In lieu of changing code in my header template (not even sure I can do that with a multi-user [MU] WordPress blog like this one) which would black out this blog completely, I’m instead posting a small badge as a reminder to keep pushing Congress to do the right thing.
As the Oatmeal points out, do it for the jet skis and the kittens.
For a more detailed analysis, check out Doc Searls‘s commentary.
Marianne Lepa, publisher of Arts News Canada (see my blog post from July 21), wrote in today’s by-subscription newsletter about Kimberly Baker, an artist who recently graduated from Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design in Vancouver.
It’s a story of the ham-fisted 2010 Olympics/ Vancouver Organizing Committee’s approach to “copyright” and marketing rights, and it should shock the hell out of any sane person. I’ll quote from Marianne’s email (which is based on Baker’s article in Common Ground):
For her graduation project, [Kimberly Baker] created a poster that depicts a homeless man in a sleeping bag with his shopping cart beside him. The image is reproduced five times and placed just so, each sleeping bag is coloured in five vibrant shades. The title of the poster is “Vancouver 2010″.
Imagine Baker’s surprise when the printer told her that “2010″ has been trademarked by the Olympic Organizing Committee and she was breaking the law by using the date on her poster.
“Sure enough, an investigation showed that Canada had passed Bill C-47, the Olympic and Paralympics Marks Act, legislation that provides the Vancouver Olympic organizers with extreme power over the symbols and language linked with the Olympics,” she writes in a commentary on Common Ground, found in our Opinion section today.
She went ahead and exhibited the poster anyway. It garnered enough attention that it earned a Vancouver Sun review, but unlike the other four works reviewed by the Sun, Baker’s poster wasn’t given a photograph.
“Had the Vancouver Sun been so intimidated about liability issues pertaining to any formation of ‘Vancouver 2010′ ,” she wonders, “that they wouldn’t print the image?”
Appropriating objects from our culture is necessary, Baker argues, “relevant issues become visible to a broader, public audience, challenging the notions of political authority, as a result.”
After learning that she may find herself in an expensive and protracted court case if she displayed the poster, Baker instead sought permission from VANOC to use the poster. It was granted, but for only limited applications. She met with Colin Jarvis, VANOC’s manager of Commercial Rights Management.
“When I met with Mr. Jarvis, he was very accommodating and open to answering all my questions. He assured me that VANOC’s position is that they are not interested in litigation with artists and that artists have a right to critique.
“When discussing my posters, Jarvis said that VANOC would not have a problem with them. However, if put them up on bill boards across the Downtown Eastside, there would be a problem because that action would be considered more in the light of my creating a ‘campaign’, as opposed to my displaying a work of art. So how do I know where the threshold is before I cross the boundary into creating allegedly illegal art?”
A link to Appropriation Art, a coalition of art professionals concerned for the protection of the artist to appropriate cultural objects in face of stiffening copyright legislation, can be found in our Blue Column under Advocacy Links.
Readers and local people might remember the equally outrageous attempts by the VANOC to force the Olympia Restaurant, in operation for over 15 years in Vancouver, to change its name. According to VANOC, its use of the name “Olympia” as well as the 5 Olympic rings under the name — which the restaurant had been using for 15 years — was suddenly a violation of copyright. Commenting on the absurdity of it all, Denny Hatch wrote in November 2005:
…forcing Alvand to change the name of his long-established restaurant seems gratuitously nasty. It means not only changing the sign, but also the menus, napkins and brochures, as well as spending money for public and customer awareness.
Further, it renders useless his entry in all the listings of Vancouver restaurants on the Internet and in printed materials all over the world.
Plus, in five years the whole thing will be over.
It just blows me away that the Canadian Civil Liberties Association or the Canadian Civil Liberties Union or the B.C. Civil Liberties Association haven’t started a … well, a civil liberties fight over this. Are there too many of them, are they too scattered (a federal association, a federal union, a provincial association — sheesh, is this necessary? are they effective?)?
For more on the question of VANOC’s overstepping of trademark & copyright (copywrong) claims, see the March 29, 2007 Vancouver Sun article, The law says don’t try to make money using these ‘Olympic’ words, by Jeff Lee (it’s spread over 4 webpages). On the last page, Lee lists words that, according to VANOC, may not be used.
“May not be used”: christ, it sounds like some cheap scare tactic at Hogwarts, doesn’t it? Here’s the list:
- See You in Vancouver
- See You in Whistler
- See You in Beijing
- Let the Dreams Begin
- Sea To Sky
- We’re Next
- Road to Beijing
- Driven by Nature
- Road to Vancouver
- Road to Whistler
- Driven by Dreams
- Celebrate the Impossible
- Vancouver ’10
- Vancouver 2-10
- Vancouver 2’10
- Gold Medal
- Game Plan
- Host Country
- Bid Booster
- Bid Champion
- Beijing and Beyond
- I’m Backing the Bid
- It’s Our Time To Shine
- For The Fire Within
Ok, ok, I made the last one up. But the rest? Even J.K. Rowling couldn’t come up with something as absurd as this… If you think I’m kidding, Lee spells it out:
Here [the list, above] are SOME of the words that are claimed as official marks by the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games, its predecessor Vancouver Bid Corp., the Canadian Olympic Committee and its predecessor Canadian Olympic Association. All are still in force. Vanoc has ownership of these official marks as the rights-holder for the 2010 Winter Games. The COC also has some of these words under other marketing rights they haven’t given up to Vanoc but share in common.
This is so wrong it doesn’t copy. This is so hugely wrong, it can only be laughed at. Except it isn’t funny.