Welcome to Pop IP Law!
If you’ve ever heard something about a celebrity or movie (or really anything in pop culture) and wondered, “How can they do that? Isn’t there a law or something,” then this is the blog for you! Pop IP Law is dedicated to exploring the intersection of intellectual property (IP) and pop culture – and there’s more overlap than you’d think. Basically, if it’s in the news and there’s an IP aspect, then there’s a fair chance I’ll write about it in this blog. I tend to update at least biweekly barring sickness, road trips, or a dearth of current topics. I’m an attorney who finds IP fascinating; since graduating from law school with an IP Certificate, I have also earned my LL.M. in IP Law with honors.
So, What is IP?
Traditionally, IP falls into one of five categories: trademarks, copyrights, patents, trade secrets, and the right of publicity.
- Trademarks are symbols used to represent the goodwill of a company or brand;
- Copyrights cover “original works of authorship” and are a set of exclusive legal rights – including reproduction (copying); preparing derivative works (adapting); distribution; public performance; public display; and digital transmission – that the copyright owner may do or authorize others to do;
- Patents are government issued grants that give the owner the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention for 20 years;
- Trade secrets are (a) information, e.g., formulas, patterns, compilations, programs, or methods, that (b) derives independent economic value from not being generally known – secret – and is (c) not easily found out by others who would find that same information valuable and (d) that is subject to reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy; and
- The Right of Publicity, which is the inherent right of every human being to control the commercial use of their identity.
I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t write about patents or trade secrets that often because they tend to involve technical things, and generally, pop culture does not involve the intricacies of cutting-edge technology. You can only write about Apple suing Samsung over phone and app patents so many times. But I promise this to you, if Jay-Z ever sues Kanye for stealing trade secrets, I’ll be all over that (also, Michael Jackson used to have a patent on this one shoe thing, but that’s not exactly current).
The great thing about IP law is that it is multidisciplinary, it crosses over into brand management, advertising, entertainment law, social media, and the internet in general. It also intersects quite a bit with constitutional law, specifically the First Amendment and the Right of Privacy, not to mention U.S. Constitution Art. I, Sec. 8, Cl. 8 – AKA The Copyright Clause of the Constitution (Patent Clause if you’re
boring a STEM major – only kidding, as a Purdue alumna I love you and your silly TI-90 calculators!). Anyways, what I’m getting at here is that there is a lot to talk about and consider, and, best of all, it’s framed by people like Katy Perry or Fireball Whisky. If this sounds like something you’d be into then please subscribe; all you have to do is click the button in the top right-hand sidebar or enter your email.
Gun shy about subscribing? Lucky for you, I’ve got an archives page so that you can click around and see if you’re picking up what I’m putting down. Or, check out one of my all-time top posts:
- “The End of the Tour:” Showdown Between Copyright and Right of Publicity;
- Graffiti Counts Too: Why Katy Perry’s MET Gala Dress is Less High Fashion and More High Crime; or
- No Sweat, Yoga Poses aren’t Copyrightable.
I’m a young attorney who has a movie and TV binge-watching problem (Netflix anyone?). I play the double bass, listen to weird music, and read a lot of Neil Gaiman. Sometimes I try to kayak, and I’m very fond of sleeping on my friends’ couches throughout the USA. I graduated from Purdue University with a double major in Political Science and French, plus a History minor. Then I got my J.D. (’14) and LL.M. in Intellectual Property (’15) at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. I enjoy researching and writing (I know – nerd alert). I have an adorable German Shepard/Pitbull mix, and I also have a special place in my heart for the Muppets – yes, even including the new TV show. I hope you enjoy my blog, and that you find it interesting and informative. If you’ve got any hot leads (or sweet jobs offers) feel free to contact me* at firstname.lastname@example.org, and don’t forget to subscribe!
*Please note I will not answer specific legal questions. That would be a breach of legal ethics and selling myself short (if you’re good at something never do it for free).