January 15, 2016

Stupid lawyer tricks

Ars Technica - A lawyer representing Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has demanded that several of the campaign's logos be removed from Wikipedia, saying that reproducing the logos violate copyright law. The Wikimedia Foundation has complied with the DMCA takedown notice and removed the notices.

It's fairly surprising that the campaign would seek to ban wide distribution of its logos, which are clearly positive advertising for the campaign. It's even more surprising that after getting a call from the Wikimedia Foundation, the Sanders campaign didn't back down or blame an overzealous volunteer attorney—the campaign confirmed it wants Wikipedia to comply with the notice and not publish its logos.

Update: [It now says] on the Wikimedia discussion page that the campaign has withdrawn the DMCA notice, but there's still no official word on the matter from either the campaign or the Wikimedia Foundation.

Observers have noted that it's debatable whether logos qualify for copyright protection at all. Even if they do, Wikipedia commentary about a political campaign seems like a crystal-clear example of fair use. Most of all, it's unclear why Sanders' lawyers think that removing their logos from a nonprofit site like Wikipedia would help the campaign.

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