Here are a few of my favorite things: Nintendo, Penny Arcade, The Legend of Zelda, Mario, Pokemon, Harvest Moon, Fallout, Dungeons and Dragons, books, dice, Professor Layton, Shadow of the Colossus, Minecraft, and so much more. I'm going to talk a lot about video games, I sincerely hope you don't mind.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Copyright/Trademark bullies - I thought bullying stopped after highschool?

Everyone likes to share. We want our friends and families to see the things that we like, and it's always exciting to introduce music/movies/TV/books to the new people in our lives. The internet has made sharing a whole lot easier (much to the chagrin of every copyright holder in the world), and as a result the digital age is bubbling with aggressive copyright and trademark holders.

It's not unreasonable to want to protect our creations; they are valuable, unique, and people deserve their credit and the right to make a profit from what belongs to them. However, the levels of sanity begin to hastily run down the drain when people and companies steamroll anyone who comes "too close" (subjective term) to their intellectual properties.

Not sure if you're even upset about it? Sue anyway.
photo courtesy of gizmodo

There are so many ambiguities surrounding fair use, derivative works, and what is considered a parody (in a court of law it's the judges final say, if I read the rules correctly); so it's no real surprise that harmless ventures quickly come under heavy fire and legal battles from companies who feel that their copyrights and trademarks are being infringed upon.

I believe there's a point where the protection actions turn completely insane, and the companies seem interested in stamping out all fun, freedom and artistic expression; this is more than just protecting their copyrights.

They aim to take away all fun, art, as well as ice cream and dogs. Those monsters.
found from a lovely person on flickr named wishnow

Most recently I encountered this absurd gem: Chick-Fil-A threatens guy who made "Eat More Kale" shirts. Just to make sure everyone is on the same page, the chicken sandwich chain Chick-Fil-A has, as their mascots, cows holding signs that say "Eat Mor Chikin'". The company is apparently claiming that his shirts emblazoned with the phrase "Eat More Kale" infringes on their trademark phrase. The guy, who's name is Bo, started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to create a documentary as he fights back. Happily, he reached his goal! I'll be interested to see where this goes.

Donald Trump tried to trade mark "You're Fired" and Paris Hilton did the same with "That's Hot". They're such short, common, simple strings of words, that the idea is just ridiculous. After reading up on copyrighting and trademarking it really doesn't seem like they qualify for such things.

Even useful, hyper simplified charts don't cover all possible scenarios.
photo courtesy of erik j heels

Copyright and trademark definitions, and what is determined legal and illegal, contains (sometimes intentionally) ambiguous wording. Is it possible that the time has come to update the rules? The internet has changed the way we consume music, movies and TV for better or for worse. I know so few people who still pay for cable TV; the majority of my circle of friends use services such at Netflix or Hulu for their TV needs. The ease of access to information and subsequent ease of distribution really is screaming for a reworking of the system.

The laws of simpler days no longer fit into today's living standards, especially the way we access information. It would be nice if companies didn't want to be trademark and copyright bullies, that they could realize a small business selling a handful of t-shirts is no actual threat to their Fortune 500 company. At least Bo spelled all of his words correctly.

Do you know of someone who is dealing with trademark/copyright bullying? Trademark Bully wants to know. And, only loosely related, but this?! seriously?! The Belgian copyright society wants royalties paid to them for the volunteers that read books aloud to children. *rageface*



Copyright law is definitely an ever increasing problem. Not just because of the outdated law, but also due to the abuses that are made by copyright holders (ahem, Universal Media Group). Trademark Bully looks to be a great resource, thanks for the share!

The abuses are ridiculous. The more research I did the more instances I found that made me angry.

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