December 9, 2005
Theft of signal?

The world of professional wrestling is full of hyperbole, so, when I heard a while back that former WCW World Champion and WWE superstar Diamond Dallas Page was going to sue Jay-Z for stealing the DDP hand signal that Page apparently copyrighted (a symbol of excellence since 1996, DDP's Web site claims), I didn't think much of it.

That is, until fellow C3 member Alec Austin sent me a link to a story from the New York Daily News about the lawsuit.

What to say? The issues that we are discussing always open up concerns for copyright infringement, but I haven't heard much about theft of hand gesture in the past. There are so few signals one can make with the hand that one would think that nothing is being done that hasn't been done before. But, if a hand signal has been copyrighted, hmm...

Any legal eagles out there who might be able to give some context to this? For the rest of us normal folk who have no clue how this might play out and what the precedents are, what is the implication on art and media if this case has some validity? Constant fear of doing anything because no one knows for sure what might be done before?

One person has a definite opinion, one that's pretty harsh in its stance against DDP and questioning the true origin of the hand guesture. Check out Nick Mamatas' response to the issue.

Perhaps even more interesting is the way the blogosphere is reporting the news--half frame the story that DDP is suing rapper Jay-Z (bloggers from the wrestling world or former wrestling fans), while the other half write that Jay-Z is being sued by a wrestler (hip-hop bloggers, no doubt).



Man, small world. Nick Mamatas used to be a regular contributor to the magazine I've been editing off-and-on since 1995. Neat.

On December 12, 2005 at 1:02 AM, Sam Ford said:

It is a small world, indeed. You should alert Nick to the fact that his work is being cited.

On December 18, 2005 at 12:49 PM, Sam Ford said:

The DDP/Jay-Z lawsuit has even made Entertainment Weekly this week. The implications for this suit, if it ever even makes it to court, could be interesting for future performers and also for fan-created gestures. If the fans create the DDP hand signal, who has the rights to it? Maybe fan organizations should just make it a habit to copyright gestures and phrases as well...