Left Shark merchandise, based on the backing dancer at Katy Perry’s halftime show, has been involved in a legal battle. According to the singer’s lawyers, she owns the copyright for the costume and nobody can sell merchandise. The Left Shark quickly took the Internet by storm due to seemingly forgetting the dance moves during Teenage Dream.
It turns out that the dancer did not forget the moves, but that has not stopped the costume from being the most talked about from the night. Many are now looking into profiting from the costume, but Perry’s legal team is acting quickly to prevent it.
Fernando Sosa started selling models of the shark through Shapeways, a 3D marketplace online. Perry’s lawyers sent him a cease-and-desist letter, which he followed right away. A cease-and-desist letter is usually the first port of call when it comes to removing copyrighted material from the internet. It is a request to remove the offending item, usually due to a copyright infringement, and can then be followed up by further legal action if the recipient does not comply. Sosa did immediately comply, but it has led to many questions over the issue.
Many people want to know whether Perry’s Left Shark merchandise can be involved in a legal battle. Does she really own the copyright of the shark?
It turns out that a costume can be copyrighted, if it is unique enough in design. Santa Clara University law professor Eric Goldman says that dancing close to the shark and it being involved in her halftime show routine is not enough. She would need to prove that she registered the copyright on the shark. Another requirement would be that she needs to show one of her employees had designed the costume for her. The lawsuit would not stand without this, and Sosa would be free to sell the merchandise.
It is not currently clear whether Perry has really filed the copyright paperwork required. It could be based on another person’s design, which would also mean that she could not register copyright.
Sosa was surprised to find out that the costume was copyrighted, but decided not to test Perry’s lawyers. He removed the product despite having 10-15 orders already. He refunded money to all his customers and cancelled their orders to avoid any legal bother.
Sosa did not have full control over the situation, though. Shapeways received the cease-and-desist letter and decided to act on it. The company did not want to deal with the singer’s lawyers, according to New York Daily News.
The designer is not giving up without a fight. He says he will discuss matters with lawyers to see if Perry does have grounds to take him to court. He will work with his own legal team to see if he can get his own design back on the market.
He said that this was the first time he had heard from lawyers. His designs are usually more politically focused, and this is the first time he has tried something mainstream. It has not put him off from trying again, despite merchandise based on Perry’s Left Shark currently being involved in a potential legal battle.
By Alexandria Ingham