Do You Pay Attention to Copyright Permissions? (You Should!)

Posted by Kevin Iwamoto on 11/05/2015

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Ramar Larkin Jones is the manager of a Seattle café who decided to be an event planner, and learned the hard way that — before organizing a “themed” event of any size — you have to secure appropriate licensing permissions.

Many event planners are already aware of the legal pitfalls of having themed meetings and events, and usually go through the legal motions prior to their events to avoid any last-minute surprises.

Mr. Jones — a longtime Pokémon superfan — used the Japanese video game/toy/trading card/entertainment franchise as a theme at a convention party for other fans of Pokemon. But he now finds himself being sued by the company for not securing in advance the licensing permissions.

GeekWire first reported on the case when The Pokémon Company International, Inc. claimed copyright infringement — the night before the so-called “5th Annual Unofficial Pokemon PAX Kickoff Party” was supposed to take place in August.

The irony is that Jones had arranged the party every year since 2011 for all the self-proclaimed geeks who flock to Seattle to celebrate their passion at the annual PAX convention. But none of that historic precedence matters if you haven’t secured the necessary copyright usage approvals.

Pokémon’s lawyers took issue with the event poster and Facebook posts for the event that contained pictures of Pikachu and Snivy, two of Pokémon’s copyrighted characters. In the lawsuit, Pokémon’s lawyers say they aim to “put an end to and obtain redress” for the “blatant and willful infringement.”

The bottom line — in this day and age of total media transparency via social media, any and all forms of copyright infringement are instantly documented and legally pursued by many companies who have filed trademark and copyright patents.

So even if you’re hosting or planning a small and intimate event, make sure you avoid themed parties using copyrighted characters, logos, music and slogans —  unless you’ve secured the necessary rights to use them. You don’t want a legal surprise to ruin or even cancel your event!

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