Dissent Of The Day

A reader ain’t having it:

You’ve made it clear you don’t want to sue anyone, and that’s because you can’t. If you want to get pissed off, save it for a time when you learn how to draw and are actually protecting original work.

Listen to yourself, “The clip art is public domain, of course, anyone can do anything with it … but check out the word balloons! JAMBA JUICE TOTALLY BIT MY GYWO WORD BALLOON STYLE!”

David, it’s a balloon with words in it. It’s about as original as a wheel or a hammer, you should sue Family Circus. You didn’t invent the concept and I find it hilarious that you want to protect anything other than your words.

You should be flattered, and it’s shocking that it took so long for someone else to do this.

This is why I was initially reluctant to comment on the Jawa Juice ad. Because as soon as I start explaining why I think they bit my style, I have to mention the word balloons, and as soon as I start talking about how their word balloons look like my word balloons, I sound like a crazy man in a bathrobe.

And I don’t want to be that man.

But you know what? I have to speak truth to power. They totally bit my word-balloon style. And, yes, I may sound like a complete maniac saying this, but: I was proud of my GYWO balloon style! Are you kidding? Rounded-edge rectangle with single line going to the character’s mouth? That looked totally fresh! I pushed Quark XPress 4 to its very limits developing that word balloon style!

Anyway, this all speaks to the broader point: How can I use royalty-free clip art and then turn around and complain when somebody else does? I’ve seen a lot of people on the internet make this point.

Let’s make one thing clear: I LOVE CLIP ART. I love that anyone can use it. I love that the same piece of clip art can be used in hundreds of ways, and in each case the context affects how you view the image. I’m totally into that. I love sampling, remixing– all that culture stuff that WIRED magazine writers publish books about.

I’ve got nothing but love for someecards (ironic clip art greeting card company), wondermark (clip art comic), or any of the other 10,000 webcomics that use the same Dover clip art I use.

But the Jarmbur Juice ad campaign looks so totally, exactly like GYWO that I feel they crossed some kind of line. I don’t know if that line is based on legal precedent, or aesthetic judgment, or just a general, common-sense “no biting allowed” reality, but I feel like it exists, and the juice-people crossed it.

From Andy on the Road:

Within the field of trademark law is a term of art – trade dress – to reference protections provided over layout, packaging, and other unique characteristics of a product which, if copied, can cause confusion in the marketplace even if the copier didn’t use the name directly. In other words, trade dress is why I can’t go into my kitchen, develop a new soda, put it in a red can with cursive white script in the same layout as a Coke can, and start selling it in stores.

Exactly. I don’t want people to think I made the stupid Jawa Juice ad campaign! I don’t want people to think I took my beloved Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable dudes and pimped them out for some overpriced juice franchise.

Because when you look at “Cubicle Picnic” (uggh, I shudder to type those words), don’t you kinda wonder, “Hmm, did the GYWO dude make this ad campaign?”

Shit, even I wondered that. And I’m me.