Richard Rochford in Bloomberg Law: ‘Mockingbird’ Spat Shows Benefits of Light Touch on Copyrights


Haynes and Boone, LLP Partner Richard Rochford was quoted in a Bloomberg Law article that looks at how heavy-handed copyright enforcement tactics can backfire in the age of social media.

Here is an excerpt:

Broadway producer Scott Rudin endured a wave of criticism after sending letters to at least eight community theater groups that had planned to perform the play “To Kill a Mockingbird” with an older script than the one used in the Broadway production. That prompted a #BoycottRudinPlays hashtag on Twitter with comments such as “This is just greed.” Rudin eventually backtracked and allowed the theaters to stage the play using his production’s script.

Trademark and copyright owners increasingly must weigh public perception when considering how to enforce their rights. A lighter touch can put an alleged infringer on notice while avoiding bad publicity, and even produce some good publicity through humor and wit, attorneys said.

“Clever companies and brand owners have come to realize it’s a way to come across as the good guy while still getting their messages out about their property,” Richard Rochford, a trademark attorney at Haynes and Boone, LLP, said. He said Rudin and his team are “trying to be graceful now, but they’ve already done P.R. damage. Had they done this at the outset, it would be pretty good.”

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