Stay F---! | February 2
stay.free at verizon.net
Wed Feb 2 11:52:16 EST 2005
Posted at: http://www.stayfreemagazine.org/public/
Nothing new on the Stay Free site this week, but elsewhere in the world:
Teenage Millionaire, a company that sells t-shirts with the slogan
"Jesus Is My Homeboy," has been using its legal muscle to stop people
from parodying its product. The company sent cease-and-desist letters
to Dan Sieradski, for instance, who was selling shirts bearing the
phrase, "Jesus was a kike." The back-and-forth between the Teenage
Millionaire lawyer and Sieradski is certainly worth your while
(Sieradski is a bright bulb):
That said, Sieradski is in a poor position to win a legal battle
since he used Teenage Millionaire's Jesus pretty much as-is.
Aaron Watson probably has a better case. Like Sieradski, Watson was
threated by Teenage Millionaire for selling a parody t-shirt of
"Homeboy" via CafePress, one that read, "Arnold is my Homeboy":
But unlike Sieradski, Watson didn't appropriate Teenage Millionaire's
imagery; he used a likeness of Mr. Schwarzenegger. Also unlike
Sieradski, Watson appears to have the means to fight.
After Teenage Millionaire threatened legal action, CafePress removed
both sellers' shirts in compliance with the Digital Millennium
Copyright Act. But Watson told me he has secured a lawyer and plans
to have an official response soon. When that happens, there's a
decent chance CafePress could reconsider its decision and allow him
to keep selling his shirts. I talked to Candice Carr in the CafePress
legal department and, though she couldn't comment on the case, she
said the company is open to working with sellers who have substantial
fair use claims. The company did, after all, back the creators of Jib
Jab after they were sent a cease-and-desist from Woody Guthrie's
estate for using "This Land Is Your Land."
We'll let you know what happens. In the mean time, it's not too late
to pick up "Buddha is my homeboy" or -- my fave -- "Darwin is my
homeboy" t-shirts (Apparently Teenage Millionaire hasn't found these
STAY FREE T-SHIRTS
A month or so ago I played around with using CafePress myself in
order to make an anti-Wal-Mart t-shirt (available for purchase!):
I can't decide whether to go whole hog and offer various Stay Free
t-shirts via my website. If any of you have an opinion on the matter,
let me know. Or you could just let your credit cards to the talking.
US COPYRIGHT OFFICE NOW SEEKING PUBLIC COMMENT!
The US Copyright Office is seeking public comments on whether it
needs to clear the way for people who want to use copyrighted works
that have no identifiable rightsholder (aka "orphan works"). If you
know any stories about filmmakers, artists, authors, or archivists
who have run into difficulty in identifying rights holders, please
please write the Copyright Office and give them your two cents:
VOLKSWAGEN CAR BOMB HOAX
I generally avoid mentioning advertising efforts that are clearly
designed for shock value, but Volkswagen's new viral campaign really
gets my goat.
The blogosphere is afire with word of a commercial for Volkswagen
that features a man getting inside his VW, driving to a cafe, and
setting off a car bomb; the driver's plans go awry, however, because
the bomb doesn't explode the car, which remains intact.
In posts about the spot, several bloggers have simply mouthed
Volkswagen's claims that it has nothing to do with it; the company
originally said it was filing criminal charges against the creators
but quickly settled for a public apology.
The whole brouhaha strikes me as a transparent (albeit clever) effort
by Volkswagen to engage in the guerilla-style viral marketing that's
all the rage in corporate boardrooms now. The ad team that created
the spot -- Lee Ford and Dan Brooks -- have claimed they have no idea
how the commercial got on the internet. But Adland (ad-rag.com) found
a dead link named "Volkswagen" on the Ford and Brook's website (the
site has since been changed and the link is no longer there).
Ford and Brooks told the Guardian that the spot cost 40,000 pounds
but wouldn't say who footed the bill; the spot's director, however,
disputed that claim and said it only cost 400 pounds (extremely
unlikely given the high production values).
Keep in mind that Ford Motors did a similar campaign last year for
its SportKa. One viral spot showed the car squashing a small bird;
another had the car's sunroof decapitating a cat. Ford tried to
distance itself from the spots but, according to the Guardian, they
were made by Ford's advertising agency.
So if Volkswagen did indeed sanction the commercial, it is far from
the first megacorp to bank on plausible deniability. And since the
internet is increasingly the media of choice for reaching coveted
young adult males, you can bet it won't be the last.
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