Plagiarism Today (PT) is a site targeted at Webmasters and copyright holders regarding the issue of plagiarism online. Though it deals with many legal issues, in particular the DMCA and copyright law, it is not a legal blog and is, instead, a blog regarding a societal ill the effects may never be fully understood or comprehended.
In November 2017, John Lewis, a UK retailer, released a holiday ad featuring Moz the Monster, a monster that hid under the bed of a child. However, though the child initially wanted to be rid of him, the two forged a friendship that many found extremely touching.
John Lewis Christmas Ad 2017 - #MozTheMonster - YouTube
According to Riddell, Moz bore a strong resemblance to the monster in Mr. Underbed, a 1986 children’s book he published that had been re-illustrated in 2009.
To Riddell, the similarities were striking. Though he admitted that the story of a monster hiding under the bed well predates both works, he took issue with the general appearance of Moz and some of his specific actions, such as shaking the bed and the young boy using earmuffs to quell the sound.
Though Riddell received widespread public support, especially from other authors and illustrators, he said that he would not be seeking out legal action. According to Riddell, “Instead, I hope that advertising agencies, and the big companies they work for, take care to credit creative people whose work they might reference.”
John Lewis eventually responded to the allegations, defending the ad in a statement that said:
The story of a big hairy monster under the bed which keeps a child from sleeping is a universal tale that has been told many times over many years. Ours is a Christmas story of friendship and fun between Joe and Moz the Monster, in which Joe receives a night light that helps him get a good night’s sleep. The main thrust of our story is utterly different to Chris Riddell’s.
John Lewis statement to The Guardian
In the end, the issue, largely went away. However, the story did have a happy ending for Riddell as Mr. Underbed saw a resurgence in sales, selling out completely and requiring an emergency fresh print run to fill shelves.
So, while there may never have been a real definite conclusion to the story, it seems likely that both sides were happy with the ending. John Lewis created a mascot that is still finding love a year later and Riddell sold a lot more copies of his work.
But this leaves a nagging question: Was there likely plagiarism?
Breaking Down the Allegations
For Riddell, the allegations are fairly simple. Moz is a very similar and behaving monster to Mr. Underbed. Both feature blueish skin, large red noses and smiles featuring two fangs (albeit in opposite directions).
From Riddell’s perspective, that made it likely that Moz was at least inspired by, if not outright plagiarized from, Mr. Underbed.
But, if Riddell had taken his case to court, it likely wouldn’t have made it very far. While the similarities between the two are certainly notable, they likely aren’t protectable under copyright and they aren’t even unique to the characters involved.
As one blog noted, blue monsters with big red noses were a staple of Sesame Street long before either work was released. Furthermore, as Riddell himself noted, many elements of the stories, including the monster hiding under the bed and keeping the child awake, are extremely old in their origins.
However, copyright does not equal plagiarism and it entirely possible to plagiarize without infringing. Despite that, it doesn’t seem like there’s enough there to truly convict either.
As I showed back in September, it’s very easy to concoct a plagiarism story, even unintentionally, when you look only at the similarities. Riddell is extremely familiar with his work and, understandably, sees the pattern of it in other works. His belief is, in my estimation, genuine.
As for others, when you look at the similarities between two works but don’t pay equal attention to the differences, it’s easy to see plagiarism where there is none. The two works, as John Lewis noted, are fundamentally different.
The John Lewis commercial focuses on the friendship between the two, which culminates in Moz buying the child a nightlight so he can sleep at night and stay awake during the day. In Mr. Underbed, keeps his child awake but through snoring and the discovery that other creatures are also looking for a place to sleep.
While it’s entirely possible that John Lewis did draw heavily from Mr. Underbed, it’s impossible to prove with the evidence in hand. The similarities are, on the whole, very broad and there are pronounced differences.
While I wouldn’t say this is a plagiarism scandal produced from thin air, which is what I did previously, it’s certainly not an open and shut case. From where I sit, calling John Lewis or their ad agency a plagiarist is a stretch, they still should have avoided the similarities. Simply altering the appearance of Moz could have prevented the whole thing.
Still, it seems like things worked out well enough for both. The Moz campaign was a success and Riddell’s book sold exceptionally well.
Perhaps, this story is something of a Christmas miracle.
