Copyright law: the reality


Rahul Chaudhry

Reality TV has been the televisual success story of the last decade. But with new formats come new challenges for copyright practitioners. Rahul Chaudhry explains.

Reality TV is everywhere. It seems a guaranteed way to make money and get noticed. The human tendency to be curious about others’ lives is being exploited to the point where the viewers seem to prefer reality shows over daily soap operas. Perhaps this is because reality shows offer what the soap operas and sitcoms don’t: real action and reactions, real-life people and celebrities in their own skins. However, most of the shows that we see on our televisions are not products of original ideas.

They are the indigenous versions of existing shows that gained popularity in another country. The Internet will tell you that most popular shows such as Idol and Who wants to be a Millionaire have been recreated in 42 and 108 territories respectively. And since the trend of recreating popular reality shows has gained momentum, it is no surprise to hear of copyright infringement claims and complaints every few months.

Most recently, a complaint was filed in the District Court of California by Banijay Entertainment against a show titled My Parents Are Gonna Love You, produced by Angel City Factory and slated for broadcast on Fox network. The idea of the show was to have contestants bring home a celebrity pretending to be their fiancé to meet their parents. The show was said to be the American version of the plaintiff’s French show Mes Parents Vont T’Adorer! (My Parents Are Going to Love You!).

Reality TV, copyright law