Monday, April 13, 2009

Lost and the Law Meet! I Don't Know What to Do With Myself!

Hello everyone. Before I post on the most recent episode, let me speak on something that actually brings my love of Lost and my training as an intellectual property lawyer together. As you have seen from my Lost posts and the blog roll on the right, I always refer you to Erika Olson's fantastic recaps over at Long Live Locke. Well, a guy by the name of Seanie B has been offering video recaps on You Tube of this season's episodes, apparently for TV Guide (I'm not going to link directly to his You Tube account because I don't want this guy getting any more popular). Seanie B has been blatantly plagiarizing Erika's recaps, as well as other Lost recappers. You can see the clear copyright violation in this side-by-side comparison provided by Doc Arzt.

Essentially, Erika's recaps are fixed (on the website) expressions (written communications) that have a modicum of creativity (the words she chooses are sufficient creativity, but I would venture to say her wit and humor is the true creativity). Those are the elements of a work that is protected under copyright. A coyright holder has the right to control other uses of her work, including, specifically, the right to a public performance of her work. In other words, she can control any oral recitations of her writings on a You Tube post.

Now, the facts of the show can be freely discussed by all. If Erika writes, "Ben allowed Alex to be killed by Keamy," I can also write, "Ben allowed Alex to be killed by Keamy." Facts are not protected by copyright. As well, anyone who talks about Lost and dares to write about it (your humble blogger included) can speak about the ideas behind the show. Ideas are not protected by copyright; it is the expression of those ideas that is protected. Any kind of flourish Erika uses to express her thought about the ideas behind the show, where she thinks the show is headed, and even the layout/order she talks about the show is all protected. That is what Seanie B has stolen from her. Fortunately, Erika has said she has been receiving some great advice from some intellectual property lawyers and is working hard to have the matter resolved.

Folks, if you love the show, you should absolutely talk about it, but do so in your own words. There is so much within the show to talk about that we don't need to steal other people's work. And read Erika's posts to show your support! Recap coming soon.


  1. Wow thestad, did you even read this post? Or see the comparison of the video recap vs Erika's recap? Discussing entertainment is one thing, plagiarizing someone's personal thoughts and passing them off as your own for profit is entirely different (Seanie B gets paid by TV Guide). Get a clue.

  2. Thank you for sharing this. I hope Erika, Vozzek69 and DocArzt (and anyone else that SB has blatantly plagiarized) get things straightened out with this guy. He needs to man up, admit what he has done and apologize.

  3. @thestad, I know it's just a TV show. That doesn't give someone the right to rip off the creative work of others. Now, I didn't get into other areas of copyright law, like fair use (for some thoughts on that, see my post on AP v. Fairey), but Seanie B doesn't even have a fair use claim here. Erika works hard on her recaps, and they meet the requirements to have that work protected as her own. There is no reason she shouldn't try to protect herself.

    Further, what would your reaction be if she wrote on politics, or genocide, or chameleons or any other random thing that's not "just a TV show?" Should she not try to protect those works as well?

  4. what she's doing going after him legally getting lawyers and stuff is out of line. Plus the multitudes of people that are hating on him.

    2 things also that I should have added
    1. He should apologize in one way or another
    2. He should site theories he gets from other theorists about the episodes

  5. Going after him legally is out of line???? If someone breaks the law, it is out of line to go after him legally. Hmmmmm think you have it backwards. He was out of line, she is protecting her rights.

  6. Thanks for posting this MikeNJD! I think it will help people realize this isn't just a petty thing Erika is doing, this moron stole her work (and others) word for word. I think that is something thestad doesn't seem to understand, it is illegal. If SeanieB robbed a bank but only got away with $20 would you say, well, it's only $20 what's the big deal? I doubt it. Illegal is illegal, the law is there for a reason.

  7. Moreover (continuing Kristin's comments), I think it will help people realize (word-for-word intended) that they should not let themselves fall for the same mistake Seanie B felt to. We are all learning from his mistakes and we grow as human beings.
    After this mess is over, hopefully, Seanie B will work harder and come out with some original texts, which will enrich the universe of LOST's bloggers.

  8. It's not just the fact that he has been passing off Erika's work as his own. What's worse it that he has been making money from it (through Google AdSense and presumably through the button on his website that says 'Donate').

    Erika has stated (and I paraphrase) that she isn't taking legal action in an attempt to make herself any money. And to be fair she hasn't lost any. But the people who donated have... and for every person who has clicked on his site, he has been made that fraction of a cent richer.

  9. Hey man, I followed over from Erika's blog and just wanted to say how great it is that you're not just spreading the word, but adding the power and weight of jargon as well! Honestly, I wish I could shove this post in the face of every supporter of this guy who posts asinine comments.
    On behalf of a grateful humanity....

  10. if seanie b’s recaps were not popular then nobody would even talk about copywrite issues. This is pure jealousy!! Anyhow now we have lost the best LOST recaps video maker of all the time :(


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