By: Taylor Bussey
Internet memes are a unique derivative use of otherwise copyrightable content. In this blog post I will discuss whether or not protection matters. Given the nature of the internet—very fleeting content—and of intellectual property litigation—traditionally, painfully slow—does copyright of a meme even matter? I will include a law and economics analysis, using the Cosean placement-of-entitlement matrix, regarding whether the placement of the entitlement will ultimately affect bargaining amongst the parties. I conclude that the placement of the entitlement does not matter because of the weakness of the enforcement mechanisms against copyright infringement of this scale.
By: Tyler Dysart
The sports apparel market is plagued by counterfeit products that reproduce athletic teams’ trademarks at a fraction of the cost. This problem is catalyzed by exclusive licensing deals granted to manufacturers by sports teams, which drive up costs of these officially licensed goods and in turn forcing many consumers to go to black market websites to purchase apparel. This dichotomy is due to the unique nature of sports trademarks, whose purpose is not to inform consumers about the source of the good, but merely used to inform others about the consumers themselves – that they support a specific team. This is out of line with the modern policies behind trademark law, which is to protect consumers, not the manufacturers. Therefore, I propose a federal system that would regulate sports trademark licensing, making it available to all manufacturers at specified rates, thus lowering the costs of goods for consumers and squashing out the black market.
By: Marcus McGinnis
Within the twelve months prior to publication of this blog, changes to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (the “DMCA”) enforcement protocols on Twitch have created an unsustainable environment for creators on the platform who are subject to a set of draconian pre-Web 2.0 laws that stifle content creation efforts through unfair copyright enforcement mechanisms. The issue lies mostly in how the DMCA incentivizes online service providers to “expeditiously” handle licensing issues. This approach has led to creator’s having to delete entire backlogs based on claims that would likely be considered fair use if actually looked into because it is the most efficient solution for the platform. This sort of deadweight loss is detrimental to platforms, creators, and audiences because the risk of demonetization or deletion after the fact may dissuade some creators and audiences from even investing in content creation efforts at all. In this blog post, I will explain how Twitch found itself in its current DMCA predicament, why its current proposed solution of mass backlog deletion is unsustainable, and why the platform should follow the approach of rival platforms and proactively utilize its vast resources to negotiate a more equitable, private contract solution with music license holders. Given the disparity in negotiating power between a platform the size of Twitch and individual creators, Twitch is better situated to take on the burdens of negotiating a music licensing solution on behalf of all of the creators who drive traffic to their site.
By: Baylee Carter
From “Narcos” to “Stranger Things”, Netflix has produced binge-worthy content. With the many shows, movies, and documentaries that Netflix brings to viewers, there have been increased allegations of copyright infringement. This blog post looks at several noteworthy copyright infringement cases Netflix has defended in the last few years in the United States. Content examined includes whether or not Netflix settled and what defenses were asserted if Netflix went to trial. Using the last few cases as a guide, I will examine what Netflix has learned from these past cases and then predict how Netflix content and defense strategies may change based on the outcomes of these requisite cases.
By: Mickey Tomlinson
This blog post addresses how important consumer surveys will be for “generic.com” owners because of the United States Supreme Court’s recent Booking.com BV v. USPTO decision. The Supreme Court held there is not a per se rule that automatically bars a “generic.com” from being trademarked, rather the consumer perception of the mark determines its eligibility for trademark registration. Booking.com presented evidence consumer surveys illustrating the fact that consumers associate “Booking.com” as a specific company that offers online hotel booking and accommodation services rather than as a class of goods or services. While the Supreme Court found Booking.com’s evidence persuasive, the dissent did not; Justice Breyer argued “generic.com” cannot receive trademark registration because (1) it violates traditional trademark law and (2) consumer surveys are not reliable. Ultimately, the Booking.com BV v. USPTO decision indicates consumer surveys are invaluable and will likely be offered early as evidence in the trademark registration process for similar “generic.com” marks.