A recent FTC complaint has generated questions about the legality and effects of blanket copyright warnings issued by large sports and media companies. Copyright warnings from the NFL, MLB, and major motion picture studios often assert that no use whatsoever of their materials can be made without express permission, contrary to several provisions of U.S. copyright law. This comment proposes limiting the content and language of such warnings so consumers have a clearer view of what copyright law allows, and are not intimidated into foregoing their rights to use protected works. Exceptions like fair use and the idea-expression dichotomy prevent copyright holders from completely prohibiting all uses of their copyrighted materials. Companies making these claims may be guilty of copyright misuse, a doctrine that offers courts the opportunity to scale back aggressive copyright warnings.
Cory Tadlock, Copyright Misuses, Fair Use, and Abuse: How Sports and Media Companies are Overreaching Their Copyright Protections, 7 J. Marshall Rev. Intell. Prop. L. 621 (2008)