If at All Possible, Involve a Copyright

I’m at the Yale Reputation Economies conference, where Rebecca Tushnet just made a great point: that while both Star Wars Kid and the many people who made remixes of his video had reputational interests, the 600-pound reputational gorilla in the story is Lucasfilm, whose trademarks and copyrights are the “third term” in creator-site disputes. Far more than Star Wars Kid himself or his remixers, it’s Lucasfilm that gets to decide whether the videos are online or off. Thus far, it has forborne from doing anything.

This observation suggests a corollary:

If you’re going to do something potentially embarrassing, be sure to feature someone else’s IP prominently. That way, if things end badly—that is, on YouTube—there will at least be someone out there who might be able to get rid of the evidence.