Stranger Things

Two recent dispute resolution notes:

First, many of you may have heard about Netflix’s amusing cease-and-desist letter to the pop-up bar in Chicago decorated with an unauthorized “Stranger Things” theme. (For those of you who haven’t watched the show, watch it!) The text of the letter:

Danny and Doug,

My walkie talkie is busted so I had to write this note instead. I heard you launched a Stranger Things pop-up bar at your Logan Square location. Look, I don’t want you to think I’m a total wastoid, and I love how much you guys love the show. (Just wait until you see Season 2!) But unless I’m living in the Upside Down, I don’t think we did a deal with you for this pop-up. You’re obviously creative types, so I’m sure you can appreciate that it’s important to us to have a say in how our fans encounter the worlds we build.

We’re not going to go full Dr. Brenner on you, but we ask that you please (1) not extend the pop-up beyond its 6 week run ending in September, and (2) reach out to us for permission if you plan to do something like this again. Let me know as soon as possible that you agree to these requests.

We love our fans more than anything, but you should know the Demogorgon is not always as forgiving. So please don’t make us call your mom.

Many praised the creative and non-adversarial approach that Netflix’s lawyers used, although others pointed out that this kind of approach is not appropriate in all situations. Which is of course true, but does not refute the larger point that lawyers should have the flexibility to consider multiple approaches to addressing disputes and potential disputes — not just traditional, boilerplate, contentious ones.

In other news, early this month the New York Times interviewed Judge Posner on his abrupt retirement. From the article:

He called his approach to judging pragmatic. His critics called it lawless. “I pay very little attention to legal rules, statutes, constitutional provisions,” Judge Posner said. “A case is just a dispute. The first thing you do is ask yourself — forget about the law — what is a sensible resolution of this dispute?”

Can’t wait to hear more from Judge Posner on these and other issues (apparently before leaving the bench, he had become incensed about access to justice and support for pro se litigants as well).

One thought on “Stranger Things”

  1. I think that the approach Netflix took to resolve the issue was very amusing, yet effective. The cease-and-desist letter was a playful way to tell the Chicago bar what they were doing wrong and to stop it, but it was not rude or condescending. If Netflix had sent a mean letter, the bar could have posted it to social media and started an even bigger problem for Netflix. Instead, Netflix establishes the foundation for a good relationship to form due to the respectful nature of the letter and their appreciation for the bar’s love for the show. Moving forward, the bar will be more likely to comply with Netflix’s requests and the parties will not have to get into any further legal disputes over the matter. I agree that this strategy might not work in every situation, but it was a creative solution here.

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