A Semiotics Perspective of Copyright Fair Dealing/Fair Use and Trademark Infringement/Dilution

Date: September 21, 2018 (Friday)
Time: 6pm – 7pm
Venue: Academic Conference Room, 11/F Cheng Yu Tung Tower, the University of Hong Kong

Speaker: Professor David Tan (Full Professor and Vice Dean (Academic Affairs), Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore)

Abstract: A well-known literary or artistic work does much more than simply educate, inform or entertain; it also functions as a signifier of a set of signified meanings. A trademark does not only designate the source or origin of goods. Famous brands like Louis Vuitton, Apple and Nike possess particular configurations of meanings that offer peculiarly powerful affirmations of belonging and recognition in the lives of their customers around the world. The semiotic signs of these works and marks are usually “decoded” by the audience to represent a defined cluster of meanings and subsequently “recoded” in different expressive ways. This seminar explores how the encoded meanings in works and marks may be read as polysemous texts that invite playful semiotic recodings, culture jamming and poststructural disruptions. It also suggests how audiences who engage with such works and marks via such textual signification may avail themselves of a number of legal defences under the current legal regime.

About the speaker: Professor David Tan is Vice Dean (Academic Affairs) at NUS Law where he oversees the undergraduate and postgraduate coursework curriculum, and is the first to be appointed to the Dean’s Chair there. He is also the Director of Intellectual Property at the EW Barker Centre for Law & Business at NUS Law.

David holds Ph.D., LL.B. (First Class Honours) and B.Com. degrees from the University of Melbourne and an LL.M. from Harvard. He has been a visitor at Melbourne Law School and the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law teaching courses in intellectual property and popular culture, as well as at the University of Tokyo (Todai) where he taught tort law.

At NUS Law, David pioneered courses in Entertainment Law, Freedom of Speech and Privacy & Data Protection Law. His areas of research cover personality rights, copyright, trademarks, freedom of expression, constitutional law and tort law, and his articles have been regularly cited by the Supreme Court of Singapore. His law publications have appeared in a wide range of journals that include Yale Journal of International Law, Harvard Journal of Sports & Entertainment Law, Law Quarterly Review, Sydney Law Review, Singapore Journal of Legal Studies, Media & Arts Law Review and International Journal for the Semiotics of Law. His monograph, The Commercial Appropriation of Fame: A Cultural Analysis of the Right of Publicity and Passing Off, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2017. David is also a well-known fine art and fashion photographer in Singapore, having contributed to magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, Elle and Marie Claire.

All are welcome!

Powerpoint presentation slides available here: David Tan – HKU Semiotics – Sep 2018 (PPT)