April 23, 2016

Stop honoring Prince by appropriating his name and intellectual property for your cause.

I'm seeing things like:



That's his trademark. You don't get to use it. Even if you imagine his departed soul agrees with your cause — which it very well may not — you don't honor him by appropriating his trademark, his identity. It's especially bad to use him in what is for you a fight. The one cause I remember him fighting for was his own intellectual property rights.

As for your social issues... he was opaque. From 2008:
Prince is reportedly "very angry" after the New Yorker accused him of making anti-gay marriage comments, with the Purple One alleging that the magazine misquoted him in a recent interview. According to the article, "When asked about his perspective on social issues — gay marriage, abortion — Prince tapped his Bible and said, 'God came to earth and saw people sticking it wherever and doing it with whatever, and he just cleared it all out.'" However, a Prince source tells Perez Hilton, "What His Purpleness actually did was gesture to the Bible and said he follows what it teaches, referring mainly to the parts about loving everyone and refraining from judgment." "We're very angry he was misquoted," says the insider.
I think the best interpretation is that he did not want to be part of your politics.

ADDED: According to Van Jones, Prince engaged in extensive charitable activities and had a religious scruple against getting any publicity for it. One of his endeavors was #YesWeCode — "a national initiative to help 100,000 young women and men from low-opportunity backgrounds find success in the tech sector."

43 comments:

coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tim maguire said...

Personally, I am already sick to death at the shameless wailing of "Prince fans." Enough! He was a talented singer-songwriter who died before his time. That is sad. But he was mot a hero, he was not a saint. Why is the Empire State Building lit up in purple? Why is Brooklyn's Borough Hall, a government building, lit up in purple? Why is everyone telling their own personal Prince story, as though they lost a personal friend?

I haven't seen this parade of embarrasment since Diane died.

Curious George said...

I don't worry about honoring anyone whose "people" refer to as "His Purpleness."

traditionalguy said...

People just have to find something wrong with Prince. He cannot be that good to everybody all the time without folks putting him in his place for good deeds that shall not go unpunished.

There is a lot of that going around these days.

Laslo Spatula said...

"I haven't seen this parade of embarrasment since Diane died."

To be fair, that WAS a pretty sad episode of "Cheers".

I am Laslo.

MadisonMan said...

But the people appropriating Prince are so earnest in their virtue!!

Gabriel said...

We don't get to opt out. We can either espouse SJW causes wholeheartedly or we can be attacked by the supporters of those causes. Prince doesn't get to opt out either. His heirs and assigns can consent to allow him to be used for those causes or they will get attacked.

virgil xenophon said...

@tim maguire/

TOTALLY agree..


@Laslo/

Good one..(rim shot)

virgil xenophon said...

And unfortunately madison man and Gabriel are both on the mark as well..

David Begley said...

I have not seen a coherent and comprehensive piece on Prince and his IP dispute with Warner. All very vague and somehow the symbol/name is involved. Given the amount of money at stake, there must be an extensive written record and maybe litigation.

sean said...

I'm pretty sure the person who made the statement was joking. Plus, is it a trademark infringement to reprint a symbol in a non-deceptive way for non-commercial purposes? I'm not sure about that. I think Prof. Althouse is overreacting, probably due to her own unresolved issues with men using women's bathrooms. (She doesn't like it, but she doesn't want to be called a homophobic bigot, because she has called so many other people by that epithet.)

SGT Ted said...

Fair use. Parody.

FullMoon said...

tim maguire said... [hush]​[hide comment]

Personally, I am already sick to death at the shameless wailing of "Prince fans." Enough! He was a talented singer-songwriter who died before his time. That is sad. But he was mot a hero, he was not a saint. Why is the Empire State Building lit up in purple? Why is Brooklyn's Borough Hall, a government building, lit up in purple? Why is everyone telling their own personal Prince story, as though they lost a personal friend?

I haven't seen this parade of embarrasment since Diane died.


Really? Who makes these decisions? Is there one person at these sites who says "Make it purple" ? Ridiculous !

jr565 said...

