If you rarely dive into the deadly currents of the web, you might be unaware that during the half-time show of the Super Bowl, pop singer Katy Perry was overshadowed by a backup dancer in an unwieldy shark costume on her left-hand side who danced like someone in an unwieldy shark costume, and that the internet fell in love with 'Left Shark'.
Having watched Left Shark steal the show and anticipating the public's hunger for more than just 11 billion gifs, artist Fernando Sosa published a free 3D-printable plan of the differently-coordinated fish so that everyone, or at least everyone with a 3D printer, could have a Left Shark of their own. And then things got nasty.
Rather than basking shark in the glow of her viral success, Perry told her other dead-eyed killers to dance for her. Lawyers at Greenberg Traurig duly sent a cease and desist letter to the website hosting the Left Shark instructions, claiming Perry was the sole owner of the "shark sculpture
" IP and accusing Sosa of copyright infringement.
Left Shark cease and desist
The website appears to have complied, but those who believe Left Shark belongs to all of us are fighting back. A supportive New York University law professor has fired off a response to Greenberg Traurig on Sosa's behalf, arguing that the Left Shark costume is not copyrightable and that Perry is being a bit of a spanner.
Sprigman implies that Perry is being foolish by "declaring war on an Internet meme
", adding "but that's her business
". And that's the point he misses.
Left Shark is a potential goldmine for Perry, and if she could become the sole vendor of Left Shark merchandise it would be her business; huge business. Left Shark shark-hunting trips, Two Left Shark Feet dancing classes, Left Behind Shark novels to milk the Christian dollar - the possibilities are endless. Taylor Swift can take her copyrighted lyrics and stuff them in her Left
Shark With Swinging Jaw Lid Pedal Bin.
Perry probably feels she can almost touch it, that shining future where she doesn't have to wear corsets and shriek for an indifferent
public, because she has become the Mother of Sharks.
But as sensible as her ambitions are, there's more at stake here. Left Shark isn't about Perry, or wealth, or power. Left Shark is about celebrating people and sharks who have the confidence to have a good time whatever their skill level. Left Shark says
'It Gets Better' to everyone who dances like a wedding dad. To stifle their uninhibited, flailing joy is a sin. That's why Perry must drop her threats, and why everyone must take a stand this Valentine's Day by making their own Left Shark costume, getting in it and thrashing around in front of their loved one. Or, if they haven't got a loved one, in front of other people's loved ones at the nearest Pizza Express.
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