Copyright infringement has been an element of the constitution that has been debated on for years and for a variety of legal cases. The verbiage of the rights could be interpreted several different ways, which has caused plenty of long drawn out cases. Most recently, reality TV, or to be more specific television stations that produce these shows, have been battling between one other on the always sticky issue of creative ideas (i.e. shows they’ve come up with) and copyright control.
The original “Big Brother” gets threatened
Most people are familiar with CBS’s Big Brother, the reality show that’s been on-air since 2000 that follows every move of a group of people living together in a house (and a house member is voted off each week). People love watching people who are exhibitionists. So it’s been no surprise that it has been so popular all these years. But when ABC announced earlier this year that it was going to be producing a new show called The Glass House, CBS was not pleased. They first warned ABC to not go forward with show, but when they decided to go forward, CBS filed a lawsuit in Federal Court in in May 2012 alleging copyright infringement, trade secret misappropriation, unfair competition another various breaches and wrongdoings. They also claimed several employees from Big Brother had been hired to work on ABC’s new show.
Judge not interested in limiting “public rights”
CBS’ lawsuit didn’t get very far however. On June 15, the presiding judge ruled that he was denying CBS’ request for a temporary restraining order to halt ABC’s airing of the show. He also a few days later issued a detailed civil minute opinion finding that CBS was unlikely to prevail on the merits because it failed to demonstrate the proper entitlement for the relief it was seeking. It seems that no judge will grant CBS, or any other television or Satellite TV station, that much copyright control of their show. General ideas and concepts, the judge ruled, cannot be copyrighted.
Despite this ruling, television stations will continue to bicker legally, mainly for attention from the press.