One of the allegations we constantly hear when someone accuses a popular work of plagiarism is that they are just seeking attention or profit. To be clear, this is NOT Riddell’s story. Not only is he a successful illustrator and political cartoonist, but the plan to ramp up book sales came from his publisher.
Still, if accusers are looking for fame and sales, they rarely get it, even when they are found to be correct. Plagiarism accusers, in general, are forgotten, even if we remember the person they accused is a plagiarist. After all, do you remember who originally accused Shia LaBeouf of plagiarism? It was Daniel Clowes.
To be clear, I’m as guilty of this as anyone. I had to look that up too.
The point is that this is one of the rare occasions where David took on Goliath in a plagiarism battle and actually did get increased sales.
Still, the fact that both monsters still seem to be well-loved means that, most likely, the differences between them outweighed their similarities to the public. If nothing else, it means that there’s room enough for two monsters under the bed.
Just a few weeks ago, Ailey O’Toole seemed like a poet ready to become a breakout star. Her publisher had nominated her poem Gun Metal for a Pushcart Prize and her first collection had been successfully Kickstarted with 73 backers kicking in $1,628 to get Grief and What Comes After into print.
She had even taken her excitement about her work to an unusual level. Having tattooed two lines from Gun Metal into her arm.
Image originally from O’Toole’s Twitter
However, unlike the tattoo, O’Toole’s success wasn’t meant to last.
On November 30 another poet, Rachel McKibbens, took to Twitter to vent her frustration at O’Toole.
A poem that plagiarizes me was nominated for a Pushcart. I HOPE WE WIN!
According to McKibbens, O’Toole contacted her to say that she had “paraphrased” some of McKibbens work (specifically a work from McKibbens’ collection entitled Blud) “too closely for comfort” and wanted to apologize to McKibbens for it. It was an apology that McKibbens flatly refused to accept.
Hell-spangled girl spitting teeth into the sink, I’d trace the broken landscape of my body & find God within myself.
Ramshackle girl spitting teeth in the sink. I trace the foreign topography of my body, find God in my skin
The similarities, despite not being word-for-word, were too close for many other people’s comfort as well. It was clear that, even in just six lines, O’Toole had copied images and metaphors and idea. These were (and still are) elements very personal to McKibbens, who described it as “How I language my fucking survival.”
I think “Gun Metal” is probably the best representation of my collection as a whole; it is the second-to-last poem of Introspection and it’s a really great bridge between Annihilation and Reclamation because it kind of exists in both of those realities. It starts with the image of “Ramshackle / girl spitting teeth / in the sink”
Ailey O’Toole in an interview with The Rumpus
In the interview, nor anywhere else public, does O’Toole make an attempt to attribute or acknowledge McKibbens as the source or even the inspiration for those lines.
While having the opening lines of your best-known and most-loved poem called out for plagiarism is bad enough, it wouldn’t stop there for O’Toole. Other poets began to come forward as well with Wanda Deglane accusing her of “borrowing” work fork from a manuscript she let her read.
The first room Ailey “borrowed” from a poem was from a manuscript I trusted her to read. I was immediately uncomfortable with the similarities, but felt like I should feel “honored” someone was “inspired” by my work. I let it slide.
Even if she does reemerge to write poetry again, it’s unlikely a publisher will take a chance on her. Though publishers say they take a hard line on plagiarism, they’ve given passes to many famous and lucrative authors. However, as someone who was awaiting their first publication, O’Toole likely doesn’t have the cache to get a second chance.
O’Toole’s plagiarism touches on a wide variety of subjects and issues including personal nature of poetry, race and the impact of technology on such issues.
On the most basic level, the story highlights how personal poetry is as a medium and how that impacts allegations of plagiarism.
The allegations against O’Toole weren’t just about her use of words or images from other artists, but about coopting their experiences. Poetry is an inherently personal medium where the author is trying to lay bare their most intimate thoughts, feelings and experiences while the audience connects with it on an equally personal level.
This makes what O’Toole did especially egregious. It wasn’t just about stealing words or work, but about stealing experiences and identity. This is both true from the authors she plagiarized from but also her readers, who were connecting with a falsehood.
This theft of identity gets all the more problematic when poets are using the medium to express issues of race, mental illness and personal trauma, as McKibbens, who is Chicana, is doing with her work. This led to allegations that O’Tool, who is white, wasn’t just ethically wrong, but racist and symptomatic of a racist publishing industry.
