I feel like I’m scooping Jacqui here, since she’s the Madisonian Twilight expert, but I was so bothered by the recent district court decision in the Bella’s Jacket Brouhaha that I’m chiming in on the intersection of intellectual property and teen vampires.
Twilight is probably part of basic 21st century cultural literacy, so I’ll presume that, from Jacqui’s posts if from nowhere else, you’re aware of the basic contours of the very profitable films based on Stephanie Meyer’s very profitable books.
So see the jacket at right? (Image courtesy of SashaW, apparently a big fan of the films.) See that tiny hangtag on said jacket? The hangtag presents an image of Kristen Stewart, in the role of Bella, wearing the same jacket. Apparently, the jacket was originally made by BB Dakota and was formerly known as the “Leigh” jacket. Production of the jacket was discontinued prior to the making of the first Twilight film.
For some unknown (to me) reason, a costume designer in the employ of Summit Entertainment LLC (the studio responsible for the Twilight franchise) thought that Bella (Kristen Stewart) should wear the jacket in Twilight. Examples of such wearing from the film are here. And Summit used the image of Bella in her jacket as part of the promotional materials for the film, including the iconic Bella/Twilight shot, which is plastered all over the Internet.
So far so good, legally. Since fashion design is not protected by copyright law (at least at present!) and because consumers don’t think that every piece of clothing in a movie is a sponsored product placement (at least at present!), the makers of the Twilight film did not need to get a license from BB Dakota in order to use images of the jacket in the promotion of Twilight.
Does anyone know anything about IP rights (or lack thereof) in the jigsaw puzzle industry?
My son has recently become enamored with 3D puzzles and is currently working on a world globe like this one. So I was wondering if the jigsaw puzzle companies typically assert any IP rights in these creations. Obviously images on puzzles (2D or 3D) may be copyrighted if they are original and I’m sure some puzzle companies pay to license the images from others. But what about the puzzle itself? Is it a derivative work of the original image? Are aspects of puzzles patentable? I know at least one puzzle company advertises that it uses special new materials for the pieces that make them interlock more effectively. And 3D puzzles utilize particular methods for putting them together: for example, in the puzzles my son has been playing with, you can construct the puzzle either by image or by number (the backs of the pieces have consecutive numbers and arrows on them so you can use those as a guide for putting it together). Is that a patentable method of some kind? Presumably, in countries whose patent systems specifically exclude rules for playing games from patentability on subject-matter grounds (eg in the UK), these kinds of methods would not be patentable.
Anyone have any thoughts about copyrightability or patentability of puzzles?
This morning as I was being ordered by my four year old to put on her Little Mermaid video, she explained to me: ”Mommy, you don’t copy this DVD or you go in jail.” I’d say the content industries’ message is getting through loud and clear.
Further to Greg’s post on the Brown v EMA decision, I thought it might be worth mentioning, by contrast, the position in Australia where violent and sexually explicit video games have typically been banned from sale within the country. The federal and state governments are now considering the introduction of an R18+ rating for these games (a rating that has previously been in place for movies but not games). This would allow the sale of these games to adults, but not minors within Australia. Australia does not have an express constitutional guarantee of free speech, unlike the United States. Thus, governments are able to make content-based restrictions on speech. Paradoxically, the lack of a free speech protection in Australia enables the government there to protect minors in a way that governments in the United States cannot.
The E.U. Parliament has just adopted a Directive that is intended to better protect consumer rights in relation to digital content. The text of the Directive is available here. There is also a summary by Natali Helberger here.