No, Writing A Song With The Lyric 'Let's Go Thunder' Doesn't Entitle You To 30% Of The Oklahoma City Thunder's Profits

from the ownership-society dept

A guy named Charles Syrus apparently wrote a song that had the phrases "Go Thunder" and "Let's Go Thunder" in it, cheering on the Oklahoma City Thunder NBA team. Syrus then got a copyright on the song. And then... he claimed that the copyright for the song gave him the copyright in those two phrases, and demanded 20 to 30% of the teams' "net gross" (um...) for using those phrases in promotional campaigns. Not surprisingly, the district court and the appeals court rejected his lawsuit, noting that "we easily conclude that the phrases ‘Go Thunder’ and ‘Let’s Go Thunder’ do not reflect the minimal creativity required for copyright protection." And, finally (though to the surprise of pretty much no one, Syrus excepted), the Supreme Court has said it has no interest in hearing his appeal. Some will claim that this is no big deal, since the courts got it right and this clear overreach of copyright law went nowhere legally. However, it does seem like yet another sign of the insanity of our culture today and the suggestion that everything and every phrase is "ownable" thanks to modern IP laws. You wouldn't even have a case like this if people didn't think it was possible to abuse copyright in this manner -- and given the headlines we see of crazy sounding copyright cases all the time, it shouldn't be any surprise at all that people are tying up courts with ridiculous claims like this one.


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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 11:51am

    OMG, IP abuse! IP abuse! Thank God for Michael Masnick, our Internet Savior.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 12:01pm

    This is probably an anomaly but I do think people have a ridiculous notion about the ownership of ideas.

     

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      MrWilson, May 30th, 2012 @ 12:09pm

      Re:

      Not even their own ideas. People have been trying to claim ownership of simple words and phrases for a while. It doesn't usually go over well unless you're a deep-pocketed corporation.

      Just ask Leo Stoller.

       

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      Chosen Reject (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 12:16pm

      Re:

      I'd agree with you about it being an anomaly, if it was, but it isn't. We have chefs claiming IP being stolen when someone takes a picture of their food and a CEO claiming their logo stolen and tagline misappropriated when someone makes a parody website of their company, and that's just today. In the past Burberry was threatened by Humphrey Bogart's estate for showing an image of Mr Bogart wearing a Burberry coat, trademark applications for Linsanity, Seal 6 (not by the Navy Seals), Occupy Wall St, Justice for Trayvon, and I won't even begin with the Olympics. There's more, but I don't have the time to remember them all.

      It's not an anomaly.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 12:54pm

        Re: Re:

        Don't forget the IOC suing anybody daring to use the word "OLYMPIC" or "THE GAMES"

         

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          Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 2:42pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Oh, that might be a great battle to watch on Pay-Per-View.

          This Sunday we have a cage match between the lawyers from the OIC vs the lawyers from Lionsgate Studios (The Hunger Games).

          FIGHT!

           

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 12:10pm

    Seriously, it's no big deal.

    WHY EVEN WRITE ABOUT IT?

     

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      Machin Shin (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 12:27pm

      Re:

      No big deal other than the amount of time this wasted in the courts. Do you really think these fools paid everyone for the time they wasted? Who pays the judges, stenographers, and everyone else involved in making the court run?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 1:09pm

      Re:

      Seriously, it's just an article.

      WHY EVEN READ IT AND COMMENT ON IT?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 12:15pm

    Message to so-called "Americans"

    Good. Eat each other and leave the rest of the fucking world alone.

     

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    John Katos, May 30th, 2012 @ 12:16pm

    How about "threepeat" and "one for the thumb" for silly copyrights.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 1:28pm

      Re:

      I wonder if your examples are okay because they were coined by someone who then got the copyright on it versus something they did not create but put into a song?

