Skip to main content

I Do Not Think HBO Understands the Meaning of that Word...

Techdirt has a post up on HBO's efforts to scour the internets of footage of the Inaugural concert.  There are more details on all things legal over at this Talking Points Memo post - which is the Inaugural committee owns the copyright and HBO has a 6 month license to it (an exclusive license I suppose).  This is a sensible arrangement - HBO gets the right to broadcast it (and thereby chipped in money for the show) and then the footage is freed up for the historical record.

But it's the footage that the copyright is in - not the event itself.  At least without seeing more documentation (which is unlikely) of contracts and releases, all HBO appears to have is a 6 month license in the copyright of the footage it shot of the performance.  Good questions for a law school exam include:

1.  Being only a licensee of the footage, can HBO go after copyright infringement or must the Inauguration Committee prosecute such claims?

2.  What's fair use of the footage -- which after all is a public event...

3.  What copyright claim does the Inauguration Committee have on any footage taken of the event NOT by HBO but by attendees in the audience?  Did the attendees agree to any terms and conditions upon entering the restricted area (where any non-HBO footage would have had to come from)?