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"Transformation, Copyright, and the Right of Publicity in the Digital Age"

Could you put a real person--say Bill Gates--in a computer game? How about a comic book? In both cases, it would be risky to do so without permission from Gates. But what if you transformed Bill Gates into a half man/half worm creature? Strangely, you could probably do that without paying Gates a penny. This doesn't make much sense. Why should transforming Bill Gates into a worm creature make the difference? This weird rule is the result of a test from copyright law--transformation--colonizing other areas of the law.

In copyright law, something is more likely to be fair use if it somehow "transforms" the original work. Similarly, in right of publicity cases, courts are increasingly looking to whether the depiction of a celebrity is somehow "transformative." Nazer will argue that this transformation test is applied in a way that threatens free speech in the digital age.


As a fellow at Stanford Law School's Fair Use Project, Daniel represents writers, publishers, filmmakers, and others who rely on fair use to create their art and scholarship. Prior to joining Stanford, Daniel was an associate at Keker & Van Nest, LLP, where his practice focused on patent and antitrust litigation. He previously served as a law clerk to Justice Susan Kenny of the Federal Court of Australia and to Chief Judge William K. Sessions, III of the United States District Court for the District of Vermont. Daniel received his J.D. from Yale Law School in 2004. He has a B.A. with First Class Honors in philosophy from the University of Western Australia and a Master of Arts in philosophy from Rutgers University.

Official Website: http://www.cogswell.edu/academics/spring-lecture-series-2012.php

Added by reno ybarra on March 26, 2012

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