The copyright infringement lawsuit against Gawker Media filed earlier this week by celebrities Eric Dane and Rebecca Gayheart raised a number of legal questions for bloggers and the media. We wanted answers, so we asked Jonathan D. Reichman, a partner at intellectual property law firm Kenyon & Kenyon specializing in copyright law, to weigh in on the merits of the case.
After reading the suit, which Gawker posted online, Reichman said he was surprised Dane and Gayheart went after the media company for copyright infringement instead of other claims, like invasion of privacy or violation of right of publicity, which is a celebrity’s right to control how his likeness is used commercially.
“The unique thing about this case is that Eric and Rebecca are putting all of their eggs in the copyright infringement basket,” Reichman said. “They could have sued for publicity rights or privacy rights. Usually in these cases you see celebrities alleging defamation or liable or slander. I don’t see any of those claims.”
Reichman said that if he were Dane and Gayheart’s attorney, he would have at least added the additional claims for good measure. What Dane and Gayheart’s attorney Martin Singer did do, however, was register their sex tape with the Library of Congress and obtain a copyright. Reichman said that obtaining a copyright is fairly easy and copyright infringement is “an easy claim to assert, on paper.”
But will it hold up in court? And what defenses does Gawker have against it? Reichman explains, and suggests what Gawker’s next steps should be, after the jump.