguments and perspectives from different sides of the issue.
What could have been an opportunity for the committee to hear from a variety of stakeholders has devolved into parade of pro-SOPA partisans. Scheduled to testify are representatives from the Register of Copyrights, Pfizer Global Security, the Motion Picture Association of America, the AFL-CIO, and Mastercard Worldwide—many of which helped to draft this legislation in the first place, and didn’t let anyone else into the room. The only scheduled witness in opposition to the bill is Katherine Oyama, policy counsel on copyright and trademark law for Google.
Image: A screen overlay provided by AmericanCensorship.org that allows Web site operators to express their opposition to SOPA. Instructions for adding it to your site are here.