You can't copyright a Super Bowl halftime costume. At least that's what lawyers for artist Fernando Sosa are arguing as they fight back against the cease and desist order they got from Katy Perry's legal team last week over Sosa's Left Shark 3D sculptures.
"Usually when it comes to small business owners, when the lawyers come after you the outcome is usually pretty predictable. Lawyer sends you a threatening letter and in fear of legal action you do whatever the lawyer tells you to do," Sosa wrote in a blog post on Monday.
"As I stated before and again, I didn't make this 2.7 inches 3D printed figurine of a comical sea creature wanting to get into a legal battle. If anything I expected more controversy regarding my previous works which included homophobic world leaders and local politicians. I certainly didn't expect this reaction from a comical dancing shark."
And so, Sosa hired lawyer Christopher Jon Springman, a professor at the New York University School of Law, to represent him against what he called "these bullying corporate lawyers." At press time, a spokesperson for Perry had not returned MTV News' requests for comment.
A letter from Springman sets out Sosa's argument for fighting back. "Mr. Sosa is not especially eager to be fighting over copyright, but the legal merits of your claim seem very weak," Springman said, adding that his client has a few questions he wants answered before he agrees to remove the sculptures for sale.
Among them: Why does Katy's team think the costume of a shark that they claim Perry owns is copyrightable? (Since they say the U.S. Copyright Office has made it clear that "costumes are generally not copyrightable.") What is the basis of the claim that Perry owns the copyright? "Did Katy Perry design the Left Shark costume? If so, when? If not, who did? Did that person transfer any copyright interest he or she might have to Katy Perry?"
The lawyer cites an Elle magazine interview with Perry that ran before the Super Bowl in which she said she's usually the boss, but "with the NFL, I have to be accountable to several layers of red tape." If she wasn't the absolute boss of the halftime show, then, he asks, how does Katy own the copyright? A spokesperson for Perry's legal team at Greenberg Traurig LLP could not be reached for comment at press time.
"Just drop this thing," he ends the letter. "My client wants to get back to his business, and he... would be grateful if you'd just back off."
So, for now, Sosa is just going to go ahead and keep selling Left Shark, as well as Drunk Shark, Pink Drunk Shark and, yes, Right Shark.
Frankly, Sosa couldn't be happier that Perry's lawyers have come after him, since it has been a boon for his business. "Way to go @katyperry #leftshark lawyers. Thanks to you this model has been downloaded 11,214 times.. Has been remixed 8 times.. You really ceased and desist my #3dleftshark #drunkshark #rightshark #freeleftshark #fightthepower #fightingback #fighting back #smallbusiness #independentartists," he wrote on Tuesday morning (Feb. 10).
He also posted some of the notes Etsy shoppers have been leaving on their purchases of their Left Shark sculpture.