Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Attack of the Disney pinatas III: The final episode

When we last left off, the Dear Rich Staff was fending off an attack from intellectual property fundamentalists angry over our remark to an unauthorized maker of Disney piñatas: "on the other hand, if you keep a low profile, your use should not trigger any angry letters from Mickey." We were advised that our advice was not that far off from helping a bank robber (especially if the bank vault is packed with Goofy piñatas!) We're not saying we're concerned for our safety but we did change our phone number, hair color, and Mii avatar. 

But readers, it turns out want to hear the types of qualifying wishy washy IP risk assessment that we've pioneered on the web. As one reader wrote: 

"Whenever I have read one of your variations on the theme of 'but you probably don't have to worry about getting caught," I understood you to be saying that copyright owners usually don't waste time suing people who don't have the ability to pay damages. The key word "usually" seems to be ignored by lawyers and journalists who point to the major record labels' recent scourge of terror. But your point was never lost on me." 

A few members of the bar wrote in. One noted:

"I always say [to clients] there are two sides to these questions: the legality, and the reality. The legality is that yes, the proposed activity would be infringement, and there are arguably both legal and moral reasons not to go down that path. But the reality is that in many of these situations, no-one will know and no-one will care."

Another attorney wrote that our DIsney risk assessment was not like encouraging bank robbery (whew!)

It's more like saying de minimis non curat lex, so if your activity is sufficiently trivial, the legal issue is unlikely to be a problem--even for Disney. No harm, no foul.

Right on! It's all so bloggy!  We love our readers, even the angry ones ... and blogging sure is great when you don't have to talk about anything substantive.
RIght, we had a point. So, ennyway, we withdraw our withdrawal and we're now back to our risk assessment model. Speaking of which... we wonder about the risks associated with our Disney piñata artwork. We seem to remember a case involving the Air Pirates ... and then there was that one about the animated John Deere logo ....