I confessed in an earlier post about my lack of commitment to the more traditional competitive events surrounding sports in And The Grammy® Goes To. If the GRAMMYs® are my Super Bowl, then the Academy Awards® are my Olympics. They are this Sunday. Yippee!
I especially get excited for this awards show because the entire production and participants are submerged in intellectual property issues. You have the obvious copyright issues in the films themselves. This includes not only the films in their entirety, but also broadcasting clips of the films and the actors along with the music those clips contain. You have the choreography of the awards show – the opening number and the rundown of the nominations for Best Original Song, which is usually accompanied by at least a few dance breaks. Let’s not forget the fashion! While overall designs are not subject to copyright protection, prints may be subject to copyright and/or trademark protection.
It is undeniable that the star of the night will be that little gold man known as Oscar®. When I am lecturing, the Oscar® is one of my favorite examples to use because it serves as an example of something that is both a copyright and a trademark. Therefore, if you are to infringe then you are subjecting yourself to both copyright and trademark infringement at the same time.
As detailed in Feature Friday – Five Facts on Copyright and Trademark Law copyright law protects creative works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Section 17 U.S.C. §101 details the group Oscar© would fall under as “pictorial, graphic and sculptural works.” The category is very broad including maps, globes, models, technical drawings and art reproductions, just to name a few. From the definition, you can see how the Oscar© falls into the category of sculptural works worthy of protection from the Copyright Act.
If you had any doubt, the website for the Academy Awards states, “The Academy has the sole and exclusive right to reproduce, manufacture, copy, sell, display images of and publish said statuette in any size or medium, whether in three or two dimensions, and to distribute or exploit the statuette or reproductions of same by gift, sale, license or otherwise. No reproduction, replica, drawing, photograph, derivative work or other copy of the Award of Merit statuette may be made or used by any manufacturer, advertiser, organization or individual except in accordance with these regulations or under express written license from the Academy.” Sound familiar? The language in the first sentence mimics language directly from the Copyright Act of 1976, as detailed in Magic Wands of Copyright.
In addition to being under copyright protection, the Oscar® serves the added purpose of functioning as a trademark for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Earlier posts, HERE and HERE, explained a trademark is not simply a word. It can be any word, symbol, color, device and sometimes even a smell to designate source. It designates what company is associated with the product and what kind of quality you can expect. For Oscar®, that trademark comes in the form of a little gold statuette. You do not need any other explanation when you see the little guy to know the source of that statuette is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and is one of the highest honors one can receive in the film industry.
I have written more compelling titles for blog posts, haven’t I? I found a great deal of restrictions even in what I could do in order to explain how the awards show statuette is a copyright and a trademark at the same time, while researching this post. Those restrictions explain my more than cryptic title for this week. Some of those guidelines outlined how I could title this blog post:
“The marks “OSCAR®” and “OSCARS®” (as related to the Academy’s motion picture award) may not be used in the title or subtitle of any magazine, online or digital publication, commercial web site, stage production, video, television program or motion picture not produced by the Academy.” [Emphasis in underlining added]
“The marks “ACADEMY AWARD®” and “ACADEMY AWARDS®” may be used in the title or subtitle of a magazine, online or digital publication, commercial web site, stage production, video, television program or motion picture with the written consent of the Academy.” [Emphasis in underlining added]
To read the full list of rules, how the statuette can appear and other regulations, please visit THIS page on Oscars.org. And, for my due diligence … you should know that in writing this blog post the words “Academy Awards®” “Oscar®” “Oscars®” are subject to copyright, trademark and service mark registration, ©A.M.P.A.S.®. Neither this blog post nor any portion of the blog as a whole is associated with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences or endorsed by the organization. If you made it this far in the post, you know the purpose is to merely inform, explain and educate readers. 🙂 Feel free to read more on my Disclaimer page.
Be sure to follow me on Twitter this Sunday as I tweet during the program and Stay Tuned In!
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Don’t usually think about the copyright properties of the Oscar. Always think of it in TM context. Nice column:)
Thank you, Will!