Monday, February 16, 2015

Bart Ska-mpson and Why You'll Never Enjoy TV Again After Taking a Law School IP Class

Portlandia---a television show that depicts Portland, Oregon, in what might find a cringingly accurate (yet lovable) way---had an excellent segment that featured artist/bike messenger Spyke (1) being sued by Matt Groening for copyright infringement because Spyke was screen printing shirts featuring Bart Ska-mpson, and (2) stopping by his local law library (!) to research and prepare for the copyright trial.

The concept is great: "the man" suing the street artist for copyright infringement. But as you'll soon discover after taking an intellectual property class in law school, the accuracy of the law is shunted to the side in favor of the story.

Problem number one: the trial is not necessarily set in federal court. Instead, it's in "Portland Courthouse South-west Portland." Not a big problem, I know, but it sets the tone. And then I spent the rest of the episode analyzing the legal claims.

So if a career in copyright law doesn't pan out, consider being a consultant for television and movies. You too can help improve stories by enhancing their legal accuracy!