Thursday, January 10, 2013

Here's The Story Regarding Our New Site Background

This morning, I awoke and my butler brought me my imported Italian blend coffee, as well as my robe and slippers. I prepared for my day and the chauffeur got the car ready. You know, a typical morning.

I happened to check the BS email as I am wont to do and there was a love note from Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC), vaguely stating that we had failed to respond to a letter from them on November 2 of last year. The email text said "Please find attached a letter from the Collegiate Licensing Company legal department.  Thank you." 

Why explain what's happening, right? Just assume I know. Solid work. 

The letter stated what you see on our background, but I will paste it here for ease of viewing:

Naturally, this did not go over well with me. Both the patriarchs of BS have a temper and we can be set off at any time. Some of you have seen this on this here site or on Twitter. We know this about ourselves and have kind of come to embrace it. It's especially useful when dealing with ignorant bullies. 

Since I couldn't conceive of anything on our site that was a trademarked Purdue logo, I fired off a response to the "assistant" at the CLC who sent the email:

We do not use or display Purdue University trademarked logos or marks for anything and we never have.
We also did not receive the referenced letter dated Nov 2 that we are accused of ignoring.
Please advise your superiors that we will consider further such letters to be harassment and will treat them accordingly. 

Boiled Sports
This particularly pisses me off in light of the fact that Purdue themselves came after us a couple of years ago when we offered the t-shirts on the site. I don't think we ever fully detailed this on the site, but here is that story. 

We wanted to offer some fun, original, entertaining t-shirts to fire up the fanbase. When we designed and produced the t-shirts, we went out of our way to ensure we weren't using anything that was protected, trademarked, copyrighted or proprietary. That didn't matter to Purdue's athletic department, though. We still got the threat of legal action because people could interpret that it had to do with Purdue. We spoke to more than one attorney at the time (another benefit of being a Purdue grad -- there are lots of other smart Purdue grads willing to help you) and the general consensus was that, yeah, they're being jerks and we could probably win such a lawsuit -- but do we really want to spend the money we'd need to spend to do so? The answer is of course not, since we barely cover our expenses on this site as it is, despite how small those expenses are. So the big iron fist of communist Purdue management wins again. We complied and ceased selling the shirts. And thus lost money. 

Back to this morning. 

Within an hour, a response appeared from the CLC's  "Associate General Counsel":
I am in receipt of your e-mail response below. I am unclear as to how you can contend that you are not using the University’s marks. The University’s marks are wallpapered to the background of your site (see link below).

Thank you for your response and cooperation.

So he was referring to our background image, which he apparently mistakenly believed was a Purdue logo. It was most certainly not. It was our redesigned, improved logo. I decided to tell him that and to be a d-ck in the process, mainly because that's what they're being:

Unclear, indeed.

The image "wallpapered" on our site is in fact NOT the official Purdue train logo. It is actually a revised, improved logo that we designed when the new one was released and universally derided as having phallic smoke, among other things. The official train logo is side-by-side with ours in the attached image for your reference.
We also are not profiting or attempting to profit from Purdue logos. We're only trying to support our alma mater.
However, to be left alone, we have removed the wallpaper, as you call it, from our site.
Kudos to the NCAA for, as always, having the proper perspective and focusing on what's important.

Was I obnoxious? Absolutely. Did the CLC have a claim? Sure, you could argue they did -- but not really in the "spirit" of the law, so to speak. 

Trademark violations are usually when someone is attempting to profit from someone else's protected work. We aren't doing that. We don't charge a subscription fee, we don't sell anything for profit, etc. And with everything going on in the NCAA, bullying a small-time Purdue site is what they spend their time on? (And yes, I know the CLC and the NCAA aren't the same thing, but let's not pretend the NCAA lets anyone meddle in their schools' affairs without approval.)

The CLC has been busy lately bullying and just being downright obnoxious. Check this out down in Alabama. No cookies for you! Gotta get their cut.

Another thing that bothers us about this -- immensely -- is that the CLC didn't stumble upon this by themselves. There is no doubt in our minds that they were tipped off to this by Purdue and, more specifically, Purdue's athletic department and sports information people. 

We aren't sure what we did to make them dislike us, but Boilerdowd was told to his face by Tom Schott once that he (Schott) doesn't trust us. Oh wait, did I say I wasn't sure what we did to make them dislike us? Sorry, that's not true... I do know. We aren't under their control -- that's why they don't like us. They don't have us under their thumb like they do with the whole of the Lafayette media (such as it is) and other blogsites that rely on press pass access and the like. They have nothing to hold over us, as we haven't asked for a press pass in years and we don't require anything special from them that they get to deny in their heavy-handed way. If it sounds like this pisses us off, that's because it does. 

We write a site that is by and for Purdue fans. We love our alma mater and we fight for it to be respected by national writers, other sites, and TV networks like ESPN and BTV....and we do it so much that at times we've had a reputation for it. We fight for Purdue to be respected more than Purdue does. That should tell you almost everything you need to know about Purdue athletics. 

Sometimes we're critical of the athletic department and/or coaching staffs. On occasion, we're critical of players, too. But for the most part, we support them, watch them, write about them and publicize them. Readers and listeners have told us that they come to us because they can't get more than a few scraps of Purdue coverage elsewhere and that being able to read our posts "scratches the itch," as the saying goes. We love that and are flattered that we can do our part. The athletic department doesn't like this because we don't regurgitate their approved media narratives and we think independently. We criticize. We call a spade a spade. When the head coach of the football team says fans who criticize him are low-character losers, we react accordingly. When the University almost pisses away Matt Painter and then blames the alums for being cheap, we call them out for their poor judgment. Same goes for the abortion of New Pete, "Makers All" and the list goes on and on. 