But, for all of the fire and rage, it was a story that played in out in near-real-time over Twitter. Poets and readers alike collaborated to find other examples of plagiarism, alert victims that might be unaware and, in general, understand the full extent of O’Toole’s literary crimes.
However, that forum is largely why the situation was resolved as quickly as it was. With only a few days of searching, the people on the Twitter thread were able to accumulate enough evidence definitely doom O’Toole. With a lone investigator or even a small team, it likely would have taken weeks or months, as it did in the case of Pierre DesRuisseaux.
The combination of anger and social media was potent and effective, bringing a swift conclusion to a matter that many felt left a stain on the poetry community.
O’Toole’s story is a cautionary tale. Though plagiarism is always wrong, plagiarizing poetry (or any other similarly personal art form) is going to get an even more strong reaction as you aren’t just copying someone’s work, but their core identity.
The story struck a lot of familiar chords from my past but had a radically different ending. Rather than a takedown notice or a cease and desist letter, O’Toole was brought down by the weight of the evidence, evidence gathered by her peers.
While it’s horrifying to me that people like O’Toole still exist 18 years after my first run in with poetry plagiarism, the resolution gives me hope that, at least in some cases, it’s gotten better about handling them.
Since failure to cite information is not seen as serious as failure to cite text, the first question gets the lion’s share of attention. However, it’s actually the second question that’s often more difficult answer.
That’s because determining what facts and information need citation is not a straightforward one and, very often, the information given to students on the issue isn’t helpful.
The reason is because of one very vague term “Common knowledge.” Though most students and authors know they don’t have to cite common knowledge, there’s little guidance on what exactly what information can be considered “common”
The reason for that is simple: There is no easy answer. Determining what is and is not common knowledge requires looking not just at the information itself, but also the audience it’s intended for.
The Basics of Common Knowledge
Most students and authors understand that you don’t need to cite work that you created, including ideas and text, and that you don’t need to cite facts and information that are common knowledge.
This means that, for a piece of information to be considered common knowledge, it must be two things at the same time:
Understood and known by your average reader
Not controversial, meaning that it is simply accepted as fact
As such, a statement such as “1 Miles = 1.6 Kilometers” isn’t likely to be fine without citation. It is broadly understood and there’s no controversy around it.
However, once you leave behind the most basic information, it gets more and more difficult to determine what is and is not common knowledge. The date of an obscure battle would likely require citation, unless the work is directed at experts in that time period. Likewise a statement such as “Humans have five senses” would require citation because there is significant controversy as to what does and does not constitute a sense.
This creates a real problem, the author, when determining what is and is not “common knowledge” has to anticipate both their audience’s understanding of the topic and their acceptance of the information being conveyed.
This, unfortunately, changes drastically from classroom to classroom. What is common knowledge in a graduate level history class will not always be as such in an eighth grade history class. Likewise, what’s common knowledge in an English class may not be in a physics class later that day.
There are also cultural, national and regional differences in what is and is not common knowledge. For example. parts of US history that are common knowledge in the states wouldn’t be in the UK and vice versa.
However, since authors aren’t psychic, they aren’t going to be able to perfectly predict what is and is not common knowledge to the reader. As such, mistakes are going to happen, including information that’s not cited when it should have been and information that is needless attributed.
Of those two, the latter is far less hazardous to one’s work but both can be avoided if possible.
Deciding What is Common Knowledge
When determining what is and is not common knowledge, MIT proposes a three questions to ask yourself:
Who is my audience?
What can I assume they already know?
Will I be asked where I obtained my information?
The first question is the easiest. It’s simply asking ” Who is this paper for?” The answer could be as simple as a teacher, the general public or an audience of relative experts in a field. One doesn’t have to anticipate every possible reader of a work, just the general audience it is for.
The second and third questions, however, are the more difficult. Anticipating what your audience knows and accepts is inherently difficult. However, it’s generally best to assume that your audience is, as MIT put it, educated has a reasonable amount of understanding, if not expertise, on the subject.
As a general rule, you should always cite facts, figures and information that you obtained solely through your research in the paper. Even if it is common knowledge to the person reading it, it wasn’t common knowledge to you when you started work.
Similarly, you generally do not need to cite information that was taught in the classroom you’re presenting the paper. If the instructor taught it, it’s safe to assume that they know it and accept it as fact, as with the other students.