Prince was actually against gay marriage. So, not sure if the LGBT community would want to use his symbol as, obviously it's like using a swastika.

MadisonMan said...

Really? Who makes these decisions? Is there one person at these sites who says "Make it purple" ? Ridiculous !

It's GroupThink. When "the crowd" starts making decisions, you can't expect logic.

MayBee said...

I don't really get why Prince was supposed to be so gender bending. He dressed in a very specific way, but not as a woman. He wore eyeliner. As far as I know, he was straight and never put forth information other than that he was straight and male. He was very very sexual.
Look at rockstars. Look at the Rolling Stones. Nobody would call them gender-bending but they don't really dress like the average man on the street.

Bay Area Guy said...

Let's examine this:

Prince died at 57 - when the average male life expectancy is pushing 77.

So, Prince, sadly, lost 20 years.

What's the cause?

Is it excessive drug use? Don't know. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Michael Jackson all lost 20 - 50 years.

Is it an unstable lifestyle? Perhaps. My somewhat boring, mundane existence (wife, kids, work, home, little league, dogs, church) practically guarantees I make it to 77.

Does changing your name to a symbol, make life easier or harder? Probably was a nightmare for his accountants and lawyers.

Did he have a strong circle of supporting peers or just a posse of fawning "Yes-men" feeding at the trough? Even rich successful guys need balance and equanimity in their lives.

I'm not bagging on Prince. He was a wonderful musician. He was huge in the 80s. But it seems kinda pointless to sacrifice 20 years for fame, fortune, a lotta sex and our entertainment.

Ann Althouse said...

"Fair use. Parody."

I'm not saying the joke image violated any intellectual property law (other than that to actually use it as the new symbol on restrooms would be a trademark problem).

My point is that those who think they are pro-Prince and using him this way are not honoring him. Since he was unusually tight-fisted about his work -- beyond what the law may protect -- if you want to show respect -- want to, not have to -- you shouldn't appropriate his work.

jr565 said...

"Personally, I am already sick to death at the shameless wailing of "Prince fans." Enough! He was a talented singer-songwriter who died before his time. That is sad. But he was mot a hero, he was not a saint. Why is the Empire State Building lit up in purple? Why is Brooklyn's Borough Hall, a government building, lit up in purple? Why is everyone telling their own personal Prince story, as though they lost a personal friend?"
In fairness the Empire Stste Building lights up in different colors for any number of things.so why not prince?
If it wasn't Prince, they'd have had different colored lights for something like, say, National pancake day. (Is that a day?) So, lighting it up for the death of a famous musician seems suitable.

Quaestor said...

I don't really get why Prince was supposed to be so gender bending. He dressed in a very specific way, but not as a woman. He wore eyeliner.

Keith Richards wears eyeliner even now, which looks pretty ridiculous on a face that looks like a worn-out boot.

I take it from the tag that Prince was a Jehovah's Witness, a fact of which I was heretofore unaware. (I'm mostly unaware of Prince except for a few points of recognition. Like Conan Doyle's detective I find useless information crowds out the useful.) I'm not sure if that elevates him in my memory, as my general attitude to the Witnesses is indifferent ranging to negative.

I remember my experiences with them as an undergrad. Every Saturday morning for several months two JW missionaries, Jehovah's Bystanders, we called 'em, would ring the doorbell of my apartment, generally between 7 and 7:30 a.m., not a time when a 19 year old Joe College wants that kind of company. My roommate and I would take it in turns to answer the door, listen politely, refuse their offer of a free Watchtower, and express no interest in attending a free lecture. This continued until the roomie disposed of them permanently. He had his girlfriend over so I bunked out, thus I learned of the Final Solution of the Jehovah's Witnesses Problem second hand.

Roommate and GF were lying comfortably in bed when — Ding-Dong! — the Bystanders arrived as if on cue. The normal procedure was to throw on a robe, answer the door, and listen without interest looking disheveled, sleepy, and unbreakfasted. However, roommate skipped the robe that last time. The Bystanders said very little and didn't offer any literature for his perusal. Maybe they decided they finally had gotten their point across, or Roommate had gotten his across. Don't know. Wasn't there.

