$1 Trillion Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Against Oprah Dismissed

from the well,-phew dept

We've seen all sorts of bizarre copyright claims over the years, but I can't recall anything quite like this. Apparently, Oprah Winfrey was sued by some poet for $1 trillion, claiming that the TV talkshow star had ripped off a poem. One would hope that his poetry is better than his legal skills, as the lawsuit was quickly dismissed, noting that the poet failed to register a copyright on his poems, and a prerequisite before a copyright infringement lawsuit is to have the works registered. While it's never good to support bogus litigation, it's difficult not to wonder how this guy planned to substantiate the $1 trillion number. Even the big shots in the RIAA and MPAA don't go that far...
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Filed Under: copyright, oprah, poetry


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  1. icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), 11 Aug 2009 @ 6:24am

    general question

    If one cannot sue someone for copyright infringement without registering the work first, why do we have an opt out copyright system? What is the point of having an automatic copyright if you can't use it to defend the work?

    Not saying I agree with ether side, just asking.

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

  2. icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), 11 Aug 2009 @ 6:30am

    Re: general question

    "What is the point of having an automatic copyright if you can't use it to defend the work?"

    You can still make them take it down, you just can't get damages. It's purely an anti-free speech measure.

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

  3. icon
    The Infamous Joe (profile), 11 Aug 2009 @ 6:30am

    Re: general question

    Here's the scoop, as I understand it: Your works are automatically copyrighted upon creation, but to enforce it, it has to be registered. After registration, you may enforce your copyright, not from the time of registration, but from the time of creation.

    I know, it makes absolutely no sense, but that's the way it is.

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

  4. identicon
    John M, 11 Aug 2009 @ 7:06am

    Here is a decent, short, rundown on Copyright law http://www.sfwa.org/beware/copyright.html

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

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Aug 2009 @ 7:07am

    Here's a poem for you... ahem....

    Poetry is a bird turd on the shoulder of the Statue of Liberty.

    Copyright 2009. All rights reserved. Can you spare some change?

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

  6. icon
    minijedimaster (profile), 11 Aug 2009 @ 7:08am

    Dr Evil Voice "One Trillion Dollars"

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

  7. icon
    aguywhoneedstenbucks (profile), 11 Aug 2009 @ 7:08am

    Re: Re: general question

    So he could go register it right now and as long as he could prove the creation date was before she used it he could try to sue her again?

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

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Aug 2009 @ 7:11am

    When you have a tank full of sharks with frigin' laser beams on their heads then 1 trillion seems reasonable.

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

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Aug 2009 @ 7:18am

    I know artists tend to have a few screws loose but I'm thinking a few bolts were missing to think 1 Trillion would fly.

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

  10. icon
    The Infamous Joe (profile), 11 Aug 2009 @ 7:19am

    Re: Re: Re: general question

    As I understand it, yes. Of course, I'm no expert, so I could be way off base. Any actual legal advice should come from your friendly neighborhood IP lawyer.

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

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Aug 2009 @ 7:19am

    publicity stunt

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

  12. identicon
    NullOp, 11 Aug 2009 @ 7:22am

    Hey!

    If your work is worth a TRILLION bucks you better well have damn copyrighted it! Automatic copyright my @ss...

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

  13. identicon
    casual bystander, 11 Aug 2009 @ 7:23am

    Hmmmm.....

    I suspect the lad was trying to get a settlement for, say, a million. Which I'm sure he would have settled for!

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

  14. icon
    Cyanid Pontifex (profile), 11 Aug 2009 @ 7:28am

    Re: Re: general question

    That sounds Ex Post Facto to me.

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

  15. identicon
    iNtrigued, 11 Aug 2009 @ 7:56am

    Re: Hmmmm.....

    I'm no lawyer, but isn't this considered extortion? Couldn't she just turn it around on him and get him thrown in jail?
    I mean this is Oprah we are talking about hear, she probably has lawyers on payroll.. hell, she probably has a judge on payroll.

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

  16. identicon
    Yakko Warner, 11 Aug 2009 @ 7:58am

    Re:

    I was going to say, not only do the *AA not go that far, but Dr. Evil didn't go that far. He was holding the world hostage, and he only asked for a hundred billion.

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

  17. identicon
    Dr. Taggert Bane, 11 Aug 2009 @ 8:00am

    Coping with disbelief

    $1T is a large number and it's possible that this man suffers from an acute case of I.D.S. or

    Irrational
    Disbelief
    Syndrome

    Please see our website for more information, and potential treatments that can be discussed with your doctor.