Again, though, these instances of criticizing our school are far outweighed by the game analysis, rah-rah columns and requests that everyone get out to support the student-athletes. 

In the end, this is a bump in the road and I guess it's the price of being as famous as we are. But we will never understand why there is such resistance to our existence. Everyone who writes here or has written here either has a Purdue diploma or soon will. We love our school. We donate money to our school. And yet because we dare to have an opinion that isn't filtered through the University, we're somehow the enemy. 

Some schools and organizations embrace amateur writers and social media outlets because they comprehend the value of partnering (or at least getting along) with other places that people go for coverage of their teams. That continues to not be the case at Purdue. And if you want people to play nice with you, one way to start is by playing nice with them.


Anonymous said...

Is there something that the rest of us in the Purdue blogging community can do to help with this, or would you rather we just let it pass?

Purdue Matt said...

Another example of how the empty suits in the Purdue AD just don't get it.

Also, Tom Schott is a special boy.

U-P Boiler said...

Problem is, if they don't come after you, they set a precedent, making it easier for the next person to truly violate the copyright and get away with it.

I agree, though, that a polite letter or telephone call would have avoided that nasty feeling you understandably have.

Anonymous said...

It must take a special kind of "cog" bureaucrat to think they are entitled to run other people's lives. It obviously didn't occur to "them" to simply ask BS to change the background.

Independent thought will be expunged. You will assimilate!

Jake Speed said...

Could it have been that Exponent chick who ratted you out? Didn't she hassle you about that MB picture at the Hope firing? I know the dates don't match but she obviously had copyright infringement on her radar. Just a thought...

BoilerRick said...

In their defense, if you don't defend your logo, copyright etc vigorously, when a real issue comes up the defendant can argue that the issue is not important since you haven't defended it in the past.
Sucks for sure but that is our legal system

zlionsfan said...

IANAL, but I think there is a difference between defending your actual property (copyrighted and/or trademarked stuff) and defending anything that might even approach it.

There are also ways of defending (what you think is) your property without coming across as an organization completely unprepared for the 21st century. It should have been simple enough for someone to contact BS on behalf of Purdue saying "hey, saw the train, we know it's not the actual train, but it's close, you know?"

Because the latter approach will usually get them what they want, and as a bonus, it keeps things civil. The scorched-earth approach works until someone with deep pockets comes along and decides to take on the bullies. The NCAA has enough losing fights on its hands right now - it really ought to be avoiding more. I guarantee you that if I had the money and the permission of BS and J, I'd contact one of the good guys and have them write Mr. Associate General Counsel with the legal equivalent of "Bring it."

zlionsfan said...

or BD and JS. or some letters corresponding to the guys who make decisions around here.

whatever. I'm not drunk, but someone else probably is.

CalTravelGuy said...

You guys are super nice to Purdue... just check out your puff piece on the DOUBLE DIGIT HOME COURT LOSS ON NATIONAL TV the other night. You could have and should have ripped them, but you were nice and positive. Anyway, I'm just kidding... everybody just relax. The internet is mostly just for watching porn.

WinamacBoiler said...

You're nicer than me. I would have gone to his linkedin page:

Learned enough about him to sufficiently dig around google until I found some douchy interview that basically talks of his failed desire to do something productive and backing into a corporate job picking on cookie bakers (Sorry, Jim's mom, I'm sure he's wonderful on the inside):

And then kept digging until I found his email address to share with my readers who would hopefully inundate him with love letters informing him of aforementioned douchiness:

But hey. That's just me....

WinamacBoiler said...

too late to add a nice little gem about big Jim and his quest for righteousness?:

Now that's funny sh*t....

Rob said...

It's way past time for a change in regime in WL. I hope whoever replaces Burke cleans house and starts over completely from scratch.

Plang said...

Everybody wants their cut these days. Whole world of squirrels - just one acorn.

J Money said...

Greatly appreciate the kind words and support everyone. But don't go after Schott or this CLC clown. We've already given their pettiness far too much attention.

AAMB Boiler said...

And in breaking news... In a surprise move, Purdue University trademarks the phrase "Choo Choo Muthas" despite having never used it in any context. In what may be a related story, an order for 200 stickers with the same phrase was cancelled today.

What a dickhead thing to do. Completely unneccesary. The odds of this site hurting Purdue's bottom line are about the same as Tom Crean making it through a game without clapping.

boilerdowd said...

It's 250 stickers that have been ordered, by the way...and that order is going through (it's been proofed...and they look pretty damned awesome).

They'll be on sale in the near future at an ebay store near you for around $3.00 (free shipping!!!).

Metallic gold/black...just in time for Valentine's Day!

PUken said...

The CLC will probably come after you now directly for posting their letter, with their logo, on the site background without authorization.

Excellent Job shoving it back up their wazoo btw.

Long time reader, keep up the good work!

ATL_Boilers said...

can't wait for the stickers! That's exciting. I'm buying one for every flat surface in my house. Well, maybe not - don't think the wife will go for that... but I'm definitely in for 1.

Unknown said...

Just wanted to add my support. This site, along with hammerandrails, are the first two I visit every morning. You guys definitely ‘scratch the itch’ for coverage of our beloved boilers that the local and national media cannot provide. This boiler in SoCal is most appreciative, please keep it coming!

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