Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Mezei on Copyright Protection of Sport Moves

Peter Mezei, Institute of Comparative Law, is publishing Copyright Protection of Sport Moves in Non-Conventional Copyright (Enrico Bonadio & Nicola Lucchi, eds., Edward Elgar, forthcoming). Here is the abstract.

Creativity is the backbone of sports. Athletes might win the competitions, if they present brand new routines or exercises. In adversarial sports unexpected moves might guarantee some form of advantage of the field that might lead to success in the games. Creativity is the backbone of copyright law as well. Original works of expressions deserve economic and – where available – moral rights protection. These two types of creativity are of different nature. Nonetheless, the question arises: are sports moves and their choreographies capable to be creative and thus protectable as an author’s unique artistic expression? Should Krisztián Berki receive copyright protection for the move named after him in pommel horse, Bob Cousy for his behind-the-back pass in basketball, Antonín Panenka for his penalty kick in football, Werner Rittberger for his loop jump in ice skating, Dick Fosbury for his flop in high jump or the Yawgoons for their snowboard features? Some might argue that “the idea of a quarterback spinning in ballet slippers to the sound of Beethoven seems more ripe for a comedy than a football game”. The relevance of copyright protection is, however, significant. As sports have grown to a global multi-billion-dollar business, it is not irrelevant, whether these forms of expression shall be protected for long decades even after the death of the original athletes. The chapter analyses whether sports moves and choreographies fit into the concept of originality and thus whether they are copyrightable.

Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

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