IP lawyers around the US are enjoying a guilty pleasure: watching a battle of wits between lawyers representing Katy Perry, the pop star whose Super Bowl halftime show gave the world the Internet phenomenon known as “Left Shark” (a man in a shark costume dancing next to Katy Perry but bouncing and flapping, as it were, to his own beat), and the lawyer representing an artist who created a design for a 3D-printable figurine of a small Left Shark. (That lawyer is Chris Sprigman, @CJSprigman, from NYU Law.)
Katy Perry claims that she owns a copyright in the Left Shark costume, and she has demanded that the design for the figurine be removed from Shapeways, an online market.
Responding, Chris Sprigman makes “there is no copyright in Left Shark” arguments as clearly and carefully as they can be made, but he makes them so skillfully and with such awareness of the stakes (for the Princess? to the death?) that his side of the exchange with KP’s lawyers is nothing less than a jewel of great lawyering, presented on a public stage. He possesses, in other words, an immunity to iocane powder.
The best way to follow along is to read the blog posts of Fernando Sosa, @Amznfx, the artist. The blog includes copies of all of the correspondence. The CBC has a nice radio program covering the topic, beginning with Left Shark and expanding to a discussion of the IP aspects of 3D printing.
Left Shark figurines are available at https://www.etsy.com/shop/amznfx.