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DC Entertainment Won't Allow Superman Logo On Murdered Child's Memorial Statue 249

Posted by samzenpus
from the that's-some-good-PR-work-there-lou dept.
An anonymous reader writes Jeffrey Baldwin was essentially starved to death by his grandparents. Funds had been raised to build a monument for Jeffrey in Toronto. The monument was designed to feature Jeffrey in a Superman costume, and even though Superman should be public domain, DC Comics has denied the request. "The request to DC had been made by Todd Boyce, an Ottawa father who did not know the Baldwin family. Boyce was so moved by the testimony at the coroner’s inquest into Jeffrey’s death last year that he started an online fundraising campaign for the monument. DC’s senior vice-president of business and legal affairs, Amy Genkins, told Boyce in an email that 'for a variety of legal reasons, we are not able to accede to the request, nor many other incredibly worthy projects that come to our attention.'... For Boyce, it was a huge blow, as he felt the Superman aspect was a crucial part of the bronze monument, which will include a bench. The coroner’s inquest heard from Jeffrey’s father that his son loved to dress up as Superman."
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DC Entertainment Won't Allow Superman Logo On Murdered Child's Memorial Statue

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  • Superman (Score:5, Funny)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday July 07, 2014 @04:22PM (#47402505) Journal

    Superman, standing for truth, justice and IP rights!

    • Re:Superman (Score:5, Insightful)

      by oodaloop (1229816) on Monday July 07, 2014 @04:26PM (#47402529)
      It's the American way!
      • Re:Superman (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TWX (665546) on Monday July 07, 2014 @04:39PM (#47402665)
        In their defense, if they don't work to protect their trademark, then everyone will be getting their children murdered to put DC's logos on their headstones...
        • Re:Superman (Score:5, Insightful)

          by oodaloop (1229816) on Monday July 07, 2014 @04:46PM (#47402705)
          More importantly, without this trademark protection, Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel would not be encouraged to produce more works!
        • by imatter (2749965)
          I am not sure how granting rights in this case would hurt their trademark, but... they allowed a guy to dress up as Batman for the Make a Wish Foundation. Maybe the Make a Wish Foundation didn't ask for permission only forgiveness. http://sf.wish.org/wishes/wish... [wish.org] that page doesn't even mention DC Comics.
        • Insightful? - I think the mods missed your joke.
          • Re:Superman (Score:5, Funny)

            by rk (6314) on Monday July 07, 2014 @05:41PM (#47403133) Journal

            Some people mod humor as "insightful" because "funny" didn't/doesn't contribute positive karma to the recipient, whereas "insightful" does.

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward

              I really like that the parent here is moderated "funny".

          • by TWX (665546)
            I suspect that some read it as,

            "In their defense, if they don't work to protect their trademark, then everyone will be getting their murdered children DC's logos on their headstones..."

            instead how I wrote it. Dropping two short words and swapping two others takes the black humor completely out of it...

        • by mythosaz (572040)

          I'm pretty sure your parents need murdered at the opera to get a DC headstone.

        • In their defense, if they don't work to protect their trademark, then everyone will be getting their children murdered to put DC's logos on their headstones...

          Yeah, and that is going to be soooo terrible for their businesses </seriously?>

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Superman is the stupidest super hero character.

      He started out as a super man: faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, and stronger than a locomotive.

      Which would be (sort of) conceivable within the bounds of a biological creature - even from another planet - and a comic book character.

      Then he started getting powers.

      Powers that make no sense. Flying? X-Ray vision? Heat vision then later laser eyes? Stopping bullets that hit his eye? Lifting continents into space?

      That is

      • Re:Superman (Score:5, Funny)

        by daemonhunter (968210) on Monday July 07, 2014 @05:02PM (#47402835) Homepage

        where he can just snap his fingers for Christ's sake!

        That's a different God. Don't mix genres. :)

      • Re:Superman (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jason Levine (196982) on Monday July 07, 2014 @05:21PM (#47402969)

        The problem was in the story telling. Every writer would put Superman in a perilous situation and then invent a new power to get him out of it. Eventually, they found it hard to write for Superman. After all, when you have a guy who can juggle planets around for fun, what can threaten him enough that readers would think "this could conceivably kill Superman?" (We all know that Threat Of The Week won't kill Superman, but the villain needs to have a reasonable chance of winning or there's no suspense in the story.)

        They tried correcting this when they reset the DC Universe and lowered his power levels, but the writers keep doing the same power ramp-up.

        Then again, some depictions of Superman work nicely with an uber-powerful Supes. The final episode of Justice League, for example. Superman is beating up on Darkseid and notes that he feels like he lives in a world made of cardboard. He needs to be careful of his every action lest he hurt someone or break something. For the first time in a long time, he feels comfortable in just letting go instead of worrying that hitting the villain would result in needless death and destruction.

  • by NotDrWho (3543773) on Monday July 07, 2014 @04:24PM (#47402507)

    They must have the same guy in charge of their PR that they have in charge of their movie division.

