Cracked Lists Examples Of Bad Copyright... Without A Single Actual Example Of Copyright

from the right-idea,-wrong-label dept

Sloppy use of the term "copyright" is nothing new. Plenty of people use the word incorrectly, usually by treating it as interchangeable with "intellectual property" and lumping patents and trademarks in with copyrights. While this is often a minor mistake that doesn't affect the message being conveyed, it's still wrong, and in a world where intellectual property is becoming a hotter topic of discussion, it's the sort of thing publications should really be more careful about. So it's amusing but somewhat annoying to see the popular comedy site Cracked (which has tackled such topics before) publish a list of "Things You Won't Believe Are Copyrighted"... without a single example that actually involves copyright. Of the five examples listed, three are about trademarks and two are about patents, and while the article makes some effort to distinguish the difference, it misuses the word "copyright" multiple times throughout. It also erroneously claims that "copyright law" is in the U.S. constitution—another common mistake that we see all the time, and which copyright maximalists would love you to believe is true.

Of course, in typical Cracked fashion, the article still includes some fantastic and hilarious passages about topics that will be familiar to Techdirt readers, such as their introduction to the problem of patents over genes in living organisms:

We've all had that moment where we're looking at an infomercial on TV and we think, "A blender that's also a hat? I thought of that first! I should have gotten a patent." It takes a special kind of person to proclaim the same thing while visiting a zoo, though.

And, more specifically, patents that cover elements of human DNA:

How the hell is that possible? Well, it's argued that when a gene is removed from the body and isolated, it becomes a separate chemical entity that can be patented. You know, like when you take someone else's lamp from their house and isolate it, it automatically becomes yours. Then you rent that lamp for thousands of dollars to people trying to do cancer research.

Or the fight over the trademark on the word "YUUUP!" between Dave Hester and Trey Songz:

Having carefully analyzed both sounds, we've reached the conclusion that they both sound like dickwads. Also, if Songz decides to agree to Hester's terms, what the hell is he supposed to tell him? "Yeppers"?

So while it's nice to see Cracked paying attention to these stories and bringing wider attention to the abuse of intellectual property law, while also offering some laughs, I hope that in future they'll try a little harder to be accurate—especially when, just last week, they had another article calling out other media for inaccurate/incomplete reporting. There was no need to keep referring to "copyright" throughout an article that has absolutely nothing to do with it, and conversely, there are plenty of actual examples of ridiculous copyright abuse to form one of the site's trademark lists (see what I did there?)

Filed Under: copyright, patents, trademark

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The First Word

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  1. icon
    Leigh Beadon (profile), 17 Oct 2012 @ 1:31pm

    Re: Cracked does what they say

    Cracked writers have said in their articles that they're not necessarily required to fact check, and articles can be opinion based. I know they quite often pride themselves because they do at times put out heavy fact checked and cited articles, but their main focus is comedy.

    I know, and that's why I wasn't really very harshly critical of them here. I still think it was a good article. But this is not a matter of some obscure error that needs to be picked up by fact checking -- this is them referring to a bunch of stuff as copyright even though they clearly have the knowledge of the situations to know that they aren't about copyright at all. It's kind of a silly mistake to make. It's like if they had an article called "The 5 Most [Whatever] Reptiles" and all the items were amphibians.

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