Warner Brothers Sued For Patent Infringement
You see a meme circulating on the Internet, and find the same meme on an adult hosting or share hosting website. You like the meme so much that you snag it, share it, and decide to create a video game from it. That's what happened in the case of Warner Brothers vs. the creators of Mayan Cat and Keyboard Cat.
You've probably seen either Mayan Cat or Keyboard Cat on the Internet somewhere, right? These cartoon cats tend to make the rounds relatively well. But, Warner Brothers and a gaming company based in California (5th Cell) took it one step further. They created a video game that includes the popular memes — without permission from the meme creators. That's a big no-no.
Why You Can't Steal Memes From Shared Hosting (Or Other) Sites
First of all, you have to realize that everything you see online has an original creator. That photo you shared or that popular meme you sent to hundreds of people were created by someone. So, if you're going to steal that photo or meme, you have to give that person credit — just to protect yourself.
You might not have know this. But, a company as massive as Warner Brothers has no excuse. Especially since Warner Brothers is known for finding anything that infringes on their own patents, and suing people who don't give them props. Warner Brothers is also a strong SOPA supporter, so the whole thing is terribly contradictory.
Warner Brothers: How to Legally Use Content
What if you see something that you really love on an adult hosting site or other site? What if you see something you love on Facebook or Instagram? Try to find out who the creator behind the original piece of artwork is. If you can't (and this can be hard because of sites like Pinterest), consider whether or not you really want to repost that meme.
Most people can get away with reposting something or sharing something on Facebook. What you can't get away with is creating a video game that generates thousands of dollars without giving the original artists of the game's characters a slice of the pie. Shame on you, Warner Brothers, shame on you.
Warner Brothers: Protecting Your Images
What if you want to protect your own images? I recommend using a program like PhotoShop to stamp a large watermark on the front of photos. This way, anyone who tries to repost your photo will have to deal with your watermark. But, this isn't always so easy to do with sites like Instagram. The sad truth is: if you put it on the Internet, it might be taken.
It's only when a billion dollar company like Warner Brothers turns your work into a video game without giving you credit that you can actually do something. Right now, the company is facing a lawsuit. I'll keep you posted with more details!