3 Count: Grapes of Litigation

And a settled rainbow...

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1: Pepe the Frog’s Creator Gets Alt-Right Children’s Book Pulled, Vows to ‘Aggressively Enforce His Intellectual Property’

First off today, Matthew Gault at Motherboard reports that artist Matt Furie has secured a settlement with former principal Eric Hauser over Furie’s “Pepe the Frog” character.

Hauser had released a children’s book named The Adventures of Pepe and Pede, in which the Pepe character mirrored the views of U.S. President Donald Trump, such as promising to make his farm great again, and seemed to fight a caraciture of a Muslim alligator. Pepe, in recent years, has been a symbol for white supremacists and other alt-right groups much to the horror of Furie, who never intended him to be as such.

The case represents the first time Furie has aggressively enforced his copyright in the character. According to his lawyers, Hauser admitted to the copyright infringement, making the settlement quick. With it, Hauser surrendered all profits from the book, which will be donated to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and agreed to stop selling it. It is unclear how the settlement impacts a deal between Hauser and Post Hill Press, which had picked up the book for wide release.

2: John Steinbeck’s Relatives by Marriage in Copyright Dispute

Next up today, Brian Melley at the Associated Press reports that Waverly Scott Kaffaga, the daughter of deceased author John Steinbeck, has filed a lawsuit, that was heard in court Tuesday, against the estate of her stepbrother Thomas Steinbeck (who died last year) and his widow. In that lawsuit, Kaffaga claims that the other heirs’ interference prevented new film adaptations of popular Steinbeck works including The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden.

The lawsuit is part of a decades-long fight between that started between Thomas Steinbeck and Kaffaga’s mother. When John Steinbeck died, Kaffaga argues, he left control of his copyrights to his then-wife, Kaffaga’s mother. When she died the rights transferred to Kaffaga. However, in the lawsuit, she claims she has been unable to exploit those rights, despite high-profile interest in the works, because of the constant litigating by Thomas Steinbeck, which includes him once secretly signing a $650,000 deal with Dreamworks to be an executive producer on a remake of The Grapes of Wrath.

However, Kaffaga has won most rounds in court and is now asking that the court look at whether Thomas Steinbeck, his estate and his allies have interfered in deals Kaffaga tried to make and should pay damages. That was precisely the issue before court Tuesday as the long-running feud was on full display with allegations of misdeeds on both sides.

3: Hasbro v. DC; ‘Reading Rainbow’ Settlement; Disney Defends ‘Zootopia’

Finally today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that the dispute between PBS affiliate WNED and LeVar Burton’s RRKidz has been settled just a few weeks after the station sued Burton for using the intellectual property belonging to the Reading Rainbow series he once hosted.

The dispute between the two sides had been going on since 2011 and centered around Burton’s use of the Reading Rainbow name, slogan and other elements in his ongoing work, including his podcast LeVar Burton Reads. The issue seemed to come to a head a few weeks ago when WNED tacked on allegations of copyright infringement and trademark infringement among others.

However, the two sides seem to have settled the dispute though the terms have not been revealed, either in court or by Burton on his podcast.


That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.

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