In the end, if you’re unsure about what is or is not common knowledge, the best thing to do is either ask your instructor or, if that isn’t possible, cite the content.
Though excessive and needless citation can hurt a paper, it harms it far less than leaving out citations that should have been included.
When it comes to missing plagiarism, missing a citation on a piece of information or an idea is generally considered less egregious than plagiarized text. Where one is viewed as a mistake, the other is viewed as cheating. One hurts a grade, one hurts academic careers.
Still, it is best to take make sure you understand the rules that surround citing facts and information. It not only prevents accusations of plagiarism but, if done well, it bolsters your arguments and makes your work much stronger.
To that end, following the rules above can help greatly in determining what is and is not common knowledge though. However, if you still find yourself stuck, your best bet is to either speak with your instructor/editor or, if that’s not possible, cite the source.
When it comes to a choice between over-citing and under-citing, it’s clear which one is preferred.
First off today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that the U.S. Supreme Court has denied to hear an appeal by TVEyes in their case against Fox News, a move that allows a decision in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to stand.
TVEyes is a media monitoring service that enabled users to search for and find clips of Fox News content (as well as other channels and sources). Fox News, however, considered this a copyright infringement and took special issue with TVEyes enabling of bulk downloading and sharing of their content. Fox News sued and, at the appeals court ruled against TVEyes, saying it caused harm to Fox News.
However, TVEyes appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court. TV Eyes wanted the court to examine the presumption of harm and Fox News and to address various fair use questions in the case. However, the court has denied that cert, allowing the appeals court ruling to stand. The cert was denied without further comment. The case now goes to the trial court to consider the scope of the injunction and what damages may be awarded.
Next up today, Ananya Bhattacharya at Quartz India reports that Lyca Productions, the producer of the recently released film 2.0, has filed a lawsuit against some 12,500 sites that it says host pirated versions of the film, which began to spring up just hours after the film was released to theaters.
Lyca is seeking to force telecoms in the country to block or disable access to those sites in a bid to reduce piracy of the film, something the Madras high court directed 37 internet service providers to do. However, pirates have simply taken to altering the URLs, even if slightly, to get around the blockades.
In a bid to try and reduce piracy, Lyca is asking users to report where the movie is available so they can take further action. This battle is just the latest in a long line of wars between pirates and Bollywood film studios, who have regularly struggled to stop or mitigate piracy of their films.
Finally today, Chris Cooke at Complete Music Update reports that a German court has ruled against the stream ripping site MusicMonster.fm saying that the site is not protected by their users’ private copying rights.
The site lets users download nearly in song by listening to thousands of digital streaming radio stations and then copying the song when it’s heard. According to the site, it was just a tool to help users take advantage of their private copying exemption, which allows users to make such copies for their private use.
However, the court disagreed noting that the way MusicMonster performed its copying to its servers first, which did not enjoy any such private copying exemption. As such, the court found the site liable for copyright infringement and the site, which is currently down, has set a precedent that rightsholders are hoping to use against similar services.
First off today, Corinne Reichert at ZDNet reports that the Australian Parliament has passed the Copyright Amendment Bill 2018, paving the way for tougher site blocking rules that will now require search engines to take action as well.
Australia had previously passed and implemented a site blocking regime. According to rightsholders, some 88 sites and 475 domains are currently blocked in the nation. However, rightsholders complained that the legislation’s effectiveness was limited due to slowness in proving sites qualified for blocking and in adding new domains as blocked sites moved around. The new amendment addresses those issues, making it faster for sites to be blocked and to create “adaptive” injunctions that will target mirror sites and sites that move to new domains.
The new bill was controversial among the tech community, which claimed that it could result in the blocking of legitimate websites and that the expansion of the bill to cover search engines was an overreach. However, a Senate report found that blocking of legitimate sites was unlikely and that the safeguards in the bill were adequate.
Next up today, Scott Baird at The Gamer reports that Nintendo is filing Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notices to prevent YouTubers (and others) from leaking details of the upcoming Super Smash Bros. Ultimate game.
The game, which is scheduled to be released on December 7th, has already landed in the hands of several gamers. However, when they’ve been moving to upload videos of the game to YouTube, they’ve been greeted with copyright strikes and some have even had their channels suspended.
