Posts tagged as:

fans as infringers

“A Chief Illiniwek performance planned for homecoming weekend has been postponed indefinitely after the University of Illinois threatened legal sanction.” [Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette] Update: sponsors plan to proceed anyway.

September 21 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 21, 2010

  • Facing four harassment claims, embattled Philadelphia housing chief files his own suit for $600K+ [Inquirer]
  • “Ohio State Abuses Trademark Law to Suppress a Fan Magazine and Website” [Paul Alan Levy, CL&P]
  • “Judge Dismisses Baltimore Blight Suit Against Wells Fargo, Will Allow Refiling” [ABA Journal]
  • Trial lawyer taking behind-the-scenes hand in Louisiana politics [OpenSecrets via Tapscott]
  • “Are hedge funds abusing bankruptcy?” [Felix Salmon and WSJ]
  • North Carolina alienation-of-affection law strikes again: “’Mistress Ordered to Pay $5.8 Million’ to Wronged Wife” [Volokh, Althouse]
  • “Lawyers take a haircut on a contingency fee in Colorado” [Legal Ethics Forum]
  • ADA lawsuits close another beloved eatery [Stockton, Calif.; six years ago on Overlawyered]

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Unauthorized use of “Who Dat?” and a fleur-de-lis. [Peter Finney, Times-Picayune/NOLA] More: and a cartoon.


Two Chicago grocery store chains, Jewel and Dominick’s, bought full-page ads in “a special commemorative issue of Sports Illustrated magazine dedicated to [Michael] Jordan and his career”. The ads saluted the Chicago Bulls great for his achievements. Jordan proceeded to sue them for trademark infringement. [Chicago Breaking Sports, Tactical IP via Legal Satyricon]


The famous maker of candies and candy-dispensers is suing the owners of the Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia in Northern California, claiming that its venture into Pez homage, which includes a Guinness-record largest replica of a Pez dispenser, infringe the firm’s trademarks and “deceive the public into thinking that the museum is operating under the authority of Pez.” [San Mateo County Times via Doctor Popular/Laughing Squid and BoingBoing] On Pez’s jealousy of its name, see this 1999 post; more on fans-as-infringers here.

More: Ron Coleman is being disrespectful (“You can’t handle a real Pez museum”); Brian Baxter, AmLaw Daily.


…many commentators, and indeed, many fans themselves, operate on the rueful assumption that fan fiction does in fact infringe copyright.

Undaunted by this, Rebecca Tushnet, a professor of law at Georgetown University, and a keen fan fiction writer herself, wants to take fan fiction out of the legal shadows where it has operated, more or less at sufferance, for decades, and carve out a legal place for it within the US doctrine of fair use. She has recently helped found the Organization for Transformative Use, with the mandate to establish fan fiction within the parameters of legal, non-infringing use.

(Grace Westcott, “Friction over Fan Fiction”, Literary Review of Canada, Jul./Aug., via A&L Daily; our posts on fans as infringers).


Update: BBC backs off

by Walter Olson on May 17, 2008

From its pursuit of the knitting-pattern Doctor Who fan. (Telegraph, May 17; earlier).

“A Doctor Who fan who gave away knitting patterns which created vague recreations of the programme’s aliens has been threatened with legal action by the BBC for copyright infringement.” (Andy Bloxham, Daily Telegraph, May 14). More: Times Online.

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The famous author testified in a Manhattan courtroom in her case against RDR Books, publisher of a “Harry Potter Lexicon” that her lawyers say is at best a derivative knock-off of her work; the WSJ law blog’s Dan Slater has coverage here, here, and here. We covered the suit Jan. 29.

Times business columnist Joe Nocera weighs in (“A Tight Grip Can Choke Creativity”, New York Times, Feb. 9). Earlier: Jan. 19.

