Leave it to Bieber. Last week, a lawyer in the employ of pop sensation Justin Bieber informed the RC3 game studio that their iOS title, Joustin’ Beaver, illegally utilizes Bieber’s name and likeness. Bieber’s lawyer handed RC3 a Cease and Desist notice, and said the developer had two days to remove the app before further legal action was taken. RC3’s response was “Uh, no,” and the studio has since filed a pre-emptive lawsuit against Bieber on the grounds that Joustin’ Beaver is parody, and is therefore protected by the United States’ First Amendment.
Specifically, RC3’s claim references a United States Supreme Court ruling from June 2011 that states video games are products of expression, much like books, movies, and music. The ruling received a great deal of press coverage last year when it killed a California law that restricted the sale of violent games to minors.
RC3, which is based in Jacksonville, Florida, admits that Joustin’ Beaver is supposed to poke fun at the singer–as if the protagonist’s big, gooey eyes left any doubt–but it says that the game does not “infringe, dilute, or otherwise violate the rights of Bieber,” since celebrity parodies are protected under the First Amendment.
RC3 has apparently undergone talks with Bieber’s attorneys and has tried to explain that Joustin’ Beaver doesn’t scuff up Bieber’s trademark in any way, but it doesn’t seem as if anything was resolved between the parties.
The game, which lets “Beaver” tilt against “photo-hogs” and sign “otter-graphs,” is still available on the App Store.