    • by Adriax (746043) on Monday July 07, 2014 @04:33PM (#47402605)
      With his boss looking, Jim in PR denied 40 requests. He denied 40 requests. That's as many as four tens. And that's terrible.
  • Put it up anyway (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fustakrakich (1673220) on Monday July 07, 2014 @04:24PM (#47402509) Journal

    Then, while they're tearing it down, get it on film...

  • by ZorinLynx (31751) on Monday July 07, 2014 @04:24PM (#47402515) Homepage

    It is often easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

    If they had not asked, DC probably would never have noticed that their logo was used there. On top of that, even if they had, I doubt they would have acted on it. Suing a grieving family over a harmless supposed trademark violation isn't too good for the company's reputation.

    If they tried to use the logo now, after having been denied permission, DC would probably have no choice but to sue since this is in the public spotlight.

    This would have been a total non-issue had they just done it and not asked anyone or publicized it.

    • I should add... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ZorinLynx (31751) on Monday July 07, 2014 @04:26PM (#47402523) Homepage

      ...one good thing DID come out of this. We now know that DC are a bunch of heartless asses.

      I guess finding this out is good for society. Makes me want to be their customer less, that's for sure.

      • Re:I should add... (Score:5, Informative)

        by i kan reed (749298) on Monday July 07, 2014 @04:46PM (#47402707) Homepage Journal

        But since this is a corporate bullshit decision, you should probably hold their bullshit corporate owners [wikipedia.org] responsible.

        But if well-deserved hate had any effect on that particular company, I'm pretty sure we would've noticed by now.

        • It's corporate bullshit all the way down...

    • by B33rNinj4 (666756)
      I agree. The media frenzy from attempting to tear it down would have been insane. DC, while upset over the unauthorized use, would never have pushed to have the memorial removed.
    • by Threni (635302)

      They could still do it, and then the "spotlight" will be on a bunch of clowns in suits trampling over common sense and decency. They could always fire whichever clown was responsible and say "we apologize for our gross error of judgement; clearly you'd have to be on drugs or mentally ill to refuse such a simple request".

    • DC would probably have no choice but to sue since this is in the public spotlight.

      That, or they could be normal decent non-fuckhead humans and let a little boy have a grave that looks like the hero he wanted to be. I prefer that option.

      • by Obfuscant (592200)

        That, or they could be normal decent non-fuckhead humans and let a little boy have a grave that looks like the hero he wanted to be. I prefer that option.

        Think of the children!

        Let's be practical here, huh? The child is dead. It won't make one whit of difference to him whether there's a Superman logo on his monument or not. It won't make any difference to his parents, who should be the ones who care but probably don't. DC gains nothing from saying 'yes' to this, and they get a permanent attachment to a horribly negative event if they willingly agree. At best, it's commercialization of a tragedy.

        If your argument for allowing something is "let a little boy h

    • by mysidia (191772)

      This would have been a total non-issue had they just done it and not asked anyone or publicized it.

      I'm not sure that's true. These big publishers hire companies such as RightsCorp to "monitor and search for unauthorized usage" of their "intellectual property".

      If their rights protection contractor(s) found a Superman statue: there's no way these greedy b****rds could resist that potential revenue stream.

      • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot@worfMOSCOW.net minus city> on Monday July 07, 2014 @05:57PM (#47403253)

        I'm not sure that's true. These big publishers hire companies such as RightsCorp to "monitor and search for unauthorized usage" of their "intellectual property".

        If their rights protection contractor(s) found a Superman statue: there's no way these greedy b****rds could resist that potential revenue stream.

        True, but the media LOVES a sob story. Especially a David-and-Goliath one where it's a grieving family and a statue of their son vs. Big Bad Media corp.

        Doesn't matter who's in the right, or wrong, Big Bad Media Corp will be vilified in every news, blog, and article from then on. Politicians will make or break their careers on it (not to mention there's going to be an election for Toronto mayor later this year - you can bet all the mayoral candidates will be all over themselves trying to be first to capitalize on it).

        In other words, there's no way for DC (or Time Warner, owners) to win.

        Even if it goes to court, too. They may win legally, but lose in the court of public opinion.

    • Even if they used it now, I'm not sure they'd sue. It would make them look pretty crappy. As it is, they got a request to use their logo on a statue of a murdered child, and they were like, "Eh... we'd rather not." It's really not that hard to understand why DC wouldn't want to be strongly linked to child abuse and murder in such a potentially long-lasting medium, given the choice. How much trouble they'd go through to stop it, though, is another issue.

      Part of the question, I'd imagine, is whether they

    • It is often easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

      If they had not asked, DC probably would never have noticed that their logo was used there. On top of that, even if they had, I doubt they would have acted on it. Suing a grieving family over a harmless supposed trademark violation isn't too good for the company's reputation.

      If they tried to use the logo now, after having been denied permission, DC would probably have no choice but to sue since this is in the public spotlight.

      This would have been a total non-issue had they just done it and not asked anyone or publicized it.

