‘Stars Earn Stripes’ a short-lived NBC television series where celebrities test their mettle against one another in a military-style boot camp, has recently had its day in court against charges from a New York City police officer who claimed that he came up with the concept first. Despite the show being a remarkable failure critically and commercially NBC could still be found responsible for damages if the police officer’s lawsuit is successful. The network claims that the basic premise is too simple to copyright, but many reality shows find themselves being sued for having too similar a premise to another series. This has been especially problematic in reality television, which is often criticized for simplistic, unoriginal premises.
Even though many viewers struggle to know the difference between shows as similar as ‘American Idol’ and ‘X Factor’ courts have been skeptical to award damages for such claims for fear of setting dangerous legal precedents. Copyrights are only as good as the originality of the content being protected, and in many cases it’s impossible to claim that one celebrity competition series is any less creative than the other. This hands-off approach has only encouraged the proliferation of similar programs, a struggle that scripted programs have been facing since the advent of television itself. While it is difficult to protect this kind of intellectual property from imitators there is still the threat of online piracy to contend with as well. Popular reality shows such as ‘The Voice’ or ‘The Amazing Race’ are favorites with large online fandoms that download the show in record numbers. In many cases these downloads are an infringement on existing copyrights and registered trademarks and shared through controversial file-sharing sites such as The Pirate Bay. Audio, video, images, logos, and even simple data are victims to widespread infringements online. Proper protection and copyright enforcement are needed to ensure any other potential loss of income and monetization due to piracy.
Able to track internet traffic and file exchanges, Copyright Enforcement Group (CEG-TEK INTL.) is a valuable resource for business intelligence and copyright protection expertise. One of the most common solutions is sending out takedown notices to attempt to receive some monetization for lost income to piracy. This is in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) which makes internet records publicly available. In addition to large files such as films or music, even a simple logo can be shared and used without permission from the registered trademark holders. CEG TEK INTL is one of the most trustworthy brands in this new field and has been enormously successful in creating solutions to the piracy problem.
In some ways copyright enforcement is about picking your battles. Legal challenges to intellectual property like ‘Stars Earn Stripes’ are inevitable in the cutthroat television business, but online piracy poses a more legitimate and realistic threat to the future of content than imitators from competitive networks. It remains to be seen whether ‘Stars Earn Stripes’ will be found to be an infringement or not. However, the questions posed by this lawsuit will continue to be asked for many years to come.