Tom Brady MVP Joke Gets Copyright Protection After Reconsideration

Tom Brady MVP Trophy 2015 - Getty - H 2017
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Super Bowl XLIX is a sore memory for Seattle Seahawks fans, as many still cringe about the questionable play call that ended the game in a crushing defeat — but a comedy blogger who joked about the coach handing the victory to the opposing New England Patriots is undoubtedly smiling after his work was recently given copyright protection.

Robert "Alex" Kaseberg finally has a copyright in this quip: "Tom Brady said he wants to give his MVP truck to the man who won the game for the Patriots. So enjoy that truck, Pete Carroll."

According to a recently released decision from the U.S. Copyright Office, the federal review board in July found the work to meet the minimal degree of creativity required for copyright protection following Kaseberg's second request for reconsideration after the office had refused his application.

"Courts and the Copyright Office both have found copyright protection for jokes when the jokes are sufficiently creative," writes Catherine Rowland. "But the Board also cautions that, while it is copyrightable, the copyright in the Work is 'thin.'"

Rowland goes on to note that "thin" protection is given to works that "reflect only scant creativity" and that the board's decision is consistent with the California federal court's ruling in Kaseberg's joke theft lawsuit against Conan O'Brien.

There Kaseberg is suing O'Brien for not only allegedly using this joke, but also others involving Caitlyn Jenner and the Washington Monument. U.S. District Court judge Janis Sammartino in May granted in part and denied in part summary judgment, moving the dispute toward trial and explaining that the originality of the jokes is constrained by the "subject matter and the conventions of the two-line, set-up-and-delivery paradigm."