Integrity of Copyright Management Information: Bynum v. Texas A&M University Athletic Department and Confusion over the ‘Twelfth Man’ 

May 26, 2017

By Tina Burleson
To even the most astute layman or average legal professional the concept of honor may be difficult to truly understand when the notion forms the basis of copyright. Usually, practitioners jump immediately into defense of an unfounded goodwill. Or, perceive goodwill as a market component of economic value, neglecting the production component of economic value. 
Texas A&M University is a good example of the production valuation of goodwill, since it was one of the brave universities treading unchartered territories of sports intellectual property across the internet. It found itself defending aspects of its athlete’s intellectual properties that traversed the internet and in some combination used its university’s intellectual property identities as a vehicle of transmitting a particular association and brand of football to the public. This intellectual portfolio grew exponentially as various public domains and social forums were engaged; all these functions subsequently resulted in necessary and varying coextensions employing of the university’s intellectual property trove. Control became the key management function that required immediate attention. When a new market emerges, delay time isn’t programmed into what you normally do. One must proceed with agility and flexibility, especially if the rate of growth is indefinite. 
The University discovered it had a duty to protect its school’s intellectual property and inadvertently derived an obligation to ensure safe transmission of a particular athlete’s facility, all because he became famous or blew up. This athlete’s intellectual property, as a singularity grew into a distinct brand carried along through the node coursed by the school’s intellectual property as the carrier. Johnny Manzell pushed the ingenuity and intellectual property skills of the University and became an organized team and network of individuals that learned to handle the matter and hopefully similar future events. I say hopeful, since it teaches this event as the university’s moment of becoming familiarized with the copyright and trademark in the context of a famous sports phenom. 
A test of the University’s intellectual system arises recently as a challenge of a “twelfth-man” construct related to one of its intellectual property identities. The whole concept comes forth from perhaps some poignant tale of team spirit and honor; from some emotion stirring notion that team and honor should never die; and the greater notion: that the team should never lack that one talent that completes them and ensures its success. What a marketing device! I assume you’ve heard the tale, now think about it. A game that must be played, because the crowd is eager to see the spectacle. The team doesn’t have the right number of players. A man steps out of the stands, a spectator walks out of the bleachers and becomes the twelfth man. The world will never know the sense of community, the will of the fans and the university that day when the game was won. The transmission to the public, the imagery, the call to join a team with such inclusiveness and readiness. This is a priceless build-up of commodity for the University that experienced such an event, limited only in its ability to harvest the produce. Equally eventful, is the one of a kind moment in time for each and every participant as spectators. Sure we could fabricate our perception or format the tale into one of the copyright acknowledged formats. But we may be hard pressed to monograph each individual’s experience as they were in time and fix it on that exact backdrop of time and own the entire experience frame completely, yet. So, an experience we may share may have different meaning to different people and currently we all own our own time. So until the real properties of time manifests itself to us all, we must share time with each other. Albert Einstein put it succinctly by saying it’s a matter of relativity. It behooves us to design our constructs within reason, so we can communicate effectively and advance intellectually. I think it’s important to avoid repetition, confusion and conflicts of interest. Remember_ sharing is caring, for now.
Bachelors of General Chemistry, Juris Doctorate of Law and L.L.M. Candidate in Intellectual Property Law


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