Good Article on Fair Use for Copyrighted Work

December 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: "Whitestone Design Werks", Design 

Fair Use Copyright Code

Just came across this article by Steven Heller on AIGA’s site: Rights, Wrongs and the Law: An Interview with Frank Martinez, Esq. for those coming to this site searching for more information of copyright law. While this doesn’t pertain per se to the issue of smaller schools “borrowing” larger school’s better designed and more familiar mascot artwork, it does help to understand the whole concept of what is appropriate to appropriate when the material in question is copyrighted.

The article addresses the increasing challenges that design scholars and historians are having trying to put together books on the history of design when they have to obtain usage rights but are facing increased fees for those rights. If the budget is not there, how will design history be sufficiently documented when they can’t even show what they are writing about.

In a nutshell:

The doctrine of fair use is alive and well. Generally speaking, a use of a copyrighted work will be deemed a fair use when the benefit to the public outweighs the private right of the author or copyright owner. However, it is important to remember that fair use is an exception or defense to the protections embodied in copyright law; fair use is not a right or an absolute shield that creates a general immunization against copyright suitupon invocation by a scholar. The fair use guidelines are arbitrary, they have gained what definition they possess by reason of litigation and they are not embodied in the copyright statute

I encourage you to check out the whole article.

NY Times Article on Colleges vs. High School Logo Trademark Infringement Battles

Penn State Nittany Lion vs. Buna H.S. Cougar

Just thought I’d post a quick link to a New York Times article that ran today that outlines the plight of high schools across the country that are facing the legal issues of trademark infringement with the colleges and universities that they have “borrowed” for their own mascot logos. Buna High School and Penn State are mentioned very briefly in passing, but it’s resulted in an increase of searches reaching the original Buna Trademark Infringement article I posted back in June.

Colleges Tell High Schools Logos Are Off Limits

I think the bottom-line is that it’s easy to think of the big schools as the “bullies” picking on these poor little ol’ high schools who just want to have a decent mascot to showcase their school pride, but it highlights the issue of how valuable an identity can be to an organization that has invested resources, both financial and the physical effort of building a winning sports program that elevates the status of that mascot identity and how important it is to protect that investment from being trivialized by overuse by other organizations that haven’t made that same investment.

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Design As a Franchise-able Commodity? or, Is a Logo Worth More Than an Inkjet Printer?

The E-Myth Revisited

I recently had a book recommended to me by a friend that has evidently been must-reading for entrepreneurs for years called, The E-Myth Revisited, by Michael E. Gerber. I was aware of the book, but it had never been on my reading list. After my friend flat-out told me that, “You have to read this book” while simultaneously thrusting his well-worn copy into my hands I decided to take him up on his exhortation. While it has more of a Zen influence then I would like, I still found myself quite captivated with all of the business possibilities it stirred up in my mind (and heart). While there were many insightful sections that have stirred me to re-evaluate my own business model, I found myself in a bit of a frustrating quandary. For those who haven’t read the book, I won’t spoil too much (other than they all die in the end) by revealing that much of the business model is based upon developing a franchise-able vision for your company. My quandary was that I could not reconcile my appreciation for the franchise model which relies on developing systems that deliver quantifiable and repeatable, consistent results, with the reality of my business which at its very essence relies on uniqueness, abstract thought, subjective opinion and thinking “outside the box” as it were. How could a design business be modeled as a business that could be franchised?

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JEB Commerce Upcoming Identity Design – Not Just a Logo

Current JEB Commerce Logo on Website

After experiencing tremendous growth and unparalleled success as a dynamic start-up in the affiliate marketing management industry, JEB Commerce – Affiliate Program Manangement realized their logo, while professional looking, was more fitting for a business in its infancy than the maturing powerhouse it was becoming and the respected leader in their industry they were aiming to attain. Even as a relatively new player, they had already amassed an impressive client list that included brands like: Elance, Ligonier Ministries, philosphy, OfficeFrog to name just a few as well as successful experience working with brands such as Dean & Deluca and

After trying an online crowd-sourcing logo design solution and being less-than-impressed with the submissions, JEB Commerce decided to approach Whitestone Design Werks to come up with a design for a new logo in order to refresh and reposition their brand. What Jamie Birch, owner of JEB Commerce thought was a simple request to design a logo, turned into an education about the difference between “just a logo” and what a well-thought out and designed identity system was and how it was crucial for developing JEB Commerce’s position as not just a well-respected brand but an authoritative, leading brand in their space.

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Trademark Infringement of Mascot Logo! Texas High School Gets Mauled by Penn State

Buna H.S. infringing on Penn State Nittany Lions logo

Buna H.S. infringing on Penn State Nittany Lions logo on their helmets

Like many high schools with little budget and no clue as to what institutes true trademark infringement, Buna High School in Buna, Texas had been “assured” by a local sportswear vendor that using this cool cougar image would be perfect and different enough than Penn State’s Nittany Lion logo that they would be safe in using it. Not sure what alternate universe this sportswear vendor was in when they were viewing the Nittany Lions’ logo because it was a rip-off all the way to the same color, but I’m sure they felt some sense of protection in the relative obscurity of being a small high school in the middle of Texas (actually they’re closer to the coast, northeast of Houston) that no one would notice that they were using someone else’s registered trademark for their school mascot. But…someone did, and that someone notified The Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) in Atlanta, GA, who just happens to manage the licensing of trademarked merchandise for many high-profile NCAA schools and is also charged with enforcing the protection of the trademarked Nittany Lions logo of Penn State in particular. A curt Cease and Desist letter was promptly sent to the small high school with the requirement that they immediately remove the logo from all their uniforms, paint over walls with the logo and stop using the logo for any other printed material or clothing.

Penn State Nitanny Lions Logo vs. New Buna High School Cougars Logo

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