Left Shark Bites Back: 3D Printer Sculptor Hires Lawyer To Respond To Katy Perry's Bogus Takedown
from the jumping-the-shark dept
Did you think Katy Perry’s lawyers sending a questionable cease & desist letter over 3d printable plans for “the left shark” backup dancer in Katy Perry’s Superbowl Halftime routine would be the end of that story? It turns out that the guy who originally created the 3d printed figurine, Fernando Sosa, has now gone out and retained law professor/lawyer Chris Sprigman (the same Chris Sprigman we quoted in our original article detailing why a costume is a “useful article” and thus not copyrightable) to send a response to Perry’s lawyers explaining copyright 101 to them.
Mr. Sosa is not especially eager to be fighting over copyright, but the legal merits of your claim seem very weak. (We also wonder what Katy Perry could possibly stand to gain from declaring war on an Internet meme, but that’s her business.) Mr. Sosa has a few questions that he wants answered before he will remove Left Shark from the other online stores in which it is available.
First, can you tell me why you believe the costume of a shark that you claim Katy Perry owns is copyrightable? As you likely know, federal courts and the United States Copyright Office have made clear that costumes are generally not copyrightable. Please tell me why you think the Left Shark costume should be treated differently.
Second, what is the basis for your claim that Katy Perry, and not some other person, owns the copyright? Did Katy Perry design the Left Shark costume? If so, when? If not, who did? Did that person transfer any copyright interest he or she might have (in reality, very likely none) to Katy Perry? If so, when?
We ask about ownership not least because Katy Perry herself suggested that she didn’t have control over the content of her halftime show, but rather the NFL did. See, for example, her recent interview with Ell magazine:
“In my show, I am boss daddy. I am bossy mommy. They call me Boss. Everything goes through my eyes; I call all the shots, 100 percent of it. With the NFL, I have to be accountable to several levels of red tape. There are many committees I have to go through for my costumes, the budgets of my show, every interview–everything, I have to report to somebody. So I am no longer the boss; I have to relinquish that control.”
At the very least, Katy Perry’s own account raises questions about what, if anything, she owns. If she wasn’t the boss of her halftime show, she’s also unlikely to be the copyright owner.
Sprigman also ends his letter with some quite sane advice: perhaps Katy Perry’s lawyers should just drop this:
I’ll end my letter with a simple request: Just drop this thing. My client wants to get back to his business, and he (and I’d wager pretty much everyone else) would be grateful if you’d just back off. Going ahead with these very dubious copyright claims will not benefit Katy Perry. But if you’re determined to press on, please do respond to my legal questions, and we can try to work it out from there.
This may be some of the best advice given to opposing lawyers. Now the question is whether or not Perry’s lawyers will take it.