Copyright law is a complicated mess at times, which allows for it to be abused and manipulated by big corporations. But anyone can file a claim, no matter who they are or how frivolous the claim may be. Here are nine strange copyright controversies.
If you think you know copyright law, think again. #9 will leave you speechless.
John Fogerty vs. John Fogerty (Sort of)
The CCR lead singer was sued in ’88 for allegedly ripping off his own music. The owner of CCR’s old label, Saul Zantz, felt that Fogerty’s solo single “The Old Man Down the Road” lifted its melody from the CCR song “Run Through the Jungle.” Though Fogerty won, the case had its basis in Saul owning the copyright to the CCR track even though Fogerty was the one who wrote it.
The Fine Brothers vs. YouTube
The Fine Brothers are a YouTube duo who popularized (some say invented) react videos. In January ’16 they went a step further and announced they would be trademarking and licensing the react video concept. This went over very poorly, costing the channel thousands of subscribers. The brothers retracted all claims and apologized shortly after.
Princess vs. Titanic
Princess Samantha Kennedy (she’s not royalty, that’s just her name) filed suit against Paramount Pictures because they allegedly lifted scenes from her unpublished novel for Titanic. She wanted two-billion dollars and all copies of the film destroyed. Courts found no substantial similarities between the works and pointed out that Princess had tried a similar trick with Forest Gump in ’94.
Universal Studios vs. Nintendo
When Nintendo began porting their arcade hit Donkey Kong to home consoles Universal Studios sued for royalties, claiming that Donkey Kong ripped-off their film King Kong. How Universal lost: the studio had successfully argued that King Kong was in the public domain years earlier.
Hangover Part II
Tattoo artist S. Victor Whitmill sued Warner Bros. for using a tattoo he made (and had trademarked) for Mike Tyson. The studio originally offered to digitally alter the tattoo for home release but settled shortly before the film’s theatrical release. Many thought the case strange or baseless at the time but the point stood: Whitmill’s copyright was valid.