Who You Gonna Call? Ghostbuster Feud Lands MySpace In Court
Social networking site MySpace has been hit with a lawsuit by self-proclaimed ghostbuster Ben Davis, who operates the business "Ghost Scene Investigations."
Davis alleges that his copyright and trademark are being infringed by MySpace because the site allegedly hosts the blog of another ghostbuster, Oklahoma's Keith Engel, who runs the business "Ghost Scene Investigations of Tulsa." Davis also names Engel as a defendant in his complaint, filed last week in federal court in the Northern District of Oklahoma.
Until recently, Engel used the abbreviation G.S.I. for his business, but he recently revised that to G.S.I.T. -- apparently in response to Davis' complaints. "We have always been Ghost Scene Investigations of Tulsa, but it seems a more prominent distinction is needed," he said on his MySpace blog. "Continual complaints and conflicts from another 'team' claiming the name Ghost Scene Investigations as his/their own has caused us to add the T to our name."
It's not clear whether Davis asked MySpace to take down Engel's blog before suing. But the Digital Millennium Copyright Act says that Web hosts like MySpace aren't liable for copyright infringement by users, provided the sites take down the material upon request.
In addition, business names can't be copyrighted. An exhibit attached to his lawsuit mentions a copyright on a one-page work of art, but it's not clear from the complaint what illustration he is referring to. A Craigslist ad for Davis' business, however, indicates that he is claiming copyright protection in the name itself.
Davis' trademark claim also seems weak, because the name "Ghost Scene Investigations" appears to be descriptive, says Santa Clara University law professor Eric Goldman. Descriptive names typically can't be trademarked, unless they have taken on a meaning beyond their normal definition.
Neither Davis or his attorney responded to requests for comment. Engel and MySpace also did not respond to requests for comment.