mardi, septembre 01, 2009

Owning the air!

Imagine you could make money with something that is just there, like the air, the sun or the water. Better than that: You could even make others pay for using it too, because you own the copyright!

Totally absurd? No. In Germany this is  almost the case. The German patent-laws make it possible.

Artists and Designers who work with Spreadshirt Germany have to deal with the issue on a daily basis. If you upload a design on Spreadshirt USA, they check it for technical eligibility and then, you can put it on the marketplace, if you wish. It's there in a second.
On Spreadshirt Germany, when you want to put your work on the marketplace it is additionally checked for its legal eligibility. And there is much chance that it will be rejected.  It was always annoying when rearing horses of mine were rejected with the argument that I "stole it from the Ferrari Horse". Well. not only that I certainly do not need to graphically steal any horses, but mine of course did not have any likeness to the Ferrari Jade if it happened that they were on their hind legs, too.

I could even understand the strict policy of Spreadshirt, but the fact that you can always find REAL traced Ferrari Horses on the marketplace makes it difficult. And no, they certainly did not have the permission of Ferrari.
Anyway, as I said, theoretically, I DO understand the strict policy, since it is protecting the designers in the first place:
Not too long ago, a designer had the idea to put water-colour on his dog's paws and let it walk on paper. He scanned the paper in and vectorised the paw-print, then put it on Spreadshirt. He later got a mail from the attorney of the company Jack Wolfskin. Jack Wolfskin not only wanted the designer to put his work offline, but they also asked 5000 Euros for copyright infringement! The designer of course argued that it was HIS Dogs paw and that paws in general should be of public domain. Well, his own attorney advised him to just pay the 5000 Euros, because he would not have a chance at court. A lot of Spread-Artist actually used some paw prints in their work and ALL got a letter from Jack Wolfskin and ALL had to pay.

Nice way for the company to make a few thousand bucks by destroying some independent artists financial existence with a couple of letters.

Now, you can not only protect graphical designs, you can also protect WORDS. This is why, on Spreadshirt you can not longer put words like "sex", dance" or "Halloween" on your design / shirts, because someone got the patent for these words. It is even better: You can also get punished, if you used these words BEFORE they actually were protected.

For me, Copyright is a good thing when it comes to protect something you actually really created yourself. In my opinion, it is absolutley revolting, that everybody who just happens to have enough money can get  rights on words or shapes of public culture. Words like "Halloween" or "Sex" belong to us ALL. Everybody should have the right to use these words on T-Shirts or elsewhere and, yes, also make money with these shirts.

For shapes, the whole issue may be more tricky, because there actually could be the risk of confusion, i.e someone could make a paw-print shirt and make people think it's from Jack Wolfskin.
But even there, I would say: A Paw-print isn't the special invention of Jack Wolfskin. If they want to have unique rights, they should create and use unique designs. In any case, they shouldn't be allowed to cash thousands of Euros just because others created and used paw-print designs of their own.

Gods keep me from ever buying JW Clothing!

Yesterday, I made this design:
It was rejected - right, because of the word "dance". How could I've been so naive to think that this word wasn't already the propriety of a greedy money-bag? Me bad.  Okay, cleaned out the word and will upload the figures alone. Just as for now on, I will upload only images, no more words. Always in the hope that at least my drawings do not have a slight resemblance to some obscure but protected Logo. Sometimes, I really wish I could just work with Spread USA or France. But these are very little markets. Spread Germany is where you make the bucks.

6 commentaires:

Mauser*Girl a dit…

I am very surprised that any court would uphold Jack Wolfskin's claims regarding copyright infringement.

Jack Wolfskin's trademark logo is a wolf's paw print along with their text, Jack Wolfskin. Not just the paw. I don't see how they can claim copyright infringement because someone uses a paw print in their design.

The funny part is, of course, that Die Tageszeitung (TAZ) used the paw print for its logo until Jack Wolfskin came along in the 1980's and registered it as a trademark for themselves. (See - And Jack Wolfskin, who stole the design, is actually suing them to stop using it. (They're not going to, they said!)

I've actually always really liked their equipment and clothing line. Most of their gear seems pretty well made, although expensive, and it's hard to get outside of Europe.

Diana Kennedy a dit…

Yes, one could assume that the Paw logo should be protected only in addition to the word jack Wolfskin. It's not that way, it seems. maybe they WOULD loose at a court, but none of the designers in question had the money to go trough the court instances and therefore, preferred to pay the 5000.
Yes, the JW clothing actually IS very attractive and would have interested me - before this incident.

Jolyon a dit…

Jack Wolfskin are after me and dozens of others on the craft site Dawanda. They are sending bills out to some housewives for depicting pawprints on teatowels or badges. Here's my letter to them asking that they explain their actions. Please take a moment and read it ! Good work Diana - thank you for writing !

Diana Kennedy a dit…

@Jolyon: I read your open letter. In my opinion, it is way too gentle and too kind.
Jack Wolfskin knows after whom they are, that they are obviously trying to make money by harassing little designers and artists, creative housewives and so on, because they assume that these people will not dare to defend themselves. This is a revolting and disgusting kind of modern robbery and should be stopped by court. You should try to connect with other people in this situation and then seek the help of a consumers association or something similar. My best wishes for you - Good luck!

sophiasfeines a dit…

How very right you are, Diana!
This is all so embarrassingly stupid and crazy, I wouldn´t think that anyone in their right mind could come up with such ideas. But companies can. It´s a shame and should be stopped legally.

Diana Kennedy a dit…

@Sophiasfeines: I sincerly hope that all the angry reactions on twitter and the blogs will do some effect.