Ford Copyright Conundrum

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 Update: Clarification on what happened by Ford PR Department in the Comments.

Black Mustang Club members shoot pictures of their cars and make a calendar for sale on CafePress. Ford has the calender removed claiming all images are the property of ford. Stupid.

Via Adrants (here). Thanks for the tip Christopher.

There Are 9 Comments On This Article.

  1. noNameTodayThanks

    Are we surprised at this from a company that has managed to lose billions selling cars no one wants to buy?

  2. Today I spent a couple of hours looking at Ford’s hybrid, the Escape, and comparing it to Toyota’s Prius. I was leaning heavily toward the Ford because that is what I have driven for for the last 20 years…. looks like I’m gonna buy a Prius instead.

    Ford’s simple act just cost them and/or their Dealer $25,674.00

    I recognize Ford is trying to protect the logo rather than the vehicle, but my dollars will be going elsewhere because some schmeckle in the Legal Dept has the common sense of a 6 year old.

  3. It seems like this digital divide between content management and intellectual property is widening to a point where it will eventually snap and we’ll have to deal with this issue.

    It seems like we can develop technical solutions to the intellectual property and trademark problem that exists in the world today as a result of patent and trademark laws that were passed decades ago (long before the Internet was even conceivable).

    Dan Heller has an interesting article on one technical approach to protecting copyright. I think he’s on the right track with respect to creating a system that allows people to register their work.

    My hope is that at some point we (as a community) will realize that the complexities of today’s digital age are not going to simply go away one day and that it’s in our best interest to understand the problems and come up with a solution to them that doesn’t favor the use of lawyers.

    If we had technical systems that protected copyright and could look for infringement maybe we could relax (or revisit) some of the ancient rules on the books. And then maybe companies like Ford might be a little more lenient in situations like these.

    One can hope at least…

  4. yeah. but it’s OK to some of these companies to poach Flickr images and use them for free!
    Also, anyone know what happened to those two kids that made the Safeway rap video and got sued by the store?

  5. My name is Whitney Drake and I work in Ford Communications.

    We’ve been watching this discussion with interest and I’d like to
    clarify what is essentially a misunderstanding.

    Yesterday we spoke to both Cafe Press and the Black Mustang Club
    and explained the situation (about the Black Mustang Club’s calendar) to everyone’s satisfaction. Ford has no problem with Mustang or other car owners taking pictures of their vehicles for use in club materials like calendars. What we do have an issue with are individuals using Ford’s logo and other trademarks for products they intend to sell. Understandably, we have to take the protection of our brands and licensing very seriously.

    Ford did not send the Black Mustang Club a “cease and desist” letter telling them that they could not use images of their own cars in their calendar. The decision not to allow the calendars to be printed was made by Cafe Press, because we had gotten in touch with them in the past about trademark infringements on products they sold.

    The Black Mustang Club, and any other Ford enthusiast club, are free to take pictures of their own vehicles for use in calendars or other materials as long as they don’t use Ford trademarks in products that will be sold.

    I think it is great that the Black Mustang Club, and any other enthusiast club, would take pictures of their own vehicles for use in calendars or other materials.

    I’m looking forward to purchasing a copy to hang in the garage next
    to my Mustang (even if mine isn’t black).

    Thanks for giving us the chance to have our say.

  6. This is great news, that Ford’s *not* overreaching, that Ford’s only complaint is with “individuals using Ford’s logo and other trademarks for products they intend to sell”. If I understand correctly, Ford’s problem is *not* with the photographs, nor with the *contents* of the photographs, nor with the use of the photographs.

    Instead, Ford’s problem may have been with the publisher and graphic designer who reproduced Ford’s logos on the calendar pages adjacent the photographs. Maybe Ford worried that the calendar would look, at a glance, like a Ford publication: Ford must publish quite a bit of marketing and sales collateral for distribution at its dealerships. Maybe this would have caused a kind of trademark confusion.

  7. I dont buy Ford’s excuse. Car makers and other having been trying by hook and crook to copyright/trademark the actual car, the shape, the color etc in order to cut out 3rd party providers of body panels, paint, replacement parts etc.

    How you post a picture of your Ford in a calendar without some copyrighted/trademarked logo/graphic/design feature showing? It’s impossible and Ford (and the others)know it.

    Ford could have just as easily had sent an email asking for the logos to be removed, offered a pro-forma license agreement for a token amount, thanked the Ford owners for their enthusiastic support(Mustang owners are known for this) or other alternatives. But instead, they go with the nuke option which gets the images off the site but gets them alot more bad press and bad pr then virtually anything else they could have done.

    I see calendars all the time of Ford cars for sale at club meets, swap meets, private parties and more. Ford, you need to put your priorities in place and chasing down a club of customers and then clubbing them over the head about their own cars is a bit much.

  8. Yeah, The ford response above seems reasonable except that it’s nonsense IMO.

    “What we do have an issue with are individuals using Ford’s logo and other trademarks for products they intend to sell.”
    As someone mentioned, there are a zillion trademarks over the cars – colour/shape/badge/whatever. You would have to put a box around the car to avoid some trademark or other been in the picture. The “sell” is just wrong to me… They clearly did not intend to mass produce this for general sale… it was no doubt to cover costs and raise money from members for the club.

    I understand Ford has the legal right to stop the publication (some excuse that it was not their decision is just that) but think about the business decision to piss off some loyal customers for a second…. not to mention the publicity which people see through excuses like the one above if they even see them. Has not worked so well for the music industry in the longer term has it?

    I agree the club should have approached Ford about it but equally Ford should have given them some approval maybe reserving a right to see the usage and approval of the usage & volume e.t.c. beforhand.

    I just think it’s another poor business decision by Ford.

  9. Certainly my understanding may be wrong, and not for the first time, either.

    Nevertheless, my close reading was that Ford is unfazed by the reproduction of their logos when clearly incorporated and displayed as a small part of any photograph of an automobile. I’m more optimistic: that Ford’s objection was to the graphic designer’s use of Ford’s logos and graphics on the pages adjacent the photographs. (Or overlaid on the photographs.) If I’ve got my understanding right, Ford objected to the publisher’s use of the (larger) logos on the pages, which would have made the calendar, in places, look like a Ford Motor Company publication. I suspect the publisher mis-interpreted Ford as objecting to the optical contents *inside* the edges of the photographs.

    And apologies again, if I’ve got that wrong: this Brooklyn boy is still mad at Detroit in the matter of the demise of trolleys.