I’m going to be dual-posting here and on my brand new class blog as an effort to restart this blog. This post therefore can also be found here.
Mashable reported a story about how Jack Daniels sent an author the most polite cease and desist letter I’ve ever seen. The author, Patrick Wensink, commissioned a book cover for his book, “Broken Piano for President,” that clearly infringes on the Jack Daniels trademark bottle label.
First of all, I’m not sure how the publisher even allowed the artist to create such an infringing work, let alone why the publisher even used the book cover in the first place. There’s room for creativity and satire in copyright laws, but this is far too close to the actual Jack Daniels design for it to be within fair use limits.
Usually in these cases one gets a cease-and-desist form letter from the company’s lawyer, or else the company acts like a bully (“stop right now and pay us $1 million dollars in damages”). Jack Daniels instead even offered to pay for the cover redesign, which Wensink and his publisher decided to decline.
If only every copyright or trademark infringement case were this kind and gentle. I don’t drink hard liquor (I prefer wine from Trader Joe’s, thanks), but it does make me think much more highly of Jack Daniels as a company.
It also makes me think about how I would handle any copyright or trademark infringement of my stuff. How about you? What would you do?