The Thick and Thin of Copyright Protection

The plaintiffs (Moonbug) own the popular kids YouTube channel CoComelon. Moonbug’s videos have garnered more than 165 billion (with a “b”) views on YouTube, outstreaming Bad Bunny, Taylor Swift, and Drake combined. In 2021, Moonbug sued the defendants (Babybus), alleging that the defendants’ Super JoJo website included videos, characters and other content that infringed upon Moonbug’s copyrights. Last month, after a three-week trial in federal district court in the Northern District of California before the Hon. Edward M. Chen, a jury awarded Moonbug $23.4 million (with an “m”) in damages.

GALA Law discusses a copyright case and if the defendant’s copying of the work “constituted unlawful appropriation.”

The jury then needed to determine if the plaintiff was entitled to “thick” or “thing” copyright protection.

Which end of the “thick-thin” continuum a particular work falls is a “qualitative [and] relative” determination that “defies precise definition.”

A fascinating look into one aspect of copyright law.

This could be applied to a number of comic strips but the first that came to mind was Rudolph Dirks’ The Katzenjammer Kids and Harold Knerr’s The Fineheimer Twins (samples below from 1905 and 1907 respectively) and why Hearst let The Philadelphia Inquirer get away with it.