by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
copying, ideas, reality tv

Reality Show Sued For Copying Idea

from the idea-vs.-expression dept

Apparently there's a "highly anticipated" reality show coming soon to US TV called My Parents Are Gonna Love You, in which contestants on the show bring a celebrity home to meet their parents, claiming the two are engaged. There's some sort of contest involved in how long the "couple" can keep family convinced that the relationship is real. Sounds... painful. However, the producers are now being sued for copyright infringement by the producers of an Italian reality show that had a somewhat (though not exactly) similar idea.

Of course, we're always told (aren't we?) by copyright system defenders that copyright only extends to the specific expression, not the idea. It seems pretty clear that this lawsuit is claiming the "idea" was copied. So now we'll get to see if the courts really do recognize that there is supposed to be an idea/expression dichotomy in copyright law...

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  • identicon
    MrWilson, 2 Nov 2010 @ 4:29pm

    This is the same problem with the lawsuits against file-sharers.

    Whether you actually violated a copyright or the filer is just batshit crazy, you still end up paying for a lawyer or a settlement.

    There's no (guaranteed) cost-free defense against this.

    When being charged with crime, there's "innocent until proven guilty." With lawsuits, it's "pay whether you did what someone has accused you of or not."

    But we don't need reforms. Everything's perfect. Oh look, a new macbook air! Shiny...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2010 @ 7:36pm

    And the cable companies still don't get why people are cutting the cord. Why would anyone want to watch that show?

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

  • icon
    Jon Lawrence (profile), 2 Nov 2010 @ 8:45pm

    Well, ain't that a bummer

    Here's what's really funny.

    There only TWO ways to make any real money in the reality television business.

    1. You happen to win the lottery of right cast, right director, right exec producers, right network and time slot and right advertising backing and you create a hit that makes it into it's 3rd season or beyond (first two seasons are generally money losers for prodco's)


    2. You build a global network of production companies in different territories so that you can continue to lose money on the US production of a show (often), but because the show "format" is licensable in other territories, the global parent company of the US production company will rake in money by making 15 versions of "Big Brother" in 15 countries, and each of those will have pay a percentage fee back to the originating production subsidiary. This is the Endemol, Freemantle, RDF, Granada, etc, model.

    #2 is frightening, because show FORMATS (ideas), are the primary currency of these companies.

    The idea/expression dichotomy being clarified (towards expression) is definitely *not* in best interest of these multi-billion dollar companies; but as an independent producer, boy do I hope for some more clarity advocating "expression" of idea as the rule of law.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2010 @ 8:47am

    If they're only claiming copyright infringement under U.S. law, they're going to have an awfully tough time, based on the description in this posting. However, California state law has afforded some protections to "ideas" and show formats for a while now, so maybe they're including some claim under that law too.

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

  • icon
    sprearson81 (profile), 10 Jun 2012 @ 8:56am

    Reality shows should all be sued for their degradation of the human race.

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

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: I Invented Email
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

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