In these tough COVID-19 times, hope and good news can be in short supply. That’s why “The Office” alum John Krasinski started a new online news segment. Krasinski’s show is called “Some Good News,” and he presents the show in front of an SGN sign made by his daughters. The show provides some good news in these trying times by sharing heartwarming stories from around the world. However, others on the internet started using the SGN sign in their own videos, prompting allegations of copyright infringement.

“The intellectual property heist didn’t stop there”

In the second episode of his show, Krasinski brought up several examples of copycat shows. Some of the shows merely copied his show’s format and idea. However, as noted by Krasinski, “the intellectual property heist didn’t stop there.” Others used SGN signs resembling the sign drawn by Krasinski’s daughters. Importantly, copyright infringement extends to expressions of ideas, not ideas themselves. For example, webpage formatting typically does not qualify for copyright protection, but written blog posts qualify. Applied to Krasinski’s show, the overall format of a feel-good news segment does not qualify for copyright protection. However, the SGN sign is likely creative enough to warrant some sort of copyright protection. Copying the sign leaves a third party open to infringement allegations.

However, Krasinski promised during the show that he would not sue for copyright infringement. Krasinski instead encouraged others to start their own shows to share more good news, particularly during the ongoing pandemic. If Krasinski registers the SGN sign with the Copyright Office, he has some time to rethink his promise not to sue. The Copyright Act has a three-year statute of limitations for infringement lawsuits. However, if Krasinski sticks to his promise not to litigate, others are free to copy his daughters’ sign on their own shows.

The crossover with intellectual property is an interesting footnote to Krasinski’s “Some Good News” videos. What’s more important is to stay as positive as possible throughout this crisis. We can all get through this if we socially distance, act responsibly, and continue spreading Some Good News.