Phil 3:14 said...

What is with black celebrities and JW?

jr565 said...

The Empire State Building lit up its lights in Burgundy and white in celebration of Qatar Airways Opening Offices in ESB on December 15, 2015.
So, it makes perfect sense that they'd light the lights for the death of Prince.
They'll probably also light the lights for getting Doritos in the ESB vending machine. And for National pancake month. (I don't know if that's a thing, but if it is you can be sure the ESB will have lights for it).

Quaestor said...

Benjamin Froehlich seems to think that... that... whatever it is is a symbol of androgyny. Prince designed and called it a "love" symbol, and did not imply it meant transgenderism.

Quaestor said...

If it wasn't Prince, they'd have had different colored lights for something like, say, National pancake day.

How would they do that, I wonder. Pancakes are mostly shades of brown — the brown cake slathered with brown syrup. I've never seen brown lights. Amber might do. Amber to symbolize a gargantuan pat of creamery buttery placed right on top of the Empire State, right where King Kong used to stand and swat biplanes.

YoungHegelian said...

@Phil,

What is [it] with black celebrities and JW?

The Jehovah Witnesses, like any other minority faith with relatively few adherents, have a very strong Us vs Them ethos. Once you are "on the team", they allow no other worldly divisions to come between the brethren, & that most emphatically means no racial divisions. The JW have, historically speaking, sincerely practiced racial inclusion among their members, & did so ever before the social push for desegregation became common. They have good press in the black community for this reason if no other.

I've also noticed among the black JWs I've worked with that it's a way of opting out of the mainstream black churches but still maintaining a strong religious life. There are as many reasons for leaving the black churches as their are blacks who left them, but it sure seems like the JW are a popular destination for those who do. I've also read somewhere that the average American black JW is better educated than the average white JW. That has been my experience, too.

tim maguire said...

Way to miss the point, there, jr565. But let's play pretend some more and act like that was the sum of my objection, can you name the Empire State Building tributes to other entertainers? Plenty of others have died this year. How many got a lighting?

Oso Negro said...

The jumped little shit is dead now, and unless he invested millions in a trust for lawyers to continue his quest for control on an everlasting basis, the jig is up.

Curious George said...

"Ann Althouse said...

I'm not saying the joke image violated any intellectual property law (other than that to actually use it as the new symbol on restrooms would be a trademark problem).

My point is that those who think they are pro-Prince and using him this way are not honoring him. Since he was unusually tight-fisted about his work -- beyond what the law may protect -- if you want to show respect -- want to, not have to -- you shouldn't appropriate his work."

What makes you think that the NC bathroom guy was trying to honor Prince. It was a joke. And an anti-trans in bathrooms position. Sheez.

John said...

That's his trademark. You don't get to use it..

Is it a "trademark"? Has it been registered as such? If so, doesn't it have to have the tm by it?

It is not a "trademark" as I understand the law. Since it is not for a physical good, it would be a "servicemark". I think it also requires the sm by it to show that it is intended as a servicemark.

It's been a while since I knew this but 15 or so years ago I got educated on this when I was thinking about registering my company's servicemark. In the end I didn't. It is a logo of domain name Changeover.com and if someone appropriates it, I figure it will just lead people to my site.

Also I was too cheap and lazy to follow through.

John Henry

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

Interestingly, Witnesses are a hi-bred of a Oneness God Theology that denies Jesus is also God with a missionary zeal to spread that amazing message,that cannot be called evangelical since it is actually bad news. The appeal is to pride in their small sect dupping Trinitarian Christians with confusing lies.

It is actually the exact denial of the Gospel and insists the Apostles Creed stop after the first Phrase.

On a personal level, they are sociable and nice people who also accept cult lies and honor lying skills.

Quaestor said...

