Transformation, Copyright, and the Right of Publicity in the Digital Age

April 11, 2012 7:00 pm

Copyright Law and Fair Use with Daniel Nazer, CIS Resident Fellow

Could you put a real person--say Bill Gates--in a computer game? How about a comic book? In both cases, it would be risky to do so without permission from Gates. But what if you transformed Bill Gates into a half man/half worm creature? Strangely, you could probably do that without paying Gates a penny. This doesn't make much sense. Why should transforming Bill Gates into a worm creature make the difference? This weird rule is the result of a test from copyright law--transformation--colonizing other areas of the law.
In copyright law, something is more likely to be fair use if it somehow "transforms" the original work. Similarly, in right of publicity cases, courts are increasingly looking to whether the depiction of a celebrity is somehow "transformative." Nazer will argue that this transformation test is applied in a way that threatens free speech in the digital age.
This event is open to the public, totally free to attend, and is part of a Lecture Series sponsored by the Entrepreneurship Program at Cogswell.

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Cogswell Polytechnical College
1175 Bordeaux Dr
Sunnyvale, CA

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