A Copyright Hypothetical

Consider a writer called Mr. K. He writes a parody of another writer’s work and publishes it online.

The second writer, let’s call him Mr. S, takes almost all of K’s parody and republishes in a book without permission, daring K to sue him for copyright infringement. K sells the book rights to his work to a third party, let’s call him Mr. 3, who jointly registers the copyright to K’s work with K and who does, in fact, sue S for infringement. S and 3 wind up settling the lawsuit, and S believes that he has gotten away with his infringement.

Emboldened, S registers the copyright for a second one of his books and threatens to file a lawsuit against a fourth party (Mr. G, who S believes to be K) for some imagined infringement of his second book. Because he waited almost four years after the date of first publication of his book, S is outside of the registration within three months of publication window for statuary damages. All he can claim is his actual damages from lost sales—on a book that hasn’t sold any copies for months.

K notices that S published a pdf copy online of the book containing the ripoff of his parody. Since his copyright was registered within the three month window of first publication, since S’s dare to sue opens the possibility of enhanced statuary damages of $150,000, and since K is not a party to the settlement agreement between S and 3, K realizes that he has standing to sue.

23 thoughts on “A Copyright Hypothetical

  1. I predict a major feldtdown, well, probably already in progress, or within three minutes, tops.

    There’s no doubt Mr. S. saw this post within moments of our honorable and esteemed host hitting the publish button.

    If I had nothing to do other than obsessively refresh pages belonging to people who want nothing to do with me, I certainly wouldn’t brag about it, hahahaha. In fact, I would do all I could to hide the obsession, and the pathetic lack of anything resembling what is commonly considered “having a life” outside of those people. hahahaha

    Soooooo predictable… so ignorant… so SchmalFAIL! hahahaha

  2. I’ll add a bit more.

    Without hard evidence, not just a suspicion, but incontrovertible proof that G and K are the same person, S sues G. If memory serves, S will have to cough up $400 to file suit. Claiming that he is indigent won’t work because he published what appeared to be a tax return, and concerned citizens would step up and file briefs noting this.

    Moreover, S is convinced that G lives in Illinois. Inasmuch as S is well aware of DMCA filing requirements that suit be filed in the district court in which the defendant resides (provable from S’s previous writings, all of which have been preserved), he displays bad faith by filing in Maryland instead of Illinois.

    So, we have questions about valid copyright registration, a fair use defense,hefty filing fees, and filing in the wrong district despite knowing the law. Plus, S has threatened G’s job and claimed to have contacted G’s employer.

    What are the chances that G will get a restraining order? What are the chances that if G is hauled into court,he will get attorneys’ fees and costs when S’s deliberate filing in the wrong district is revealed? What are the chances of an award of damages to G when S is unable to prove that G is K, and has been engaged in a personal jihad against a man who does not contact him at all?

    • His “articles” are still up, although it doesn’t seem like anybody is reading them.

      Looks like Bill uses lots of pictures with his “articles”, all without attribution.

      Someone should look into that.

  3. I really think K should be permitted time for the pointage and laughery to subside before he determines the proper course of action. It’s hard to think straight when you can’t breathe.

    But both options are attractive.

  4. I guess he had enough of tweeting incriminating posts for the day, he’s back protected.

    The way he’s going, tomorrow he confesses to the JFK murder and the Lindbergh Kidnapping.

  5. It is quite ironic, however, that Bill was doing multiple victory laps earlier, and then suddenly went protected. Could it possibly be that he had a moment of realization?



  6. Kafka’s protagonist in The Castle is known only as K. There are certainly Kafkaesque qualities to the business with BS and BK.

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