      Besides, any sports team called Thunder would have fans yelling Go Thunder or Let's go Thunder. Probably have been doing it long before this guy's song was even created.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 12:17pm

    the only problem with this lawsuit was that it was brought by an individual. had it been a major label belonging to RIAA, the court would have fallen over itself to rule in it's favour and award astronomical damages. no bias, of course! (sarc)

     

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      Brent (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 12:42pm

      Re:

      agreed! when i started reading the article, i actually thought it was going to do that sort of comparison.. I don't think its right to 'abuse' the system but honestly, if more individuals tried to do this kind of thing, maybe it would be more abundantly clear to law-makers and/or regular citizens the system is completely screwed up and change would happen. Not to mention there would be more comparisons of cases brought by individuals getting rejected vs similar cases brought by RIAA/MPAA that are awarded damages.

       

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      gorehound (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 12:50pm

      Re:

      +1
      Hope I live long enough to watch their big ass greedy World fall apart.
      And that is how much I hate these bigwigs.No Sympathy one bit in my heart for any of them.
      Just keep it in our Nation so we don't mess with other Nations.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 12:27pm

    Being a fan: you're doing it wrong.

     

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    khory, May 30th, 2012 @ 12:27pm

    If they had stayed in Seattle they wouldn't have this problem:)

     

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      The Mighty Buzzard (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 12:46pm

      Re:

      And I wouldn't have to deal with people suddenly giving a shit about basketball in OK.

      Seriously, how did a football state end up with a pro basketball team?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 2:10pm

        Re: Re:

        The state with Bedlam (the awesomest name for a rivalry I've ever heard) doesn't even get a pro football team. Guess we'll just have to hope OSU (sorry sooners) rises to the challenge again this year.
        That is, if the coaches on the poll don't have their head stuck up their collective asses.

         

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        Rose M. Welch (profile), May 31st, 2012 @ 7:14am

        Re: Re:

        We're just greedy.

         

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    Ima Fish (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 12:29pm

    "Some will claim that this is no big deal, since the courts got it right and this clear overreach of copyright law went nowhere legally."

    Anyone who claims that is an idiot. The expense of taking a case all the way to the supreme court is outrageous. My guess would be at least a half million in attorney fees alone. That is not a system that works for a frivolous case.

    And even if the court does make the loser pay, where is that money coming from? It's not like that song writer has a half a million dollars lying around.

     

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    Machin Shin (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 12:30pm

    What gets me is how stupid the guy was to go for 30%. There was never any hope of getting that. He probably could have trolled very well though by just asking for much lower amount and hope they pay to get rid of him.

     

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    Russ (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 1:11pm

    Originality

    Let's Go XXXX has been around for decades. For that matter, Let's go Thunder has been around for about 20 years for my local AA baseball team the Trenton Thunder. I think there is prior art.

    what a greedy little idiot

     

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      Almost Anonymous (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 1:58pm

      Re: Originality

      I dunno, he's no worse than your typical patent troll, and in many ways better since his actions largely will not hamper basketball or song-writing innovation.

       

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    illuminaut (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 1:41pm

    Can't blame him for trying to game a broken system for his advantage. Had it worked, him and his children and grandchildren never would have to work another day in their lives. If he seriously thought he was in the RIGHT however then he's a complete idiot.

     

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      John Fenderson (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 3:54pm

      Re:

      Can't blame him for trying to game a broken system for his advantage.


      Of course I can. What's wrong with blaming someone for their unethical acts?

       

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    WDS (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 1:46pm

    2 wrongs = 1 right?

    Well he copied "Thunder" from the name of the team, and he copied "Let's go" from the chant of every other team in America (or is that Amercia). It makes perfect sense to me that he should get wealth from then combining the two. If he had added two claps between every time the line was repeated it would of been worth 50% of the teams gross.

     

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    wallow-T, May 30th, 2012 @ 1:52pm

    It would seem to me that the sports team should have a claim against the songwriter, as the concept of "Thunder", as the name of the sports franchise, must be protect by trademark or copyright or something. :-)

     

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    Luc Boardwalk, May 30th, 2012 @ 2:18pm

    um...

    He wants 30 percent of the "net gross"? Throw in a couple of dozen jumbo shrimp while you're at it.

     

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