In a faintly surreal authorized contretemps, Axios stories that Activision is taking YouTube and TikTok music critic Anthony Fantano (often known as theneedledrop) to courtroom. Activision is suing Fantano to cease him from suing it first, after the critic took subject with the corporate utilizing an audio clip of him in a 19-second TikTok video about Crash Bandicoot-themed sneakers.

You may be accustomed to the Fantano clip in query. It is often known as the “Sufficient slices!” meme and was taken from one of many critic’s 2021 TikToks during which he reacts with rising horror as a pizza is minimize into ever-thinner parts. The audio has been utilized in numerous movies because it was first uploaded, however Fantano took subject when Activision used it in certainly one of its personal TikToks uploaded in June (it is since been taken down).

In courtroom filings from Activision, the corporate describes itself as “the most recent goal of Fantano’s scheme” to “selectively [threaten] to sue sure customers of the Slices Audio except they pay him extortionate quantities of cash.” Activision claims that Fantano instructed it he had performed the identical factor to different clip customers earlier than, who “paid the same sum in an effort to keep away from the expense of litigation.” It does not say what that sum is, thoughts you.

In Activision’s model of occasions, “Fantano all of the sudden determined that Activision’s video infringed his publicity rights and constituted a false endorsement” earlier than demanding “that Activision both instantly pay him substantial financial damages or be ready to defend a lawsuit,” even after the corporate took the video down.

Activision says it subsequently “had no selection however to hunt declaratory aid from this Court docket,” which means to take Fantano to courtroom within the hope that the courtroom will make an announcement declaring Activision’s use of the meme as justified by TikTok’s phrases of service, which say customers can “extract all or any portion of Person Content material created by one other person to provide further Person Content material”. 

Activision additionally hopes the courtroom will agree that “no cheap shopper would mistakenly consider that Fantano … sponsored or endorsed Activision or its video merely as a result of the Slices Audio was included in that video,” and that he “granted to TikTok a perpetual, royalty free, license to use and to sublicense to its customers to use the Slices Video and Slices Audio on its platform” when he uploaded the unique video.

I’ve reached out to Fantano to ask for touch upon Activision’s lawsuit, and I am going to update this piece if I hear again.

Whereas I can perceive confusion as to why Fantano would possibly take subject with one single use of his voice at the same time as hundreds (maybe tens of millions) of others go unremarked upon, I’ve to say I am not notably eager on handing large companies much more licence to do no matter they need with folks’s voices and likenesses as soon as they have been uploaded on-line. We’ll must see how this one ultimately shakes out, however for now I admit it is obtained me feeling just a little uneasy.