Hypothetical Copyright (or Trademark) Question

Even though it should go without saying due to the title, this is purely hypothetical. I, unfortunately, am not the creator of a semi-popular and financially successful work.

So let’s say I create semi-popular draws medium out of a hat video game, and I have a few community pages. Facebook, Twitter, a blog, whatever. Sometimes I link to fan art or fan videos of my game. A very well done fan work is done with background music from rolls dice The Lion King. I think it’s excellent and link it saying “Check this out!” from my community page.

For the trademark case, let’s say they did a really cool picture with Mickey Mouse or the Disney Logo in it.

Assuming that I’m not hosting the content on my site (but I may or may not have embedded the link with an image or video embed tag), can I get in trouble for copyright/trademark infringement? Am I technically using another company’s work to advertise my own without consent? Yes, I know, case by case basis etc, just give me what’s probable.

I can see it both ways. On one hand, I didn’t commission or make anything, I just thought something was cool and shared it with my fans, it’s the artist that’s on the hook for whatever fallout might occur (though I suppose I may have to comply with a DMCA takedown request if it comes to it). On the other hand, I am condoning it, and if the fans like it and share it it would be free advertising which is what a community page is more or less for. Is there any precedent for a case like this?

To make sure the terms are clear, I, the owner or official representative of the company linked, from a page belonging to the company, to a work made by a non company member, this isn’t a case where a random user linked something cool on the official forums or something.

Check this page:


Bottom line - if the person who created the infringing work doesn’t have much cash, and you do, the copyright/trademark owner may come after you both. You are a more attractive defendant to the plaintiff because you have a successful business and therefore deeper pockets. You would probably win in the end, but it might be worth their while to try to go after you anyway.

In the real world, the trademark holder will first ask the other site to take down the image and/or ask you to remove the link. If that’s ignored, they can go to court.

Trademark law is very different from copyright law. Anything you do that may imply that the company is associated with you or allowing or approving your use of their work might be a violation. And trademark must be zealously protected. IOW, the company can’t allow any infringement or possible infringement to slide by or else it can be used as a precedent. Copyright doesn’t work like this. So as Chuck says, if they find out about this a lawyer will contact you. You, because you are the one using the infringing work for commerce.

It has nothing to do with deeper pockets, though. That might work in a civil lawsuit but doesn’t apply here.

I’m confused by this statement. A claim of trademark infringement is a civil claim.

Lawyers will go after the infringer because they have to. It’s not a monetary issue. I’m saying that people sue companies instead of individuals because that’s where the money is, but I don’t see how that applies here, even if both types of cases are civil rather than criminal.

I used civil lawsuit to indicate those cases as opposed to a trademark infringement takedown order. That might be less precise than a lawyer would put it but I don’t see that it’s wrong.

Say “request” instead of “order” and that’s clearer. (Only a court or other legal authority can issue an order.) But very often such requests are just part of the whole process of a lawsuit.

The standard phrasing for all reports of acting under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act is to issue a DMCA takedown order. Is that specific to the DMCA or also imprecise? If it’s imprecise then I’m afraid you’ve lost the battle in common speech.

The DMCA provides a NOTICE and takedown system. Neither a copyright holder nor an online service provider issues an order under the DMCA.

When you’re talking about the law, it’s the legal definitions of words that are relevant, not lay usage.

That’s a nice sentiment and abstractly I agree with you.

But we’re not in court and lay usage is going to be used in the lay world, whether you like it or not. This has nothing to do with the law; it’s true for every profession and every jargon.

Moreover, if all you ever read is the phrase “DMCA takedown order” then you have to understand the lay usage to understand what you are reading. That begs the question of whether the lay usage is right or not. And if all you know of begs the question is the original sense of petitio principii you wouldn’t understand what I just said.

You may be technically correct. You are welcome to come into threads and correct lay usage, and I mean that sincerely. But this battle was lost long, long ago.