The Intellectual Property Law Server

Welcome, Guest. Please Login or Register.
Nov 12th, 2019, 1:59pm

Forums Forums Help Help Search Search Members Members Calendar Calendar Login Login Register Register
   Intellectual Property Forums
  
  
Is it Patentable?
(Moderators: Forum Admin, JimIvey, JSonnabend)
   Television Show
« Previous topic | Next topic »
Pages: 1 2  Reply Reply Send Topic Send Topic Print Print
   Author  Topic: Television Show  (Read 1238 times)
MichaelC
Guest
Television Show
« on: Dec 2nd, 2005, 12:41pm »
Quote Quote Modify Modify Remove Remove

I am under the impression that American Idol is some how protected by law. Is this true?
 
Is it possible to patent or protect a television show or idea. How indepth could it go? Just the idea, or methods used, what about the method of voting on a particular singer?
IP Logged
JimIvey
Moderator
Senior Member
*****




  jamesdivey  
WWW

Posts: 2584
Re: Television Show
« Reply #1 on: Dec 2nd, 2005, 1:38pm »
Quote Quote Modify Modify

Well, the recordings of the show are copyrighted (most likely).  In other words, you probably can't record a season on your TiVo, burn to DVD and sell on ebay without really annoying the producers of American Idol and probably getting into serious trouble.
 
I'm guessing the name "American Idol" is a trademark, probably registered (or in the process of being registered).  So, if you want to have a competitive singing reality TV show, you probably can't call your show "American Idol" or anything so similar to "American Idol" to make people think it comes from the same production company.  I'm guessing "African American Idol", "Asian American Idol", "American Idle", etc. are all off-limits.
 
Beyond that, I'm not sure what's protectable.  The protectable "expression" under copyright law generally isn't limited to exact duplication of the recorded shows but can stretch into more abstract things like the ideas of competitive singing in front of a panel of judges and a live audience.  However, the protection afforded by copyright is limited to things that are "original."  In this case, the show is clearly derivative of The Gong Show and Star Search and perhaps countless other competitive entertainment shows.  I'm sure the owners of American Idol would beg to differ.  That's why we have courts and lawyers, to help resolve these differences of opinion in a peaceful manner.
 
On the method of voting, I think that's just too general for copyright protection.  It's possible that they have patents pending for some voting techniques, but I think I've seen toll calls used for audience voting at least 10 years ago.  I would be surprised to see any patents in the technology used by American Idol to be uniquely associated with American Idol.
 
Regards.
« Last Edit: Dec 2nd, 2005, 1:41pm by JimIvey » IP Logged

--
James D. Ivey
Law Offices of James D. Ivey
http://www.iveylaw.com
Isaac
Senior Member
****




   


Posts: 3472
Re: Television Show
« Reply #2 on: Dec 2nd, 2005, 6:26pm »
Quote Quote Modify Modify

I think I disagree with Jim a little concerning the scope of protection for a television show concept under copyright law.
IMO under US law, copyright offers essentially no protection for the concept of a TV show.  While copyright would prevent the copying
of a description of a show, it would not prevent someone from performing a show based on that description.
 
Other countries may be more willing to protect such a show using copyright laws.
IP Logged

Isaac
JSonnabend
Moderator
Senior Member
*****




   
Email

Posts: 2251
Re: Television Show
« Reply #3 on: Dec 5th, 2005, 8:43am »
Quote Quote Modify Modify

Quote:
The protectable "expression" under copyright law generally isn't limited to exact duplication of the recorded shows but can stretch into more abstract things like the ideas of competitive singing in front of a panel of judges and a live audience.

It's hornbook law that ideas are not protectable by copyright, only the expression of ideas.  Sometimes, the expression of an idea is so close to the idea itself that the two merge, rendering copyright protection unavailable.  I think that is most definitely the case of singing in front of a panel of judges.
 
- Jeff
IP Logged

SonnabendLaw
Intellectual Property and Technology Law
Brooklyn, USA
718-832-8810
JSonnabend@SonnabendLaw.com
JimIvey
Moderator
Senior Member
*****




  jamesdivey  
WWW

Posts: 2584
Re: Television Show
« Reply #4 on: Dec 5th, 2005, 10:05am »
Quote Quote Modify Modify

I've said this before somewhere in here...  I think it's too simplistic to say that ideas are unprotectable.  I know it's "hornbook law" -- one of the foundational tenants of intellectual property law as learned by law students.  However, I find it to be a somewhat useless rule -- copyright people often spout that the expression is protectable, not the underlying idea.  Unless you fully understand what copyright law means by "expression" and "idea", this statement is of little or no help.  I suppose, if I had spent years studying and arguing the distinction, I'd have some gestaltian understanding of the distinction, much like I do about the concept of "obviousness".  But I didn't, so I don't.
 
Somewhere I read an alternative framing of the issue of expression vs. idea -- and I really should have remembered who presented that framing.  It was someone that all law students and lawyers would recognize -- perhaps Learned Hand.  The alternative framing was varying levels of abstraction of an idea.  A idea with very little abstraction is an expression.  An idea with too great a level of abstraction is unprotectable.  Somewhere in the middle is that line that separates the protectable from the unprotectable.  
 
The reason I bristle at the broad statement that ideas are unprotectable is that such is precisely what I've done for a living now for 15 years -- turn ideas into protectable property.  So, outside of copyright law with the specific meaning attributed to "idea" in that context, I don't think that statement is quite true.
 
Regards.
 
P.S.  All this is based on the assumption that Whelan is still good law or at least hasn't been abandoned altogether.  My apologies if that's not the case.
« Last Edit: Dec 5th, 2005, 10:07am by JimIvey » IP Logged

--
James D. Ivey
Law Offices of James D. Ivey
http://www.iveylaw.com
Pages: 1 2  Reply Reply Send Topic Send Topic Print Print

« Previous topic | Next topic »
Powered by YaBB 1 Gold - SP 1.3.2!
Forum software copyright 2000-2004 Yet another Bulletin Board