Au Revoir To Kill a Mockingbird

A photo of the cover of "To Kill a Mockingbird"My oldest daughter teaches bilingual English in a City of Milwaukee high school, and I greatly enjoy our conversations regarding the literary works she assigns.  However, I was surprised when she told me recently that she and her fellow teachers no longer felt comfortable assigning Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird.

Published in 1960, Lee’s novel has for over sixty years garnered great admiration and respect as an American literary work.  Many have considered the novel’s Atticus Finch to be an inspiring lawyer hero and taken the novel’s law-related narrative to be one of courageous resistance to racial injustice.  As recently as ten years ago, virtually every American high schooler was expected to have read To Kill a Mockingbird Bird.

Why has the novel fallen so precipitously?  I can think of at least three developments that have hurt its standing: (more…)

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Risk and Liability for November Music Festival Disaster in Houston

No, this picture is not a still from an episode of “Black Mirror;” it is a photograph from the Jacques Berman Webster II (also known as Travis Scott) concert on November 5, 2021, in Houston. The fans (including the man standing on the ambulance) are unaware that their exuberant pushing and shoving are creating a crowd crush. In other words, the venue has become so densely populated that the crowd begins to function like a liquid. Therefore, pushing from the back…

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The Challenges Facing Podcast Hosts Protecting Trademarks

Cover of Adventure Zone graphic novelAmong the many technological changes in the 2010s was the rise of podcasts as a form of entertainment. Average people were able to purchase microphones and record conversations with their friends, family, or experts in a field, and then upload for people across the world to listen to.

Three brothers, Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy started recording the comedy-advice podcast “My Brother, My Brother, and Me” in 2010. After that podcast’s success, they went on to record several other podcasts, including “The Adventure Zone,” in which they play tabletop role-playing games with their father, Clint. This podcast has been done in three main storylines: “Balance,” “Amnesty,” and “Graduation.”

“The Adventure Zone” appears to be the most popular podcast released by the McElroys. Thousands of fans follow subreddits and Facebook pages and groups. “The Adventure Zone” has been adapted into a best-selling graphic novel, licensed for a tabletop role-playing game, and is currently being adapted for a possible animated show for the streaming platform Peacock.

With this fame has come devoted fans, some of whom make fan art and then sell it. This practice is largely disapproved by the McElroys, although they have not taken any legal action against creators of unauthorized merchandise. Justin McElroy has implied on Twitter that he is okay with people commissioning artists to draw characters from “The Adventure Zone.” This detail is lost by the fans, who treat all fan-creations for sale as bad. While the McElroys have created a podcast, which they appear to make money from, and they have a right to protect their creation from people seek to unscrupulously profit from it, there are challenges facing them, as well as other podcast hosts.

This is the focus of my paper You Must Roll 18 or Higher in Order for Your Claims to Succeed: Common Law Trademarks, Unauthorized Merchandise, and the Podcast “The Adventure Zone,” about which I was interviewed on the podcast “Ipse Dixit” by Prof. Brian L. Frye of University of Kentucky College of Law. (more…)

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Marquette Student Paper Featured on Ipse Dixit Podcast

Former student guest blogger and current 2L Monica Reida recently appeared on Ipse Dixit, a podcast on legal scholarship that has a wide audience among law professors, to discuss their fascinating new paper, You Must Roll 18 or Higher for Your Claims to Succeed: Common Law Trademarks, Unauthorized Merchandise, and the Podcast “The Adventure Zone”. You can listen to the podcast episode here. Monica is returning to the Faculty Blog for a couple of posts about the paper, which is…

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New Marquette Lawyer Magazine Sees Past Problems as Shedding Light on Future Challenges (Post 1 of 3)

The Summer 2019 issue of Marquette Lawyer features three pairs of stories with an underlying common theme that can be summed up by one of the headlines: “In Search of Better Outcomes.” This issue of the Marquette Law School semiannual magazine overall has a substantial historical orientation, but it also speaks strongly to current realities and issues—as has become even clearer since the magazine hit the streets a few weeks ago. Simply put, learning about the past helps in understanding…

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