Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
copyright, fight song, infringement, unlv, video games

Companies:
ea



EA Sued For Copyright Infringement Over College Fight Song

from the what's-good-for-the-goose? dept

Isn't it funny how some of the strongest defenders of copyright seem to have other opinions when they're on the other side of the fence? EA, which has kicked up lots of dust about copyright and DRM and the importance of intellectual property, is now finding itself on the receiving end of a lawsuit from from a composer and song writer alleging copyright infringement for the use of the UNLV "fight song" in various EA sports games. The guy claims to own the copyright on both the lyrics and the music. It's unclear if EA was under the impression that UNLV had licensed the song, and we often don't think of university fight songs as being helped along by copyright (you generally want more people singing them). So, while I think EA should be able to use the song without any trouble, it's always amusing when strong defenders of copyright suddenly find themselves in legal battles in which they may discover that copyright creates some new problems they didn't expect.

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  • identicon
    Paul, 22 Oct 2008 @ 1:34pm

    Ya

    Ya EA should be able to use that song without any trouble. They should be able to use any copyrighted material whenever they want and however they want.

    You said it Mike, down with copyright law!

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

    • identicon
      aNonnyMooseOne, 25 Apr 2010 @ 3:48pm

      Re: Ya

      Boy,we can tell who DOESN'T make a living through their talents. You THIEVES probably steal people's work off the internet as well.

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

  • identicon
    JEDIDIAH, 22 Oct 2008 @ 1:42pm

    Fly-by-night U

    No college fight song should be "new" enough that it's still a copyrighted work. It and the school that uses it should both be old enough that they predate the current RIAA and Son Bono inspired copyright shenanigans.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2008 @ 1:42pm

    I just want to be the first to post a comment that DOESNT bash EA. Surely EA understands the complexity of IP rights management and the intrinsic value of media. I am sure this will be settled out of court with EA paying a licensing fee to the copyright holder.

    This ISN'T ironic, it ISN'T poetic justice. It's just the state of normal day-to-day operations in the software industry.

    Can you imagine the world without any copyrights or trademarks? How would you know if the Folgers coffee you bought was from Folgers? How would you know that the Transformers movie you paid to see was the one directed by Steven Spielberg.

    Copyrights and Trademarks provide consumers protections as well as corporations. Constantly bashing companies and individuals for enforcing their IP rights in ridiculous. Then again the system does need reform as does the patent system in this country.

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

    • icon
      Mike (profile), 22 Oct 2008 @ 2:20pm

      Re:

      Can you imagine the world without any copyrights or trademarks? How would you know if the Folgers coffee you bought was from Folgers? How would you know that the Transformers movie you paid to see was the one directed by Steven Spielberg.


      That's a trademark issue, not a copyright one, and I have made quite clear that I believe trademark is perfectly find for consumer protection, such as in the cases you described above.

      Nice try at a straw man, though.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2008 @ 2:28pm

      Re:

      How would you know that the Transformers movie you paid to see was the one directed by Steven Spielberg. Honestly I'd prefer if it wasn't that one... that movie was shite.

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

    • identicon
      JMG, 22 Oct 2008 @ 2:55pm

      Re:

      How would you know that the Transformers movie you paid to see was the one directed by Steven Spielberg.

      There's a Transformers movie directed by Steven Spielberg?!

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

  • identicon
    Rose M. Welch, 22 Oct 2008 @ 1:50pm

    Can you imagine the world without any copyrights or trademarks? How would you know if the Folgers coffee you bought was from Folgers? How would you know that the Transformers movie you paid to see was the one directed by Steven Spielberg.

    Those are examples of trademarks, which are given to help curb consumer confusion. The blog post never mentioned trademarks. The article is about copyright.

    Nice try at clouding the issue, though.

    Oh, also... Normal operations and irony are not mutually exclusive states. It can be both, ya know...

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

  • identicon
    Joshua BA, 22 Oct 2008 @ 1:58pm

    WTF Mike

    What's with the "well OTHER people get to use it without paying so why can't EA?" reasoning? That's the same kind of reasoning that people who take copyleft software and then don't release the source when they release their products. I see this kind of moral bankruptcy all the time with you economist/libertarian types. If it isn't making money for someone you assume they clearly didn't value it and so it's fair game to use as you wish. Not everyone wants monetary compensation for their work and those people shouldn't have to be treated with the condescension and disregard you and your type treat them with.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2008 @ 2:04pm

      Re: WTF Mike

      Not everyone wants compensation for the work they did N years ago, in perpetuity. Those that do, I treat with due condescension and disregard while I write spend hours every day writing open source code to give to the world because I am a hippie/economist/libertarian type.

