Share/E-mail This Story

Email This



Amateur Artist Wants To Ban All Sales Of Old Baltimore Ravens Game Films Over Logo Copyright

from the this-is-what-copyright-law-does dept

Copycense points us to an ongoing lawsuit by a guy seeking to bar the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL from making use commercially of any game involving the Ravens from 1996 to 1998. At issue was that this guy claimed his logo design was copied by the team. A few years back, William Patry detailed the ridiculousness behind the original lawsuit and how it had resulted in many more ridiculous lawsuits:
Bouchat, a security guard in Baltimore, believed that the Baltimore Ravens had infringed a design he claims to have created for the team's logo. He sued the team and the NFL's licensing arm. In my opinion, there was no evidence of access and the thus the case should have been summarily dismissed. In my opinion, the case was a shakedown. But, applying the fatally flawed theory of striking similarity, the case went to a jury. The jury found liability, and the Fourth Circuit affirmed in an awful decision that drew an excellent dissent by Judge King, 228 F.3d 489 (4th Cir. 2000), amended by and pet. for reh'g en banc denied. 241 F.3d 350. Judge King's dissent is the best thing yet written on why striking similarity is inherently inconsistent with basic copyright principles, and as to the facts in Bouchat, devastating to the plaintiff's claim and the majority opinion.
While Bouchat "won," he wasn't given any money, because he had failed to register his design before it was put into use. But he's since sued various other companies, and this latest lawsuit is an attempt to say that no one can show those old films because they use "his" logo, despite the lack of evidence of actual copying (which, if copyright were actually about copyright would be necessary). The lower court turned him down, noting that the use of the logo was incidental and fair use, but Bouchat is (of course) appealing. This is, again, in line with Patry's analysis that this is nothing more than a shakedown. He's not really interested in stopping the sale of these videos. He wants the team to pay him a big chunk of money so that it can keep selling the videos. This is not what copyright is intended to do, but it's what happens when copyright law gets out of control.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Dec 17th, 2009 @ 5:55am

    Teaching a lesson

    I would say something about hoping this would teach the NFL how stupid copyright and the need to control everything is, but I know they won't change until they are near death or gone.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    Ima Fish (profile), Dec 17th, 2009 @ 6:37am

    I was in law school in Baltimore back when Bouchat's allegation was first made. I was under the impression that he had a pretty strong case. Maybe that was just the way the local press spun it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Dec 17th, 2009 @ 6:51am

    Re:

    That was my recollection as well. I think the Sun (and thus, everyone else) framed it that way.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    Ima Fish (profile), Dec 17th, 2009 @ 7:05am

    Re: Re:

    Newspapers love stories about the little guy battling the big ugly corporation. As long as that big ugly corporation is not a huge advertiser, of course!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Dec 17th, 2009 @ 7:18am

    Question

    Why is it that the NFL, NBA, and MLB seem to have to deal with this garbage while the NHL continues to do a relatively wonderful job both courting fans and avoiding odd money grabs like this one. It's really weird that the sport that is seen as the most violent and thuggish seems to have the fans and owners with the greatest sense of honor.

    Dear GOD I hope M&M is going to write up a post on the awesome NHL broadcast CwF story I submitted. Mostly because the YouTube video is so hysterical....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Ryan, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 7:24am

    Re: Question

    I doubt honor has a thing to do with it. The NHL has long had financial/popularity issues, so it has to scrounge for fans. Conversely, the NFL is sitting on a gold mine and thus has the luxury of basically doing what it wants.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    Ima Fish (profile), Dec 17th, 2009 @ 7:52am

    Re: Question

    "NHL continues to do a relatively wonderful job both courting fans...

    It's simply easier to be fan friendly when you only have a handful of fans.

    ...and avoiding odd money grabs like this one"

    Has the NHL ever been profitable enough to have money left over to grab?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Tim, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 7:52am

    He originally submitted his design in a contest that the Ravens had to design the logo. The Sun covered this pretty extensively when it happened. The guy and most everyone else in Baltimore was really surprised when the Ravens came out with their "own" design that looked almost just like his. Before this went to court all the guys asked for from the Ravens was an autographed football from the team. Nope! This could have all been avoided by some one in the Ravens PR department having a clue about how to connect to the fans.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    Ima Fish (profile), Dec 17th, 2009 @ 7:53am

    Re: Re: Question

    Wow, you said exactly what I said but without the mean-spirited condensing language. There's probably a lesson in this somewhere.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Ima Shrimp, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 7:56am

    Let's Slam Copyright

    This is not what copyright is intended to do, but it's what happens when copyright law gets out of control.

    Mike, this is where you get off the rails again. You might have merit if the guy didn't already have a judgement in his back pocket. He has one. Everything that happened from 1996 to 1998 was effectively in violation of his copyright.

    With that judgement in hard, he has all the right to try to enforce his copyright (as was set by the courts). It is up to the courts to decide if his search for a remedy is valid or not. it isn't copyright out of control, it is exactly what the system is suppose to stop: The use of copyrighted material without permission.

    The lower court's "fair use" ruling pretty much flies in the face of his previous winning judgement, so the appeal is pretty much a forgone conclusion.

    oh yeah, a side note. Considering how you slam the other side, why do you not refer to William Patry as "copyright hating William Patry". It would seem only fair, or do you want to leave that detail out?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Dec 17th, 2009 @ 8:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Question

    "Wow, you said exactly what I said but without the mean-spirited condensing language. There's probably a lesson in this somewhere."

    Well, yes, the NHL is far from the monster that the NFL and MLB are, but you guys both seem to be missing the fact that the NHL is posting record numbers this season and last, and all of that was done in a recession. As the countries 4th or 5th most popular sport, that seems fairly solid to me. Team values are all up, and the original six markets are growing by multiple percentage points, which in the midst of a recession is beyond solid. I'm not delusional about the popularity of hockey, but they certainly aren't playing with chump changs:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE5AB33X20091112

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Dec 17th, 2009 @ 8:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Question

    "Team values are all up"

    Sorry, should have read League values are all up, as in ticket revenue, broadcasting revenue, advertising revenue, etc.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    Overcast (profile), Dec 17th, 2009 @ 10:35am

    I've copy-written the concept of 'game films' - I'm suing for them even using the term.

    Wouldn't that be funny?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    ., Dec 17th, 2009 @ 10:44am

    Copyright is just for the big boys.

    Moral of the story:

    If you don't have money you can't use copyright to extract money LoL

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Dec 17th, 2009 @ 10:57am

    Re:

    "He originally submitted his design in a contest that the Ravens had to design the logo. "

    No, he just faxed it unsolicited to the Stadium Authority. The Sun ran a contest for the new logo, which is probably what you're thinking of.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    tubes, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 11:05am

    Art Modell is an asshole. Of course he stole the logo. Just like he tried to steal the great history from the Cleveland Browns football too. Its bad enough he moved the team out of Cleveland.
    Wikipedia has a picture of both the Ravens version of the log & the original sketch. They are almost identical!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    Money Mike (profile), Dec 17th, 2009 @ 11:51am

    I was always curious why the Ravens had a different logo for the first few years. I guess this explains it.

    By the way, for anyone interested in actually seeing the past and current logos for the Ravens (I know I was surprised it wan't in the Sun's story), here is a link:
    http://www.chriscreamer.com/team.php?id=153

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Hus, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 9:30am

    Re:

    Art Modell may have "stolen" the Browns history, but at least he didn't steal the name, or the colors, or the logo, or sneak the team out of the city in the middle of the night.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This