People howled when word spread that the creators of Nyan Cat and Keyboard Cat were suing Scribblenauts over the unauthorised use of those memes in the series’ latest game. Frivolous lawsuit! Well, think of it this way: Big Video Game is finally getting sued by the little guy — for copyright infringement.
That is how Christopher Orlando Torres, the holder of the copyright to Nyan Cat (yes, it is copyrighted and yes, memes may be copyrighted) argues it in his statement on the lawsuit, which came to light on Thursday. He says he and the creator of Keyboard Cat are suing 5th Cell, the makers of Scribblenauts, because the studio and publisher Warner Bros. acted “as if we had no rights in characters we created”.
“I have no issues with Nyan Cat being enjoyed by millions of fans as a meme, and I have never tried to prevent people from making creative uses of it that contribute artistically and are not for profit,” Torres writes on his personal Tumblr. “But this is a commercial use, and these companies themselves are protectors of their own intellectual property.”
He does have a point there.
“Just because popularity with millions of fans has caused Nyan Cat and Keyboard Cat to become famous by virtue of their viral or meme nature, doesn’t give these companies a right to take our work for free in order to make profits for themselves,” he continued, “especially considering too that they would be the first to file lawsuits against people who misappropriate their copyrights and trademarks.”
Also pinned on point.
Nyan Cat was a valid copyright as of 2011. (Torres also holds copyrights to Pirate Nyan Cat, Mummy Nyan Cat, Pumpkin Nyan Cat, Zombie Nyan Cat, Christmas Nyan Cat, Cool Jazz Nyan Cat, Rasta Nyan Cat and Disco Nyan Cat.) He notes the irony of Scribblenauts advising players that they the game will not summon “copyrighted materials” by writing them on the notepad. His claim is over the use of Nyan Cat in Scribblenauts Unlimited, which released for 3DS, Wii U and PC in November last year. Charles Lamarr Schmidt has held the copyright to Keyboard Cat since 2010.
“There are many reputable companies that have respected our rights and negotiated fees to use our characters commercially,” Torres said. “Warner Bros. and 5th Cell should have done the same.”
One follower of Torres noted that when “some random troublemaker” got the original Nyan Cat video taken down from YouTube on a bogus DMCA complaint, Torres “fought with everything he had to get them to put it back up, because he wasn’t the one who took it down … all while dealing with death threats and such” from those who assumed he was. “So yeah, they would have to screw him pretty hard to have pushed him far enough to make him sue anyone.”
A Legal Dispute I’ve Been Going Through [prguitarman.tumblr.com]