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A women’s clothing company is suing Canadian Broadcasting Company after a reporter for the television station snuck into a New York fashion show without an invitation and taped the event.
According to the complaint filed by Nygard International in New York district court late last week, members of the media who attended the show signed an agreement limiting their right to record the event and distribute footage without written approval. A CBC employee identifying himself as David Common and a cameraman allegedly evaded security and made an unauthorized recording. When asked to leave, the cameraman is said to have refused to go.
The event was held on private premises, so one of the grounds for this complaint is trespass.
More intriguing, perhaps, Nygard is also claiming that CBC violated the company’s copyright.
We’re reminded of professional sporting league’s restrictions on the kind of audio-video content that news outlets can transmit from inside a sporting event. Some leagues even attempt to limit descriptions of an event. However, these events derive significant revenue from big TV rights licensing deals and broadcasters who show up with their own cameras potentially interfere with these licensing arrangements.
In this case, Nygard makes the case that it was potentially damaged “because distribution of images of Plaintiff’s fashions prior to the release of those products in the marketplace could give Plaintiff’s competitors an unfair advantage and cause Plaintiff to lose control over its intellectual property, goodwill, and public image.”
Fascinating argument, and leaving aside the hot question over the IP protection on fashion designs, it could be interesting to see what a court has to say in this case. Will companies be more aggressive in making copyright claims to protect public image going forward?
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