I know you want it (pt 2) | Intellectual property and business law blog

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Steve O'Donnell, Ph.D. Registered Patent Attorney

I know you want it (pt 2)

Last week you may have heard a rumble or shout off in the distance. That was the collective cheers of all intellectual property and business law professors when they heard the result of the Blurred Lines lawsuit. Not because they necessarily loved or agreed with the decision, but because it gives them something to teach other than George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord case.

I’m not sure if I think it was infringement or not. It’s easy to see copyright infringement when someone makes copies of a DVD and sells them off a blanket sitting on the sidewalk downtown, but for something like this where we’re discussing more of a derivative use of a work, copyright infringement is very subjective.

If you care at all about this case, you’ve probably already read the facts and have come to your own conclusion so I’m not going to rehash any of that here.

What I will say is that if you create something and you use something else as inspiration or a starting point, don’t brag about it.

You want to write something that sounds like AC/DC so you listen to Highway to Hell a thousand times, don’t bring that up in interviews. You want to write a sitcom about people stranded on an island so you watch Gilligan’s Island for inspiration...whatever you do, don’t talk about it. You want to write a short blog post that says pretty much the same thing as this one so you read it and copy my tone, don’t mention that on your blog.

I’m not suggesting you try to steal someone else’s ideas, but really, everything builds off of something else. What I am saying is to shut up about it. This might never have come up if Robin Thicke didn’t talk about how he wanted to make something like Got to Give it Up. That’s just inviting trouble.