Parodies or infringement

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos • Alwine P.L.

Parodies are protected under the First Amendment, according to a Florida Company accused of infringement against a popular singer. With the increasing popularity of casual gaming on smart phones, the gaming industry reaches out to those who are not hardcore gamers. Films, albums, and other arenas often include a smart phone app in their advertising arsenal.

A Florida company released a game with a name and a cartoon likeness similar to Justin Bieber. Bieber’s attorney handed the company a “cease and desist” notice, which gave the developer two days to remove the app from the market. The notice threatened legal action by Bieber if the gaming company did not remove the app within two days.

The gaming company refused to do so. It also argued that its title was protected under the United States’ First Amendment. It based its claim on a United States Supreme Court ruling that said video games were products of expression, just like movies, music and books. When that ruling came out in June 2011, it received a great amount of press coverage because it knocked out another state’s law restricting violent game sales to minors.

The Florida company maintains that the app is not an infringement, but does poke fun at the singer. The game is available on the App Store, and allows “Beaver” to sign “otter-graphs” and tilt against “photo-hogs.”

Source: GameZebo, “Joustin’ Beaver drama continues as RC3 files pre-emptive lawsuit against Justin Bieber” Nadia Oxford, Feb. 28, 2012