Soulja Boy Tell em.’
The once famous rapper and hip-hop artist has been drifting in and out of the spot light for some time now. He initially gained recognition and prominence with his hit song “Crank That.” But the singer has been in the headlines recently. However, it’s not for a new song or music video. Instead, he has been making headlines for the release of his new line of video game consoles.
Soulja boy has released various consoles such as:
- SouljaGame Fuze
- SouljaGame Handheld
- Retro Souljaboy Mini
- SouljaGame Console
To see the products, click here.
Hmm, have I seen these consoles before?
Soulja Boy purports to have sold more than 5 million consoles. But these game consoles raise some concerns. Not only do they look almost identical to consoles made by Microsoft (Xbox), Sony (Playstation), and Nintendo, the consoles also have games that may be complete replicas. Copying the games and console software may violate the copyright protection that Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo has over their products.
There’s copyright in video game consoles and video games?
Yes. Video games and certain software in the console may have qualify for copyright protection. 17 U.S.C. § 102 lays out what may qualify for copyright protection. These categories include:
(1) literary works;
(2) musical works, including any accompanying words;
(3) dramatic works, including any accompanying music;
(4) pantomimes and choreographic works;
(5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
(6) motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
(7) sound recordings; and
(8) architectural works.
To read about 17 U.S.C. § 102 and copyright categories, click here.
Where does software fall?
Software generally falls under the category of literary works. But falling within the enumerated categories of 17 U.S.C. § 102 alone is not enough to obtain copyright protection. The software must also be an original work of authorship and fixed in some sort of medium. Applying these principles to Soulja Boy’s game consoles, the software underlying his games and consoles are protected by copyright. But the copyright may not belong to Soulja Boy. Rather, it may belong to the original producers of the games and console systems, such as Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo.
What happens when a work is protected by copyright?
When a work is protected by copyright, the copyright holder is granted certain rights by law. These rights are laid out in 17 U.S.C. § 106 and include the right to:
(1) reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;
(2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;
(3) to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
(4) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly;
(5) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly; and
(6) in the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.
To read more about these rights and categories, click here.
Applying it the Soulja Boy game consoles.
Violation of any of the rights in 17 U.S.C. § 106 would amount to copyright infringement. Applying it to Soulja Boy’s video game console, there may be copyright infringement if his video game or his consoles incorporate software protected by copyright.
How did Soulja Boy respond?
Soulja Boy adamantly holds the position that his products are legit. He specifically stated on Twitter “Nothings going to happen everything is legit. My console isn’t going anywhere trust me.” But copyright law is not something to take lightly. Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo are big corporations that value their intellectual property. They’re probably not going to let individuals benefit from their rights without authorization.
Soulja Boy says his consoles are legit and is refusing to budge. But there’s a good chance that his products may have incorporated copyrighted software. However, the irony is that the Soulja Boy website, SouljaWatch.com, has the copyright logo on the website. This indicates that Soulja Boy or at least the party running the website have something on that website they want to protect under copyright law. Thus, there is a party asserting his website or some aspect of it is protected by copyright as he sells potentially copyright infringing goods on that very website.
Other potential issues.
But his consoles are probably not the only items that raise intellectual property issues. There are various other items being sold by Soulja Boy that seem to be duplicates of famous products such as:
- SouljaHeadphones Wireless (which resembles the Beats by Dre)
- SouljaPods (which look very similar to Airpods by Apple)
- SouljaWatch (which has an uncanny resemblance to the Apple Watch)
- SouljaPad (which looks like an iPad)
To see the products sold by Soulja Boy, click here.
What are your thoughts on Soulja Boy and his video game consoles? Leave a comment below to let us know what you think!
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Disclaimer: This article is not legal advice. It is only for educational or entertainment purposes only. Please do not use the article or contents of the article without permission. For legal advice and questions, please contact registered Patent Attorney Vincent LoTempio.