    Coping With Disbelief

    Thank you,

    Dr. Taggert Bane

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

  18. icon
    aguywhoneedstenbucks (profile), 11 Aug 2009 @ 8:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: general question

    No, no, I am taking it as legal advice! YOU GAVE ME LEGAL ADVICE! DON'T YOU DARE TAKE IT BACK NOW! I ALREADY STARTED MY LAWSUIT BASED ON THE LEGAL ADVICE YOU GAVE!

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

  19. identicon
    PRMan, 11 Aug 2009 @ 8:17am

    1 Trillion?

    "it's difficult not to wonder how this guy planned to substantiate the $1 trillion number"

    Easy. Maybe Oprah made 200 copies and handed it out to her audience for free. According to the RIAA's logic, that should easily top $1 trillion.

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

  20. identicon
    will, 11 Aug 2009 @ 8:21am

    bad math

    The author has a big ego and no math skills. He claims she sold 650 million copies of his poetry online for $20 a pop and he wants the 1.2 Trillion dollars she got.

    He either doesnt realize that 650 million x 20 is only 1.2 Billion. Or maybe he was going for the 1000 fold RIAA penalty assessment.

    Personally I dont understand why he doesnt sell his own work online if he believes that many people want to read it.

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

  21. identicon
    Bradley Stewart, 11 Aug 2009 @ 8:23am

    That Must Be Some Poem!

    Come on Opera be a sport. You have plenty of money. What's a measly Trillion Dollars to you. Just pay the guy.

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

  22. identicon
    Stuart, 11 Aug 2009 @ 8:32am

    Re: Re: Re: general question

    Yes.

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

  23. icon
    Pathetic (profile), 11 Aug 2009 @ 8:39am

    Can someone say abuse of a gullible press? It's a ludicrous claim, but for a couple of days this poet is going to get more exposure than they've ever had in thier lives.

    Anyone checked sales volume on Amazon for thier book(s)? Want to bet it spikes over the next couple of dats?

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

  24. icon
    The Infamous Joe (profile), 11 Aug 2009 @ 8:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: general question

    Have it your way.

    That'll be $700. :)

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

  25. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Aug 2009 @ 9:05am

    Re: Re: Hmmmm.....

    > I mean this is Oprah we are talking about hear, she probably has lawyers on payroll.. hell, she probably has a judge on payroll.

    I believe she has Jesus on her payroll.

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

  26. identicon
    MathKing, 11 Aug 2009 @ 9:23am

    Re: bad math

    Hate to correct you but.......

    650M x 20 is 13 Billion. 650M x 2 is 1.3 Billion.

    Still trying to figure out how in the hell he got to 1T... Must be an RIAA lawyer...

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

  27. icon
    Chargone (profile), 11 Aug 2009 @ 9:24am

    Re:

    glad to see i wasn't the only one who thought of that right off the bat.

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

  28. icon
    R. Miles (profile), 11 Aug 2009 @ 9:35am

    The math is...

    Even the big shots in the RIAA and MPAA don't go that far...
    Forcing someone to pay $1.2 million, when they don't have it, might has well been $1.2 trillion. Either way, it's still an asinine amount over a copyright issue.

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

  29. identicon
    Pete Austin, 11 Aug 2009 @ 10:23am

    $1.2 trillion = $20 x 60 million.

    $20 = price per copy
    60 million = Oprah's viewers(?)

    Based on this link (which gets the math wrong):
    http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/showbiz/a170375/winfrey-sued-for-one-trillion-dollars.html

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

  30. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Aug 2009 @ 10:35am

    You expect a poet to be good at math?

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

  31. identicon
    Dr. Kopp E. Wright, 11 Aug 2009 @ 5:07pm

    Pick a number....any number...

    I think that I shall never see
    a talk show host richer than Ophrah on TV
    who slipped in a little rhyme....
    now someone wants her to do time!!
    When is deminimis gonna remind the folk
    that using a few of the same words is no crime...its a joke
    Oprah you got off lucky....
    if young Shakespeare would have Copyright Office Registered...
    it might not have been so ducky! :-)

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

  32. identicon
    joe jones, 12 Aug 2009 @ 2:11pm

    need to get away

    see my name...

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

  33. identicon
    David, 15 Aug 2009 @ 6:40am

    Correction: $20 x 60 million = $1.2 BILLION.

    20 U.S. dollars * 60 million = 1.2 billion U.S. dollars.
    That’s off by a factor of a thousand.

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

  34. identicon
    jons action figures, 31 Mar 2010 @ 11:43am

    Poets and math

    Poets and math: Felix Dennis, one of top $$$ guys in the UK, that must count for something.

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


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