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

      • identicon
        mobiGeek, 22 Oct 2008 @ 2:55pm

        Re: Re: WTF Mike

        Not everyone wants compensation for the work they did N years ago, in perpetuity. Those that do[...]

        ...likely are not adhering to the basic purpose of copyright law: to encourage MORE creativity.

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

    • icon
      Mike (profile), 22 Oct 2008 @ 2:24pm

      Re: WTF Mike

      What's with the "well OTHER people get to use it without paying so why can't EA?" reasoning?

      That wasn't the reasoning I used, but... ok.

      I see this kind of moral bankruptcy all the time with you economist/libertarian types

      Please explain what you mean by "moral bankruptcy." I find that hard to fathom. We are explaining ways that the overall economic pie can be bigger so that everyone can benefit more. I find it difficult to see how improving the situation for everyone could be morally bankrupt. So, please explain.

      If it isn't making money for someone you assume they clearly didn't value it and so it's fair game to use as you wish.

      Whoa. I have said nothing of the sort. I'm not sure what sort of pent up anger you have against some people, but that's no excuse for pretending I said something I didn't. I never said anything like what you just said. Please, I would suggest you apologize, admit you were wrong, and start again.

      Not everyone wants monetary compensation for their work and those people shouldn't have to be treated with the condescension and disregard you and your type treat them with.

      Apparently, you don't read what I write. You have set up a total strawman. Just the other day I was DEFENDING the idea that not everyone wants monetary compensation, and here you are complaining that I treat them with condescension.

      http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20081013/0118202528.shtml

      Dude. Try reading before spewing.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2008 @ 2:02pm

    While I think it's ok for college fight songs to be distributed freely, i think it's a whole 'nother issue when EA comes along and starts making money off something that is free content. Think of it as the GPL or something: feel free to modify, distribute, download, etc., just don't claim ownership or sell.

    I think EA should pay the licensing fee for these songs so long as they intend on profiting from them. If they're going to use the money to make horrid DRM schemes, then why not make them pay for it ahead of time?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2008 @ 2:04pm

    If he indeeds holds copyright, all I got to say is ....


    HA HA HA HAH AHA HAHAH HAHHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA

    I hope they lose!

    EA has betrayed all its customers with DRM, so it would be justice!

    Not 1 cent!

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

  • identicon
    IT Dude, 22 Oct 2008 @ 2:06pm

    Ha Ha

    I think EA should only be able to use the song 3 times, and the composer should be able to install a secuROM in EA's server to ensure that EA doesn't break this agreement.

    What comes around goes around

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

  • identicon
    Bob, 22 Oct 2008 @ 2:49pm

    EA uses Fight Song?

    If it's ok that EA uses a Fight Song that someone else owns, and holds the rights to, then it should be ok that Happy Birthday should be sung by whomever pleases, where ever they please.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2008 @ 3:00pm

    Mike, do you consider your blog copyright protected, or can anyone use your words and simply change the name? Just curious if you are willing to allow the things you have written to be used for purposes other than those you intended. And similar to this case, would you be upset if you weren't credited with creating this content?

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

    • icon
      Mike (profile), 22 Oct 2008 @ 3:51pm

      Re:

      Mike, do you consider your blog copyright protected

      Nope.

      or can anyone use your words and simply change the name?

      Yes, you are free to do what you want with it. We have addressed this, at length. It's rather tiresome for people to keep bringing this up, but I'll repeat exactly what I've said before (from here: http://www.techdirt.com/article.php?sid=20070412/183135#c612)

      ---
      as we've said repeatedly, we have no problem with people taking our content and reposting it. It's funny how many people come here, like yourself, and assume you've found some "gotcha." You haven't. There already are about 10 sites that copy Techdirt, post for post. Some of them give us credit. Some of them don't. We don't go after any of them.

      Here's why:

      1. None of those sites get any traffic. By itself, they offer nothing special.

      2. If anything, it doesn't take people long to read those sites and figure out that the content is really from Techdirt. Then they just come here to the original source. So, it tends to help drive more traffic to us. That's cool.

      3. As soon as the people realize the other sites are simply copying us, it makes those sites look really, really bad. If you want to risk your reputation like that, go ahead, but it's a big risk.

      4. A big part of the value of Techdirt is the community here. You can't just replicate that.

      5. Another big part of the value of Techdirt is that we, the writers, engage in the comments. You absolutely cannot fake that on your own site.

      So, really, what's the purpose of copying our content, other than maybe driving a little traffic our way?

      So, if you really want to, I'd suggest it's pretty dumb, but go ahead.
      ---

      Just curious if you are willing to allow the things you have written to be used for purposes other than those you intended. And similar to this case, would you be upset if you weren't credited with creating this content?

