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Warner Bros. Sued By Meme Creators Over Copyright Infringement 210

Posted by Soulskill
from the second-generation-internet-entertainment dept.
Krazy Kanuck sends this quote from the BBC: "Warner Bros is being sued for the alleged unauthorized use of two cats that have achieved internet fame. ... The complaint alleged that the cats were used without permission in Scribblenauts, a series of games on the Nintendo DS and other platforms. Court documents alleged that Warner Bros and 5th Cell 'knowingly and intentionally infringed' both claimant's ownership rights. 'Compounding their infringements,' court papers (PDF) said, 'defendants have used "Nyan Cat" (designed by Christopher Torres) and "Keyboard Cat" (created in 1984 by Charles Schmidt), even identifying them by name, to promote and market their games, all without plaintiffs' permission and without any compensation to plaintiffs.' "
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Warner Bros. Sued By Meme Creators Over Copyright Infringement

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  • by SmokeSerpent (106200) <benjaminNO@SPAMpsnw.com> on Friday May 03, 2013 @01:56PM (#43622373) Homepage

    Can we all just agree that idea of "copyrighting" characters is ridiculous? Trademark is one thing, but characters created without trademark should be considered travelers within the realm of culture, IMO. Actual direct digital copying of DRAWINGS of said characters, of course, falls under copyright.

  • Madness must stop. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 03, 2013 @02:01PM (#43622433)

    I don't want to defend Warner Brothers, but this suit is stupid. These characters are totally pervasive on the Internet - de-facto public domain, so to say. They're also quite old. Extremely few of the people who use them have a clue that they're copyrighted.

    If you create a meme and plaster it all over the Internet, you can't expect to keep people from using it, for profit or otherwise. That's just beyond ridiculous. If the creators of Hello Kitty were to sue every small clothing maker who used images, we'd have millions of stupid lawsuits like this under way.

    If it was a character with a strong brand association, say like Mickey Mouse or Mario or anything from a cereal box, there might be a case. These characters exist solely for the purpose of sending people LULz everywhere on the webs, so it's really not the same thing, as they aren't commonly associated with any known brand or company.

  • by NoImNotNineVolt (832851) on Friday May 03, 2013 @02:20PM (#43622657) Homepage
    How is Hello Kitty different than Mickey Mouse?
  • by idontgno (624372) on Friday May 03, 2013 @03:30PM (#43623279) Journal

    And since the other distinguishing characteristic is the name (and the soundtrack), ripped directly from a copyrighted Japanese pop song [answers.com], I think the creator of Nyan Cat owns significantly less than 25% of the thing.

    Although I would never wish legal trouble on anyone, even a copyright troll, it would certainly tickle my sense of poetic justice for Christopher Torres to be served with papers from Kellogg's and whoever "daniwell" on Nico Nico Douga is [wikipedia.org].

    Or maybe we just acknowledge that pop culture is a rich fertile humus best cared for by tilling and turning, rather than by boxing up and labeling.

    Yes. It's cultural compost. People are arguing about who owns manure. Makes me proud to live in the 21st Century.

  • by X0563511 (793323) on Friday May 03, 2013 @04:02PM (#43623567) Homepage Journal

    You joke... but Kellogg sued Image-Line over their use of "Fruity Loops" because "it confused customers." ... Image-Line makes audio production software.

  • Re:Well... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 03, 2013 @05:56PM (#43624717)

    Let us all watch and see how the MPAA/RIAA mafia wear their own regulations when thrown back at them, legitimately. ...installs self in couch, orders large supply of chips and sodas...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 03, 2013 @07:29PM (#43625511)

    Not sure if it was actually _suing_, but you could've found it by grepping for "Kellogs" in Image-Line's wiki page, which links here [image-line.com]

    Being nicer than you, I'll even give you a quote:

    Kelloggs decided to challenge us when we applied for the FruityLoops trademark in the US. We had a very strong case AND we received the trademark in Europe as the two markets are obviously separated. But later they claimed to have released CDs and games in their cereal boxes, and as we didn't want to waste money fighting them in court for 5 years ...

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