OTW Fannews: Legal Confusion

  • The Washington Post was one of many media outlets covering the U.S. Trademark Office’s decision to cancel the Redskins trademark registration. “The 99-page decision by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board said the team’s name and logo are disparaging. It dilutes the Redskins’ legal protection against infringement and hinders the team’s ability to block counterfeit merchandise from entering the country. But its effect is largely symbolic. The ruling cannot stop the team from selling T-shirts, beer glasses and license-plate holders with the moniker or keep the team from trying to defend itself against others who try to profit from the logo.”
  • The Wisconsin State Law Library pointed to a book about trademarks and fan-created content in the wake of the Klinger v. Conan Doyle Estate decision. The book in question is about trademarks and fan-created content from the perspective of trademark owners which doesn’t really acknowledge fans’ rights to make fair uses— but instead is about “tolerating” use. It’s an older work, and an example of the way that trademark owners used to assume that they were always the ones who got to decide how their works would be received.
  • io9 put a spotlight on a study about filk. “Women in the filk community are more likely than men to create original melodies to accompany their lyrics, while women are only somewhat more likely to borrow from others’ lyrics than are men. Because filk is often viewed as an imitative culture, the tendency of women to depart from that ethos in creating their own melodies seems significant…female respondents were much more likely to define fair use as not profiting from others’ work, and somewhat more likely to define it as giving credit to the original author and making private as opposed to public use of a protected work.”
  • The YALSA blog posted about Fandom and Fair Use but made some problematic claims. For example, it does not actually discuss what fair use is and provides questionable examples. Crunchyroll claims to be fully licensed and even Disney has now embraced user-generated content. Instead what the YALSA post demonstrates is an example of copyright confusion: people think that some things aren’t “allowed” when in fact either fair use law or licensing is on their side.

What confusing legal fandom issues have you come across? Write about them on Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

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