Rather Than Mocking Confusion Over Copyright Law, IP Lawyers Should Look At Fixing It

from the 3.4-people-out-of-4-think-so dept

Over the past few years, around Superbowl time, there have been various articles about the NFL threatening groups (often churches) for potentially violating copyright law by having a "public performance" of the Superbowl on a TV greater than 55" inches. This year, we didn't see much of that, but there was an odd article about University of Tampa students being told that they couldn't have more than 3.4 people watching the Superbowl in their dorms, or it risked being a public performance and violation of copyright law. This, of course, makes very little sense (not the least of which is the obvious question of how you have .4 of a person.

Not surprisingly, this has the IP lawyers out there mocking folks for being totally clueless on copyright law. Yes, yes, it's easy to mock -- especially when the whole 3.4 person issue seems to have been basically made up from nowhere. However, I'd argue that the problem is less with the University of Tampa than it is with what copyright law has become these days.

We hear so many stories of bizarre interpretations of copyright law, that it clearly seems perfectly reasonable to many, many people that copyright law might actually say that about 3.4 people representing a public performance. When churches are getting threatening letters and mechanics are being sued for playing music to loudly in the garage, it doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility. The problem is not with some clueless folks at the University of Tampa as it is with (a) our current copyright laws that have been patched and duct taped together over and over again that no non-lawyer can truly understand them, let alone abide by them and (b) other recent rulings on copyright law that have made it clear to people that the law is used to stop perfectly normal activities.

So, the IP lawyers can have fun mocking, but I'd suggest their time might be better spent working to fix copyright law so that people wouldn't even think this made sense.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: copyright, lawyers, public performance, superbowl
Companies: university of tampa

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    Vincent Clement, 2 Feb 2009 @ 10:12am

    Re: But we have to protect Mickey...

    That is based on the incorrect assumption that when something becomes public domain that the original copyright holder can no longer make money from that content.

    The patents on Aspirin and Tylenol expired years ago, yet both products continue to sell despite the availability of cheaper generics. How is that possible? Because Bayer and Tylenol have something the generics don't have - brand recognition.

    Releasing old Disney movies into the public domain would mean that Disney would have to become innovative. And recently returning from my first trip to Disney World, there must be a few people at Disney who could add value to a good that is in the public domain.

    $10,000 is chump change to Disney. It's probably cheaper then hiring lawyers and lobbyists to 'tweak' copyright law to their advantage.

    But this isn't about profit. It's about advancing society.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Discord

The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...

Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.