Henry wrote: Is it a "trademark"? Has it been registered as such? If so, doesn't it have to have the tm by it?
It is not a "trademark" as I understand the law. Since it is not for a physical good, it would be a "servicemark". I think it also requires the sm by it to show that it is intended as a service mark.


Prince obtained four federal trademark registrations:

U.S. Reg. No. 1,849,644 for entertainment services;
U.S. Reg. No. 1,871,900 for posters, publications, bumper stickers and stickers;
U.S. Reg. No. 1,860,429 for clothing; and
U.S. Reg. No. 1,822,461 for sound recordings and videotapes featuring music and entertainment.

jelink said...

Remember how Prince had that priapic symbol displayed in silhouette during his Superbowl guitar solo?

I thought it very juvenile, very cheesy.

Sydney said...

Too bad the symbol isn't available. It really would make a good symbol for public bathrooms these days. It stands strong on its own, without the Prince association.

jr565 said...

tim Maguire wrote:
Way to miss the point, there, jr565. But let's play pretend some more and act like that was the sum of my objection, can you name the Empire State Building tributes to other entertainers? Plenty of others have died this year. How many got a lighting?

I don't know. Would they have lit the lights in honor of David Bowie dying? My point was only that the Empire State building seems to light itself for entirely ridiculous reasons. Its so bad that I had to look up the schedule one day. Because it was green and purple. But it wasn't a holiday. So I wondered why it was lit up. When I found the schedule it turned out it was lit up for some really obscure reason.
Like October 27th - purple, blue & gold for Only Make Believe and the Make Believe on Broadway Gala. What the hell is the make Believe on broadway gala. I live in NY and I never heard of that. But the ESB would have lights up for it? But they have lights up for everything.
If they would have lights for the Make Believe broadway gala, why not Prince? My guess is they DID have lights for David Bowie, even though I didn't check at the time. As that seems to be something they would put up lights for.
If they did for Prince, but didn't for Bowie, then I'd be shocked.
So, its not that I'm disagreeing with you. You're asking why? The reason is that they will put up lights for anything.

jr565 said...

"Why is everyone telling their own personal Prince story, as though they lost a personal friend?"

I know. but let me tell you this story I have about my Time with Prince. So, one day I was hanging out with Prince and Sheila E and Appolonia... So Prince says "Morris is acting like a real flake lately". And I said "I know. that Morris. He's not reliable at all". Then I taught him the riff for When Doves Cry. He was having trouble with it. But I gave him some pointers about how to play it faster. Also I told prince "You should really remove the bassline from "when doves cry" I think it would sound better without a bass. And he agreed. The rest, as they say is history.
I'm going to miss him.

walter said...

Bay Area Guy said...Did he have a strong circle of supporting peers or just a posse of fawning "Yes-men" feeding at the trough?
--
Good question. Some info suggests that when the police arrived at Paisley, no one was there but Prince.
But I'm sure Perez Hilton can be trusted with definitive info from a "source" on a subject so dear to him.

walter said...

Regarding JWs, I used to live at the end of a long gravel road way out in the country. A woman JW, maybe early 30's knocked on the door and we chatted for some time. She buttoned up head to toe..I in a some summer shorts and no shirt. It was the usual discussion..but she had a way of not accepting the usual cues to stop. It was probably a 10 minutes in when a noise emanated from her parked van in the driveway. She had a young child in a carseat getting anxious. Boggles the mind..alone..with child out in the middle of nowhere knocking on doors.

walter said...

(That's right, Ann..shorts)

dwick said...

AA-
What other 'things like' this are you seeing?
Or are you just exaggerating to beef up the case for your butt-hurt here?

Alex said...

I honestly don't get all the wailing about Prince. His fame was up in the early 1990s. The last 20 years has been a gradual fade. It's hard to keep writing pop hits past the age of 35. David Bowie was a freak in that regard.

Laslo Spatula said...

Alex said...
"The last 20 years has been a gradual fade..."

Be gentle. The last twenty years has been a gradual fade for a lot of people.

I am Laslo.

walter said...

Plus..might have "hits" in the supposedly expansive vault. He might not have wanted to ride the hit train...