Further to posting on how everyday Web 2.0 citizens relate to copyright law (and continuing my case study on Twilight-related IP issues), I have come across another example of where the popular understanding of digital legal rights is imperfect.Â However, in this case, it looks like the copyright law – or something like it – worked in favor of the “little guy” (although in this case I suspect they were mainly little “gals” as they are Robert Pattinson fans).
To coincide with the release of the Twilight sequel (New Moon) a production company – Revolver Entertainment – released an unauthorized DVD documentary about one of the movie’s leading men, Robert Pattinson.Â The documentary is called Robsessed.Â The title of the DVD and some of the material originally posted on the DVD’s promotional website was plagiarized/copied from the Robsessed blog – an unauthorized fan blog about Robert Pattinson.
The bloggers apparently sent a cease and desist notice to Revolver and the offending material was later removed from Revoler’s blog.Â The bloggers described their complaint in terms of “plagiarism” and also called it a “crime”.Â It would seem to me that the actual legal complaint is about copyright infringement (assuming that the bloggers held copyright in the material they had posted) and potentially also TM infringement if their “robsessedpattinson.com” domain name and Robsessed fan club name could be regarded as TMs.Â Not 100% sure if they’re sufficiently related to actual commercial activity to be TMs.
If the fan club does have TMs in the “Robsessed” name, they might conceivably be able to sue the makers of the documentary for TM infringement.Â This would be worth more to them financially than the cease and desist notice re the material on Revolver’s website (which was a copyright infringement if anything).Â But here we see the complainants aim being to retain credit for their own work – and not have some unauthorized company capitalize on their work, or on the work of the object of their fan interest (Robert Pattinson).Â They did not seem to be concerned with seeking financial recompense for profits the DVD company had made using some of their intellectual property.
So to me this is another interesting example of where the realities of IP law don’t necessarily meet the social norms in the entertainment area.Â But at least the fact that copyright law exists might have encouraged Revolver to remove the copied material – even if the cease and desist letter was framed in terms of “plagiarism” rather than “copyright infringement”.