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Copyright

Rejected by Disney

Disney Trip by veritasnoctis

My friend Stephanie Green is very creative. During law school, she re-wrote the words to several Disney songs to be about law and law school. She wrote a song about being a 1L that is set to the music of Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid. Her lyrics are fun and the music is beautiful. We talked about using her lyrics and my voice to record the song.

We knew the first thing we needed was a license from Disney to use its music. Disney is known for monitoring its copyrights and the general rule is “Disney never loses.” (I actually know of one person who fought Disney and won, but that’s an anomaly.) Given that we’re both legal eagles, we have no excuse for not jumping through the proper hoops to secure the rights to the music. If we recorded without their permission and tried to release it, I’m sure Disney would have laid the smack down on us.

I didn’t find Disney on American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), which is an organization that licenses music and collects royalties for over 435,000 artists. I searched Disney’s corporate website and sent them a message requesting to purchase a license for the song.

A few weeks later I received a response from Disney. They denied our request for a license. They said their policy is to not allow people to create substitute lyrics for their songs, particularly for people who are not affiliated with Disney.  They said they didn’t want to give us a license because it would lead to others making similar requests. I can understand that they don’t want to set themselves up to get a flood of requests and have to evaluate each request to determine when they’ll grant a license and monitor the licensees to ensure they’re not violating their license.

My favorite part of the letter was when Disney described our request as “wholesome.” I’m not used to seeing that descriptor used with one of my ideas.

I’m bummed that we were rejected by Disney, but I understand where they’re coming from. Hopefully we’ll find a way to make it work in the future.

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Is That Legal – Apple Store Flash Mob

Disclaimer: I am not an attorney. In accordance with ABA policy, this blog should not be viewed as legal advice. It is simply my experiences, opinions, and stuff I looked up on the internet.

(cc) Devon Christopher Adams

This past weekend, Improv AZ organized a flash mob that invaded the Apple Store in Scottsdale. Our friends at Brand X Custom T-Shirts made ours shirts that resembled the Apple Store employees’. Each participant wore a royal blue shirt with a heart on it that had a leaf coming out of the top and a bite taken out of the side. Our group of about 30 participants walked into the store in small groups and proceeded to browse around for about 30 minutes, looking at and buying merchandise. We never represented ourselves as Apple employees, but if someone mistook us for an employee, we answered their question if we could or directed them to an Apple employee. If anyone asked us what we doing, we denied any implications that were acting in conjunction with each other. At the end of our invasion, we walked out calmly, took some pictures in front of the store, and left.

Did We Trespass?
No. The Apple Store is open to do business with the public. In legal terms, we were invitees. If we were asked to leave and we refused, then we would have been trespassing.

But You Weren’t There To Shop . . .
And how many times have you gone into a store just to look around with no intention of buying anything? At least one person in our group purchased something and several others looked at products that they were possibly interested in buying in the future. Additionally, we did not do anything that interfered with other shoppers’ ability to shop or employees’ ability to work.

Did We Commit Disorderly Conduct? Unlawful Assembly?
No. You have to behave pretty badly for those charges to stick. Peacefully walking through a business that is open to the public in matching shirts is not illegal. We weren’t rioting, fighting, disrupting business, making unreasonable noise, or refusing a lawful order to disperse.

Our Shirt vs. Their Shirt (cc) Devon Christopher Adams

Did We Commit Trademark Infringement?
Apple uses the apple with the bite out of it as a symbol of the source of its goods. Our apple-heart was not indicative of the source of any goods or services. There’s no trademark infringement because we weren’t claiming anything as a trademark.

Did We Commit Copyright Infringement?
I wouldn’t be surprised if Improv AZ and/or Brand X get cease and desist letters based on copyright infringement because our design was inspired by Apple’s logo. However, I’d argue that we created a parody that is protected under the fair use doctrine. A parody needs to resemble the original in order for people to get it; thus our shirts had to resemble the Apple shirts to be funny. Improv AZ did not make any money of these shirts, and Brand X probably isn’t turning a big profit either. Additionally, Apple doesn’t sell its shirt to the general public, and there’s no way someone who wants an Apple shirt would buy ours thinking it was close enough to what they wanted.

Thank you to everyone who came out to make this event a success and to Devon Christopher Adams and Sheila Dee for shooting such wonderful pictures of the event! If you want your own apple-heart shirt, they are available at Brand X Custom T-shirts.

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