Court Spoils “Banana Lady’s” Appeal Over Online Recordings of Her Act

3 12 2014


Catherine Conrad is the “Banana Lady” (see her Facebook photos) who delivers singing birthday telegrams. I didn’t know such things still exist, but perhaps they do in the Midwest (she’s based in the Madison, Wisconsin area). For reasons the court didn’t explain, she was invited to perform at the 2011 CUNA Management School, an annual conference of the Credit Union National Association. I don’t know what’s considered “entertaining” at trade conferences in the financial industry, but it blows my mind that a conference organizer apparently thought it would be fun to bring in the local Banana Lady to entertain this presumably-national audience.

To her credit, the Banana Lady was clear with the conference organizers about her expectations. She told her handler that her character was protected by federal copyright and trademark law, so she didn’t want conference attendees posting photos or videos to the Internet without paying a license fee. Everyone reading this post knows what should have happened next: the conference handler should have told her to split. Whether they are laughing with her or at her, conference attendees will not be able to resist memorializing their encounter with the Banana Lady and sharing it with each other and their friends. Thus, thinking the Banana Lady could perform before a presumably large trade conference audience and not have photos/videos show up on the Internet is so nutty that I wouldn’t hire anyone who made such an unreasonable request.

Instead, the conference handler promised to tell the conference attendees of the Banana Lady’s expectations before the performance. You know how well that worked. Conference attendees ignored the request and posted photos and videos of the Banana Lady’s performance to the Internet. Apparently bruised by their disrespect, the Banana Lady contacted her conference handler and asked the handler to email all conference attendees a C&D, which the handler did.

Case citation: Rigsby v. AM Community Credit Union, 2014 WL 1059048 (Wis. Ct App. March 20, 2014)


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