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Case Study – Copyright Law

Case Study – Copyright Law

Birmingham Cougars’ usage of video highlights containing Clark’s licensed logo is protected under the fair use doctrine. The fair use doctrine permits the unlicensed use of copied material or content without the original owner’s knowledge or permission within specific circumstances. Such circumstances include entertainment, original content parody, teaching, research, scholarship, and commentary (U.S. Copyright Office, 2019). The statutory framework that guides the usage of unlicensed copyright material is highlighted in Article 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act (U.S. Copyright Office, 2019). Although Clark had successfully sued to deny the football club the rights to use the logo earlier, video highlights from the 1996-98 seasons do not amount to intellectual infringement.

One of the grounds to defend the Cougars’ right to highlight the videos on various platforms is based on the doctrine of the amount and substantiality of the original part borrowed. To that end, the lesser the original material that is highlighted, the more an entity qualifies for fair use (U.S. Copyright Office, 2019). However, the copied portion should not be at the core of the initial content. It would not be fair use, for instance, to begin a parody with the phrase ‘I am not in love’ for an original song titled ‘I am in love’. The Cougars just took a small portion of the original video content to highlight. Besides, the focus of video highlights is on-field performances and not logo displays.

Another factor to justify fair use in the Cougars’ case is the effect on the potential market and value of the original work. The Cougars’ video highlights containing the logo are deemed appropriate. They did not affect the marketability or the derivates of the original work (Patel, 2013). Instead, it can be argued that they potentially enhanced the logo and gave it a free marketing platform.

Also, the Cougars’ use of the copyrighted content stands on the grounds of the purpose of infringing use. To this end, copyright law permits the use of transformative content. Transformative content adds a new message altogether or promotes the exchange of culture, ideas, or skills (Patel, 2013). Also, commercial versus nonprofit infringement comes in, with courts promoting the usage of material that does not seek profits. That doctrine can be used to defend the Cougars’ video highlights since they were meant to transfer skills to newer players. Besides, there was no profit motivation since the content was not published on paid platforms.

The Role of the Congress

The court correctly decided that Congress had no role in the Cougars vs. Clark case since both parties belonged to the same state. The role of Congress in interfering with patent rights is limited. Although Congress may modify the rights of an existing patent, it has no power to grant or recall existing property rights (Hickey, 2013). Also, any decision made by Congress regarding patent rights must not impair existing rights.

Further, the role of Congress on copyright matters has been continually subjected to criticism by courts based on the Constitution. For instance, it is inappropriate for Congress to offer preferential protection for trademarks. One of the reasons to defend such a position is that trademarks have no relation to invention or discovery. Also, trademarks do not depend on newness, nor are they the works of the brain. The court arguments further hold that a trademark has no other significant use other than being an advertisement tool. These court interpretations of the Constitution have set precedents that continue to impact Congress’s role in matters of patents and property rights.


Hickey, K. J. (2013). The Copyright/Commerce Clause Collision: A Subject Matter Approach. U. Cin. L. Rev.82, 1.

Patel, R. (2013). First World Problems:’ A Fair Use Analysis of Internet Memes. UCLA Entertainment Law Review, 20(2).

U.S. Copyright Office. (2019). More Information on Fair Use | U.S. Copyright Office.


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Case Study - Copyright Law

Case Study – Copyright Law

Jim Clark, an artist in Birmingham, submitted his logo design for the Birmingham Cougars football team, and the Cougars used a logo design that was very similar to Clark’s design for their team logo during the 1996–1998 seasons. Clark sued the Cougars for copyright infringement for using his design as their logo without his permission, and the court ruled that the Cougars had improperly used Clark’s design for their logo and had infringed on his copyright of that design.
The Cougars changed their logo for the 1999 season, but they started showing highlight films from their 1996–1998 seasons in their stadium, on their website, and on their television channel, and the logo that Clark had designed and that the Cougars had improperly used during those seasons appeared in the highlight films.
Clark sued the Cougars a second time, alleging that the appearance of the logo he designed in the highlight films was, again, copyright infringement.
The Cougars assert two defenses to Clark’s claim of copyright infringement the second time around.
The Cougars contended that their use of the 1996–1998 logo in the highlight films was protected by the fair use doctrine.
Since Clark and the Cougars were both citizens of Birmingham, there was no commerce among the states or interstate commerce involved, so Congress had no authority to make laws that protected Clark’s copyright.
In a two-page case study, address the questions below.
Is the Cougar’s use of the logo on the highlight films protected by the fair use doctrine?
Is Cougar’s claim that Congress does not have the power to regulate copyright within a single state valid?
As you answer these two questions about the Cougar’s use of the logo, explain how the evolution of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution of the United States affects businesses and the Cougars in particular. Also, be sure to address the categories of intellectual property protected by the Constitution of the United States.
Your case study should be at least two pages in length and include at least two outside sources. Be sure to use APA formatting for all citations and references. Please note that no abstract is needed.

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