The move doesn’t come as a surprise to many as Nintendo has a long history of clashing with YouTubers that wish to make videos based upon their games, even videos made after a game is officially released.
Finally today, Tom Hoggins at The Telegraph reports that the popular video game Fortnite has come under fire as rapper 2 Milly has said he is considering legal action against the game and its maker, Epic, over Fortnite’s “Swipe It” emote.
According to 2 Milly, the movie replicates his signature move, The Milly Rock, which has become a viral sensation. However, 2 Milly is not alone with other creators, including Donald Faison and Chance the Rapper have expressed concern over Fortnite using moves that they had created.
Fortnite sells emotes to players to use in the game. They are part of character customizations that players can pay for in the otherwise free game. However, experts postulate that dance move creators might have difficulty challenging Epic on copyright grounds as they would have to prove that their moves are both original and protectable under copyright, both of which could be a challenge.
Big Fat Liar is a 2002 comedy film by director Shawn Levy that stars Frankie Muniz, Amanda Bynes and Paul Giamatti as the three central characters.
The film was like many other family friendly comedies. The protagonist, usually a teen or a child, is thrust into a extreme adult situation and much of the humor comes from them interacting with grownups and finding non-traditional ways to achieve their goals.
However, one thing did make Big Fat Liar unique among the films in the category: They could have easily changed the name to Big Fat Plagiarist and the film would have largely been the same.
That’s right, the “wacky” adult scenario the protagonists find themselves in is toppling a plagiarizing Hollywood director. However, rather than turning to attorneys filing copyright infringement lawsuits, this film’s protagonist took a less traditional approach and, as the expression goes, hijinks ensues.
Content Warning: Spoilers for Big Fat Liar below…
Ms. Caldwell Isn’t Taking Jason’s Lies
The movie begins with Jason Shepherd, a 14-year-old high school student Michigan. Jason has a well-earned reputation for being a liar and, when he fails to turn in a creative writing assignment, he attempts to weasel out of it though his teacher, Ms. Caldwell, isn’t having any of it.
Ms. Caldwell tells Jason to have a handwritten story ready for her by 6 PM the next day or he will fail the course. Jason’s dad explains to him that making up stories appears to be his “God-given talent” and tells him to put it to use, which he does. Jason writes a story entitled Big Fat Liar about his personal experiences and starts biking to deliver it before the deadline.
Jason in the Limo with Wolf
However, on the way, he has a collision with a limousine that is carrying Hollywood producer Marty Wolf. Jason “convinces” Wolf to give him a ride to the school but ends up leaving his story in the limo. When called out for not having a story, Jasons protests, saying he left the story behind but no one believes him due to his history. This causes Jason to miss the deadline and he is forced to complete summer school.
When attending a movie sometime later, Jason learns that Wolf took his story and turned into a movie (that somehow had a trailer before the film had begun shooting). Jason once again tries to tell the truth but no one believes him, assuming it’s another one of his lies.
He then convinces his friend Kaylee to go with him to Los Angeles to confront Wolf. However, when they finally get to him, he refused to budge and has them thrown out of his office.
Jason Turns Wolf Blue
The two then team up with a limo driver who has his own grudge against Wolf and they launch a campaign against him. Among other things they put blue dye into his pool, reconfigure the controls in his car and misdirect him to a child’s birthday party instead of an important business meeting.
That missed meeting puts the film at jeopardy though Wolf hopes to make it up by pitching the idea at a party hosted at his house. Jason and Kaylee sneak into the party and agree to help Wolf in exchange for a full confession to Jason’s father. But, while Jason is able to feed him a speech that restore’s the film’s funding, Wolf refuses to hold up his end of the bargain.
Wolf Gets Busted
Jason and Kaylee nearly give up but end up teaming with various crew and studio personnel that had also been hurt by Wolf to sabotage him on the first day of shooting. After a round of wacky, family friendly hijinks, Wolf confronts Jason on the roof of a building where he loudly swears that he will never tell the truth. However, Jason then reveals that the entire confession was being recorded from multiple angles.
The film ends with the movie being made and Jason getting credit for writing the original story. As for Wolf, he is forced out of the movie industry and to start working as a birthday clown.
Understanding the Plagiarism
The Initial Confrontation with Wolf
The plagiarism itself in this story is pretty straightforward. Wolf took Jason’s script and made a movie based upon it without his permission and without crediting him. It’s as clear cut as any plagiarism can get.
