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Reality bites: When copyright law and reality cooking meet, only the lawyers win

  • Suzor, Nicolas
  • Choi, Rachel
  • Wood, Suzannah
Publication Date
Aug 12, 2015
Queensland University of Technology ePrints Archive
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There’s nothing new about this recipe for success: toss in high-stress scenarios, flavour generously with competitive chefs, and garnish with a panel of celebrity judges. With all major broadcasters in the country now dishing up some form of reality cooking programme, Australians could be forgiven for having lost any expectation of original TV material. But that didn’t stop Channel Seven from taking Channel Nine to court last week, arguing its copyright in My Kitchen Rules had been infringed with Nine’s latest prime-time effort, The Hotplate. After the first few episodes went to air, Seven asked for an injunction to stop Nine from broadcasting any more episodes of the reality show. So let’s look at some common confusions about copyright law and how it relates to reality television. Because in this context, copyright infringement isn’t about shows sharing major similarities, or about protecting ideas, but rather the expression of these ideas in the final product. Still, stretching copyright law to protect the “vibe” of a work isn’t good for artists, TV producers or viewers: copyright was designed to nurture creativity, not stifle it.

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