One of the many things I like about my girlfriend is that she’s the one who wants us to get a bigger television. Of course, if we got too big a television, we might not be able to hold our annual Super Bowl party: the NFL is sending around its annual set of scare letters to anyone offering a public exhibition of the Super Bowl on a television larger than 55 inches. (Jacqueline L. Salmon, WaPo, “NFL Pulls Plug On Big-Screen Church Parties For Super Bowl”, Feb. 1). Yes, you’ve seen this story before: Feb. 3 and Jan. 31 last year.

Update: and at the WSJ ($).


Mustang club calendars

by Walter Olson on January 28, 2008

Initial reports had it that the car company’s lawyers were objecting to fans’ putting out a calendar adorned with pictures they’d taken themselves of their beloved Mustangs. Later, the company said it was fine with the fans’ publishing the photos and calendars so long as they didn’t use the Ford logo. (AdRants, Jan. 14; Culture Garage, Jan. 11).


“There is a necessary and healthy line between what the initial author owns and what follow-on, or ‘secondary,’ authors get to do, and [author J.K.] Rowling is running over that line like the Hogwarts Express.” With mention of Judge Posner’s 2002 Beanie Baby decision (Tim Wu, “J.K. Rowling’s Dark Mark”, Slate, Jan. 10).


As a Judge Morris Arnold opinion holds (h/t Slim) baseball players can’t prohibit fantasy baseball players from playing games based on their statistics. Earlier: May 2006; April 2005.

Not only does this post allow me to celebrate one of my favorite judges, but I can also use this platform to note that Kenny Lofton was out: not because he didn’t beat Manny Ramirez’s throw into second base (he did), but because he bounced off the bag afterwards while still being tagged.


September 4 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 4, 2007

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June 11 roundup

by Ted Frank on June 11, 2007

Updating earlier stories:

  • The Judge Pearson consumer fraud suit starts today. It’s exceedingly silly, but ATLA’s attack on Judge Pearson is hypocritical: the only difference between this consumer fraud suit and the consumer fraud suits ATLA supports is that it’s an African-American pro se going against a shallow pocket instead of a well-funded bunch of millionaires going against a deep pocket. The Fisher blog @ WaPo notes a publicity-stunt settlement offer. [via TaxProf blog]
  • Wesley Snipes playing the race card in his tax evasion prosecution would have more resonance if his white co-defendant weren’t still in jail while he’s out on bail. [Tax Prof; earlier, Nov. 22]
  • “Party mom host set for Virginia jail term” for daring to ensure high school students didn’t drink and drive by providing a safe haven for underage drinking. Earlier: June 2005. [WaPo]
  • Sorry, schadenfreude fans: Fred Baron settles with Baron & Budd. [Texas Lawyer; earlier Sep. 4]
  • Blackmail-through-civil discovery lawyer Ted Roberts (Mar. 19 and links therein) seeks new trial. [Texas Lawyer]
  • Second Circuit doesn’t quite yet decide Ehrenfeld v. Bin Mahfouz libel tourism suit (Oct. 2003). [Bashman roundup of links]
  • NFL drops claims to trademarking “The Big Game” as a euphemism for the trademarked “Super Bowl” (Jan. 31) [Lattman]
  • More on the Supreme Court’s “fake mental retardation to get out of the death penalty” decision, Atkins v. Virginia (Feb. 2005; Sep. 2003). [LA Times]
  • What does Overlawyered favorite Rex deGeorge (Sep. 2004) have to do with The Apprentice? [Real Estalker]


A classic, from TechDirt (Oct. 30):

It appears that Universal Studios recognize that the followers of the cult favorite TV show Firefly would be a great source of viral marketing for the movie based on the show, Serenity. They put together a huge viral marketing campaign…. However, as with so many of these things, it appears that the marketers at Universal forgot to tell the lawyers at Universal, who recently decided to send out cease and desist letters to a bunch of the guerilla marketers they had pushed to promote the film.

More: Tijir, Oct. 28.

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The TV host says a phone call should have sufficed to ask a retired teacher to make changes in his Oprah-for-president campaign (Sept. 25), which she calls “a flattering thing”. (“Oprah Says Her Lawyers Overreacted”, AP/Washington Post, Sept. 25).

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