Nyan Cat Not All Sparkles and Pop Tarts - Copyright Holders Get Catty Over Scribblenauts

Looks like Warner Bros and 5th Cell Media are in a pickle, but is it justified?

Warner Bros. and independent game studio 5th Cell, responsible for the popular Scribblenauts games, were issued a copyright and trademark infringement lawsuit April 22 for using popular cat memes without permission.

Charles Schmidt and Christopher Orlando Torres, holders of the copyrights to "Keyboard Cat" and "Nyan Cat," respectively, claim that Warner Bros and 5th Cell used the cats in the Scribblenauts games without permission in the game and to promote sales. This means that the memes were used without any licenses or authorizations.

The memes, “Keyboard Cat” and “Nyan Cat,” have gained plenty of views over the internet due to their catchy, kind of annoying Youtube videos.

"That popularity makes them extremely valuable for commercial uses. Unlike WB and 5th, many other companies, respecting plaintiffs' intellectual property rights, regularly pay substantial license fees to use plaintiffs' memes,” said the plaintiffs in the complaint.

Schmidt and Torres are seeking compensation for damages with interest, as well as legal fees and an injunction against the sale and marketing of Scribblenauts products until all illegally used material has been removed.

Whether they will be awarded this is unlikely since the plaintiffs registered with the copyright office in 2010, while the original Scribblenauts was released in 2009. According to complicated legal jargon, compensation can only be rewarded if the copyright registered before the infringement occurred or within three months after the first publication released the copyrighted material.

Meme copyrighting is usually a bit of a grey area, and honestly it’s surprising to see a meme copyright holder take action against infringement. Don’t Nyan Cat and Keyboard Cat belong to everyone? In my heart, I know they do. You gotta believe!

Featured Contributor

Better dead than a damsel. I'm a Magazine Journalism student at the University of Georgia. I enjoy shooting bullymongs in the head while I'm not cuddling my cat.

Published May. 2nd 2013
  • TygerWDR
    Featured Contributor
    I'm gonna take the side of the meme guys for one reason. These corporations are the same kinds of people who, in the recent past, threatened millions of internet users with lawsuits for "stealing music" by having a radio playing in the background of a youtube video. Now they wanna turn around and steal art from people saying "Oh, it was on the internet! it was free!" If WE don't get to do it to them, they don't get to do it to us.
  • Raven Hathcock
    Featured Contributor
    I honestly agree. Having your work taken from you is a slap in the face. They should get some compensation for having their work stolen. But I'm not a judge soooo what do I know. ahaha
  • Juicy Jane
    steal art ??? where is this art y talk off ?
  • TygerWDR
    Featured Contributor
    http://www.prguitarman.com/index.php?id=348 The original nyan cat. Someone made it, and they're marketing it independently. Large companies threaten us daily for doing what they do, it's about time they got slapped in the nose with the rolled up newspaper.

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