Kids won’t find it quite as frightening as ghosts and goblins, but copyright infringement is a legitimately spooky sight for creators of all ages.

Unlicensed use of original works, whether for commercial use or unrestricted public consumption, is the kind of loss of control that makes our country’s creators feel like the poor teens in Scream, with little hope of rescue and an anonymous criminal about to pounce!

Just in time for Halloween, consider our light-hearted look at six copyright concerns that have seriously scary outcomes for artists and inventors.


Six Spooky Copyright Issues

1.Halloween Movie Piracy – There’s no better season for a scary flick, but sites stealing those films give moviemakers a fright every year. While The Pirate Bay seems to be on the decline, new pretenders to the piracy crown continue to spring up. Even so, can you really replicate the sheer size and scare factor that the silver screen brings? We don’t think so!

2.The Ghosts of Google
Creators would like to think that after all the hard work they’ve done jumping through the hoops of a DMCA takedown request and finally getting unlicensed content links removed, they could put their feet up until the next inevitable request. Unfortunately, thanks to a completely unnecessary (and Google-backed) directory called Chilling Effects, these links are recorded and given a new lease of life for any aspiring pirate to rediscover. Just when you thought it was safe to sell your content legitimately, Google brings its pirated brethren back from the dead.

3. YouTube Horror Show – The popular video platforms has plenty of demons, not least music piracy, but its problems got a whole lot worse earlier this year, when it became clear that ISIS uses YouTube as a valuable recruiting platform. Several macabre and uncensored uploads later, the company was able to act on the vile content, but other complaints like its hosting of webcam hacking tutorials have since come to light, leaving us to question the common sense of YouTube’s upload first/ask questions later approach. Once content, unlicensed, unpleasant, or both – is out there in the world, hasn’t the damage already been done?

4. Trick or Treat (or Trademark) – Candy might be the last place you’d look for an intellectual property claim, but there are of course plenty of brands behind those Halloween treats. Most of them are likely to join in the fun of Halloween, but it’s important to remember that their brand marks and assets are worth many millions of dollars!

5. Masks and Costumes – Is that official merchandise or some bootleg brand that you’re buying your kids? If it doesn’t seem like something the big brands would worry about, consider the Halloween Power Rangers case back in 2011. Those trademarks are valuable intellectual property rights for the companies that help create the popular programs behind them, so it should be no surprise that they protect them. When you see how many Spiderman or Minions costumes are out collecting candy this weekend, it becomes clear why those license fees matter so much!

6. Google Books Unsettles Authors – “Scraping” is a scary enough term in its own right – imagine nails rasping down a chalkboard… ugh! – but when Google gets involved, it’s usually authors who shudder. The company is renowned for scraping online content providers so that it can present their work in its search results, which is a double-edged sword for creators; if they get a new visitor, great, but if only Google gets the visit and recognition for the content value, the writer and her site miss out. With Google Books, the company wants to expand this effort on a massive scale and make significant chunks of writing, even entire books where it can, available without compensation to their creators. In the case of public domain works, that’s all well and good, but when the content is under copyright, Google’s project starts to look a lot like a piracy site. Enough to make any author scream!


Whatever you choose to do for Halloween, have fun and remember that there is probably a creative talent working hard to bring that scary film, music, or character into your celebrations!