      I'd just do it anyway. Fuck them, let them sue me. If they took me to court and made me take it off, I'd ware a "Fuck DC Comics" Tshirt as I chiseled it off my dead sons gravestone by hand over a period of days and invite every media org in the country to tape me while I did it.

    • It is often easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

      Often but not always ---

      The truth is that the cemetery association will have the final say here --- and it won't give an inch until DC and their lawyers sign off on this. Probably not even then.

  • a) don't know how different the copyright rules are in Canada vs. US, but hopefully Warner would have a bit more trouble b) VERY publically call them out in the press should they try to have it taken down; the PR flack should give them second thoughts
  • Clearly some rights just aren't worth protecting because they come at too much expense.
  • What (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jiro (131519) on Monday July 07, 2014 @04:42PM (#47402681)

    even though Superman should be public domain, DC Comics has denied the request.

    You do realize that a logo is a trademark issue, not copyright, and trademarks don't expire as long as they are in use?

    • by tomhath (637240)
      Furthermore, there is no reason to connect Superman to the child. This is a brainstorm from someone unrelated to him; there's no reason at all to obsess on Superman. Just build some other memorial.
    • Re:What (Score:4, Informative)

      by DRJlaw (946416) on Monday July 07, 2014 @06:29PM (#47403503)

      You do realize that a logo is a trademark issue, not copyright, and trademarks don't expire as long as they are in use?

      You do realize that trademark law concerns the exchange of goods and services [cornell.edu], not the appearance of symbols on sculptural works constructed as permanent momuments to the dead, don't you?

      Copyright is one of the few things that DC Comics could plausibly assert if this is a one off produced by an artist -- i.e., the logo does not attempt to designate a good, service, or source of such goods and services.

      You'll notice that the summary takes a shot in saying that the logo "should be public domain," not that it is, and that DC does not actually claim that trademark law is involved. Thanks for offering the trademark theory, if only because it provides an opportunity to show non-lawyers that trademarks are not equivalent to never-expiring copyrights.

  • This is a non-issue. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 07, 2014 @04:55PM (#47402775)

    Depict the kid in a skintight suit and a cape. Design a trianguar shield featuring the first letter of his own name. It would evoke Superman, but be non-actionable.

  • I am rarely at a loss for words. DC comics has me just shaking my head.
    They say that boycotts rarely work but from now on I will never buy or see
    anything that DC makes. Because it is the right thing.

    Fuck these motherfuckers.

  • Hasn't anyone considered that the Superman logo didn't belong on a memorial in the first place? It's supposed to be about a particular child, not a fictional character.

  • by netsavior (627338) on Monday July 07, 2014 @05:23PM (#47402987)
    Imagine this headline:
    DC Comics donates statue for murdered boy's grave site.

    That statue would cost less than the lawyer's fees for this fiasco and a hell of a lot less than a full page ad in the New York Times, but would get them 10x the goodwill.
  • Someone tell the site maintainer that it's time to reset the counter to zero:

    http://hasdcdonesomethingstupi... [hasdcdones...dtoday.com]

    I say, they should do the monument exactly as they imagined it, just without the "S". I'm sure some volun^H^H^H^H^Hvandals will gladly paint a nice big "S" on it once it's installed.

    BRB, off to the hardware store for some red enamel pa... um... screws.

  • Art in some countries can tell a copyright holder to STFU legally. IF Canada protects art then do it anyways.

  • Build the monument with a frame where the 'S' is supposed to go. Have volunteers (I'm thinking grade schoolers in particular) draw new 'S's to go into the frame, replacing as needed. Of course, you say put nothing down on paper about this being the plan.

    .
  • You could base the monument off of Flashpoint's alternative universe superman, who was imprisoned in a bunker far away from the sun for his entire life (where he sickened and weakened).

    http://ic.pics.livejournal.com/kiggy007/12982942/28852/28852_300.jpg [livejournal.com]
  • by Rick in China (2934527) on Monday July 07, 2014 @11:02PM (#47404751)
    I don't think it's appropriate to point the finger at a company who denies trademark use requests and say, "Bad!". This is truly a tragic story and it's hard to believe grandparents could treat their own grandchildren in such a terrible and disgusting way, however, just because DC wont grant a trademark request for some dreamed up statue in remembrance of one tortured soul doesn't mean they deserve a finger wagging. It would be great if they allowed the licensing of the trademark to the statue or the third party who is responsible for putting this all together, however, they should be fully allowed to refuse such a request, otherwise we must hold all requests to use all trademarks for all 'awww' stories in equal regard, no? If I loved coffee, and if I died in a car accident or whatever, does anyone really think my parents would be granted the right to use the Starbucks logo on a tombstone with my name on it?
  • Um, just do it anyway, without DC's money or support.
  • I've got a Wonder Woman figure beside my deceased wife's ashes. Am I in trouble?

  • They could make a law called the Jeffrey's Act, and make Superman public domain (as it should be). Would DC lawyers risk the hatred involved with fighting that? Nor that it would matter, governments being sovereign and all

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