Saturday, June 04, 2005

Their Their Copyright 

So... gmail is down. Seems like that's not a good sign for those of us who've decided to entrust google with our entire online presence. Not that I'm expecting anything too important -- after two weeks of receiving a couple hundred B and C-list celebrity sightings every day, an empty inbox has a pleasant quietude to it.

Anyway, just thought I'd point your attention to this odd little Times article about the MTA's intellectual property woes. I'm not gonna get all boing boing on you, but the tone of the article doesn't seem quite neutral... is it all that pirate-y of me to think that the images and icons of public transportation belong to... well, the public?

Long-ish excerpt:

The authority has been trying to crack down on the unauthorized use of its logos, symbols and images. But with only one lawyer to handle trademark issues, it has been ineffective at policing its brand. In fact, time and money are so scarce that the authority hasn't even been able to trademark all its subway route symbols, barely getting past the A, D, F, 1, 4 and 7.

In the past two years, the authority has issued more than 30 cease-and-desist letters alleging trademark infringement, but the sternly worded letters were not backed up with legal action. Among the items were tote bags, T-shirts, bagels and perfume.

Advertisers using images controlled by the authority, like photographs of Grand Central Terminal, have also received letters.
The impetus for all this activity is the authority's licensing program, which has grown to 25 product lines, including neckties, coffee mugs and shower curtains. Proceeds from the program provided the New York Transit Museum with more than $200,000 last year, a sixfold increase from 1999.

The authority now runs two gift shops, at the museum in Brooklyn and at Grand Central, along with an online store. The money pays for educational programs and reduces the subsidies the museum receives from the authority.

Legal experts say it is about time that the authority defended itself, even if it does so in the halting manner of a transportation agency designed to move millions of riders and not a private company equipped to fend off those who want to use its image.

"The M.T.A. is hardly unique in this and may even be a little bit late on the bandwagon," said Jane C. Ginsburg, a law professor at Columbia University who specializes in copyright and trademark issues. "They've got a lot of good will in the subway system, in the maps and in the symbols of the subway lines. It makes perfect sense to capitalize on that."

It makes perfect sense for whom? Why the hell should the MTA own the exclusive rights to putting numbers and letters in colored circles? Is Professor Ginsburg actually praising a public agency for threatening to sue the maker of a Metrocard cookie? Will there be a suit against Le Tigre?

Eh, enough of that. It's easier to bitch about the MTA than process the implications of the press going full-on revisionist in its understanding of the Nixon years and complete rehabilitation of its highest criminals -- read:
and, though it pains me to link to HuffPo (and pains me even more to write that idiotic abbreviation), Harry Shearer
If you haven't read it yet, it's new to you.

Finally: If you really love me, you could get me this for my birthday.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

This, I Promise You, Will Remain A Slater-Free Zone 

Somebody set us up the meme.

Done very quickly, before I fall asleep. Naps are the new social lives.

Three favorite bands / musical artists:

Jesus. You can't expect me to rank this.

The Replacements
Bob Dylan
The Velvet Underground

Three favorite songs:

Oh my god. Whoever wrote this can't possibly be a music fan. Only three? How about three of my many favorite songs by the aforementioned artists. Once again, no ranking implied.

"Left of the Dial"
"Visions of Johanna"
"Pale Blue Eyes"

Three of your favorite hobbies/interests:

Roof parties
Playing the ukulele

Three things that scare you:

Finding an apartment next fall.
Christian fascism.

(slightly altered question) Three of your favorite fiction writers:


New question: Three of your favorite novels:

Lucky Jim
The Crying of Lot 49
The Big Sleep

Three celeb crushes:

Christ. I haven't had a "celebrity crush" since 10th grade or so. Uh...
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Barbara Stanwyck
Dorothy Parker

Three favorite animals:

Emperor Penguins
Duck-billed platypus
the Northern Snakehead

Three conspiracy theories you think are true:

Kissinger sabotaged the Paris peace talks to help Nixon
G.H.W. Bush had Sununu steal the '88 New Hampshire primaries (with computers!)
Courtney killed Kurt

Three names you go by:

"your annoying and unfunny guest-editor"
Ralex (nickname circa 9th grade, due to someone thinking my name was "Ryan," refusing to accept that it wasn't, agreeing to split the difference)
David Mamet

Three places you want to go on vacation:


I send this on to Byron Calame, Erica Jong, and, uh... Vestal Vespa. I'm looking forward to Erica's.

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