      As I said, go right ahead. We built our business model such that it doesn't matter, and we encourage you to spread our content as far and wide as possible. Please help us. It only encourages more people to come here and sign up for our services.

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

  • identicon
    Bob, 22 Oct 2008 @ 3:13pm

    It should be higher

    Gerald Willis wants 1.5 million for the infringement. LOL
    Go get em Gerry.

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

  • identicon
    Robert Holtz, 22 Oct 2008 @ 3:22pm

    Copyright Law

    The only people who want to do away with copyright law are the people who don't create any original content. How about we have YOU work for free? How would you like THAT? I hope the composer gets a licensing fee/royalty to which they are very much entitled.

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

    • icon
      Mike (profile), 22 Oct 2008 @ 3:55pm

      Re: Copyright Law

      The only people who want to do away with copyright law are the people who don't create any original content.

      That, of course, is simply untrue, but nice strawman.

      How about we have YOU work for free?

      You seem mightily confused. I'm assuming you're new around here. But not having copyright does not mean working for free. The business models we have laid out (http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20070503/012939.shtml) are actually about helping people make more money by not relying on the copyright crutch.

      How would you like THAT?

      Making less money by shrinking my own market? That sounds pretty bad, actually. Why do you support it?

      I hope the composer gets a licensing fee/royalty to which they are very much entitled.

      You do realize the more likely result is that EA simply stops using the song, decreasing its awareness level, and potentially substituting some other song that gets a lot more attention and potentially replaces the original? The composer is shooting himself in the foot.

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

      • identicon
        Spytrx, 22 Oct 2008 @ 4:22pm

        Re: Re: Copyright Law

        The composer is shooting himself in the foot.

        Not necessarily - first of all if he wins the lawsuit he gains a healthy sum of money. Better yet: did anybody even know his name before now, let alone his music? You can say what you will, he got some mighty publicity in exchange for that "limb" you talked about... ;)

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

  • icon
    Rob (profile), 22 Oct 2008 @ 5:16pm

    Re: HA HA

    I think EA should only be able to use the song 3 times, and the composer should be able to install a secuROM in EA's server to ensure that EA doesn't break this agreement. This is the best comment I've ever read on this site. Also, secuROM must be un-installable, to make sure that EA doesn't plan on stealing any fight songs in the future.

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

  • identicon
    Andrew, 23 Oct 2008 @ 3:37am

    I'd like to point out that ...

    I'd like to point out that this may not be EA's fault; in fact, it's probably UNLV's. The fight song for the University of South Carolina uses the music from an Elmer Bernstein musical (How Now, Dow Jones), and Bernstein's estate still holds the copyright on the song. USC and several others license the music for merchandise, but EA does not; the fight song is replaced with another USC song (Cocky's 2001 or Old Fight Song, depending on the year).

    It's possible that UNLV's licensing department is to blame here for not giving EA the correct information. It's also possible that this guy is full of it, and UNLV really does hold the rights.

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

  • identicon
    TheCrut, 23 Oct 2008 @ 5:44am

    Sorry, as much as it must be ...

    Sorry, as much as it must be a bother to you Mike, I love it when you use that "gotcha" statement and pretty much wipe the walls with the ignorant people on this site.

    BTW, most college fight songs sound about the same anyways, it wouldn't be hard for EA to just pick another similar fight song from some small school and no one but the students and alums would know.

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

  • icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), 23 Oct 2008 @ 5:45am

    It was indeed a great ...

    It was indeed a great comment.
    But, did you mean "not" un-installable?
    SecuRom is a pain, crashes programs, messes with stuff it shouldn't, and also a pain to remove.
    There are some things as a coder, you could pay me any sum of money to work on, and I would still refuse based on principle.

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

  • identicon
    nasch, 23 Oct 2008 @ 8:42am

    So you're saying it's wrong ...

    So you're saying it's wrong that a college has adopted a new fight song any time in the last 90ish years? Wow.

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

  • identicon
    edd, 23 Oct 2008 @ 8:46am

    Auburn has never had their ...

    Auburn has never had their fight song in any NCAA game because EA won't pay to use it. I stopped buying the game a few years ago. Never would pay for a fight song, had voice overs saying welcome to "x stadium, home of x team" when it was a home game in Auburn and they'd say another team at another location. EA sports department sucks at QA

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

  • identicon
    Marsha Thomas, 26 Oct 2008 @ 5:44pm

    Songwriters rights to sue for copyright infringement

    The blog post, 'Songwriters: Copyright registration required to sue infringing mega companies, superstars and public figures,' at http://dandridgelaw.com/2008/10/songwriters-copyright-registration.html says that you can only sue for infringement if you you have properly registered the work with the US Copyright office. I don't think the college registered the work/fight song.

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


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