So clear cut as to be unrealistic. There’s almost no way a successful Hollywood producer would take a story left in his limo by a 14-year-old and turn it into a movie, taking both the title and the plot. Most likely, he would have refused to read it for fear of litigation (why studios don’t accept unsolicited scripts) and, if he did, he would likely take non-protectable elements from the story only. By the time the Hollywood machine was done, the film would almost certainly have a new title and be almost completely unrecognizable.
However, this is exactly how many think such plagiarism happens. That greedy but creatively bankrupt writers and creators go trolling for things to steal and, when they get caught, they never let it go.
In that regard, this is kind of a plagiarism horror story. A teen, one that no one believes, is plagiarized by a greedy Hollywood executive and there’s nothing he can do since he can’t prove it was his (the assignment was handwritten and there’s no proof the two even met).
As scary as it might be to some creatives, to call it an unrealistic plagiarism is a grand understatement. The odds of something like this actually happening are infinitesimal.
That being said, what is interesting in the story is the antagonist, Marty Wolf. Wolf is an unequivocal bad guy in this story, a true heel. He is such a heel that the lying and manipulating Jason actually morphs into the hero over the course of the story.
Jason is a compulsive liar only interested in clearing the air so his father will believe him again even though his father is right not to trust him. Despite that, Jason is the hero of the story because just how evil and vicious Wolf is portrayed.
As unrealistic as the plagiarism is, at least there’s no doubt who is the bad guy in the film. You can be a lying, conniving teen but you’ll never be as bad as a plagiarist (especially a rich and powerful one that exploits the work of said teen).
When it’s all said and done, this film is relatively harmless when it comes to the plagiarism angle. Sure, the plagiarism angle is unrealistic but it’s no more unrealistic than the other plots in the movie. After all, it features a film that has a trailer before it’s even been green lit and a producer who seems to know remarkably little about producing films.
In short, it’s not a realistic representation of any part of the creative process, let alone the plagiarism.
That being said, it does paint the plagiarist as the bad guy. While it doesn’t explain much about his reasons, other than he’s been struggling to produce a hit, these types of films rarely have villains with complex motivations.
Having the plagiarist be the cartoonish bad guy is about all one could really hope from this kind of film and, fortunately, that’s exactly what we got.
Want more plagiarism in pop culture? Check out the other installments in this series below:
First off today, Chris Cooke at Complete Music Update reports that the internet service company Cloudflare is facing another copyright-related lawsuit as wedding dress makers are accusing it of failing to take action against repeat infringers.
The lawsuit was filed by Cheri Bridals and Maggie Sottero Designs, which are suing for contributory copyright infringement for its role in providing services to Chinese sites that they allege create and sell knock off versions of their dresses. However, since dresses (and fashion in general) do not enjoy copyright protection, they are targeting the use of their images and other marketing material, which the sites have exploited in their efforts to sell duplicate dresses.
Cloudflare, which is an intermediary service between the user and the site’s original host, has had its liability tested before. Both the RIAA and pornography provider ALS Scan have filed suits though neither have reached a ruling as both were settled out of court.
Next up today, Alisa Odenheimer at Bloomberg reports that, in Israel, a court has ruled in favor of the central bank in a case against a two counterfeiters, essentially tacking on a civil action to a criminal indictment.
The two were previously convicted of printing tens of thousands of shekels worth of fake bills. The Bank of Israel filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the duo, saying that the notes had many protectable elements and that those copyrights were violated in the process of making the counterfeit notes.
One of the two settled the case quickly for 150,000 shekels ($40,000) while the other did not respond and was ordered to pay 400,000 shekels ($100,000) in damages, which was the full amount the Bank of Israel asked for.
Finally today, Sara Dorn at The New York Post reports that the makers of the famous “Scream” mask have filed a lawsuit against Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier over his use of the mask in various merchandise he sells.
Rozier, who uses the nickname “Scary Terry” has been selling merchandise featuring a cartoon image of him wearing the mask. However, Easter Unlimited, Inc., the rightsholders to the mask, claim that he does not have the right to use the image and are suing for copyright infringement.
In addition to the copyright infringement allegations, they are claiming to have two registered trademarks related to the mask and are suing for those as well. Neither side had any comment on the lawsuit.