Law & Speculative Fiction Round-up

This week we ask the ageless question–“Is the Batmobile protected by copyright?”–and wonder whether our only hope against drones may be that the eagles are coming.

batmobile

Supreme Court asked to consider Batmobile copyright case

By Kevin Melrose at Comic Book Resources

A manufacturer of unlicensed Batmobile replicas has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to determine whether Batman’s signature vehicle is indeed protected by copyright.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Mark Towle of Gotham Garage filed a writ of certiorari today asking the justices to review his nearly five-year-old dispute with DC Comics.

Towle, who produced replicas of  the 1966 and 1989 Batmobiles that sold for as much as $90,000 each, was sued in 2011 by DC, which claimed copyright and trademark infringement, trademark counterfeiting and unfair competition. Towle had argued that the U.S. Copyright Act doesn’t protect “useful articles,” defined as objects that have “an intrinsic utilitarian function” (forexample, clothing, household appliances or, in this case, automobile functions); in short, that the Batmobile’s design is merely functional.

However, a federal judge didn’t buy that argument, ruling in February 2013 that, “The ‘functional elements’ – e.g., the fictional torpedo launchers, the Bat-scope, and anti-fire systems – are only ‘functional’ to the extent that they helped Batman fight crime in the fictional Batman television series and movies.”

In his petition to the Supreme Court, Towle insists that the U.S. Copyright Office states outright that automobiles aren’t copyrightable, and that the Ninth Circuit simply created an arbitrary exception. He also argues that there have been “dozens” of Batmobiles in DC comic books over the decades that “vary dramatically in appearance and style”

Read the full article.

 

 

Eagles. Versus. Drones.

By Elie Mystal at Above the Law Redline

“[J]oking aside, our ability to keep unwanted drones off of our property is severely limited by the FAA. Drones are classified as “aircraft,” and that makes shooting down an unwanted drone closer to shooting down a passenger jet than it is to ripping up a lawn sign somebody placed in your front yard.

But while drones might be protected from random rifle fire, they might not be protected from the awesome force of nature. . . .

The Dutch police have joined forces with Guards From Above, a firm in the Hague who specialize in training birds of prey for private security, to help protect the skies from rogue drones. With some training, the eagles recognize the drones as prey, which they then disable with their talons and return to a safe place.

So far, the project is just a trial, with the police assessing whether they want a full fleet of drone-busting birds of prey.

You’re a drone enthusiast? WELL I’M A FALCONRY ENTHUSIAST, BITCH!

In America, I wouldn’t suggest you go out and buy a hawk right away. Falconry is a highly regulated sport and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act requires many hoops to jump through before you can train your own drone killing biotech. . . .

Read the full post.

 

In the drone wars, the eagles swing the balance of power back toward the Dutch

By Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution

As tech firms and law enforcement experiment with radio jammers and net-wielding interceptor drones to take down rogue quadcopters, police in the Netherlands are trialling a simpler solution: eagles. The country’s law enforcement has teamed up with a raptor training company named Guard From Above to see if birds of prey can be used to safely intercept quadcopters.

Read the full post.

 

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About H.P.

Blogs on speculative fiction books at Every Day Should Be Tuesday.
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