Feb 23, 2015
Jennifer Brown, Canadian Lawyer
Following on the instant sensation of pop star Katy Perry’s halftime show sidekick – a blue shark with his own agenda, which became known as “Left Shark” – U.S.-based 3-D printing artist Fernando Sosa seized on the Internet buzz and created small versions of the shark as figures for sale.
But before the characters could surface to consumers, last week CBC reported Perry’s lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter to the company – New York-based Shapeways – and its printing artist Fernando Sosa. The orders were cancelled and customers got their money back.
While there are some unique issues in the Katy Perry shark case, many are the same basic issues faced in every copyright case, says John Cotter, a partner in the IP practice at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP.
Those issues include: Does copyright subsist? Who owns it? Has it been infringed?
“Copyright is owned by the creator,” says Cotter. “If it is an employee it’s owned by their employer and whoever owns it can always assign their copyright. In any case like this those are always the questions the lawyers are asking,” he says. “Where is the chain of title? You would need to see that to assess whether she’s got the ownership in the copyright to assert.”
He says it’s another example of new technology that makes copying easy and affordable, and as a result there will be issues.
“We see it every time there is a new form of technology that comes along that facilitates making copies. In the past it has been music, movies – now it’s 3-D printing, and it will allow people to make copies of a whole host of different objects.”
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