The Trademark Dilution Revision Act

An article on the wonderful blog Boing Boing today pointed out that corporate-owned legislators in Washington are currently trying to pass a horrendous piece of legislation called “The Trademark Dilution Revision Act” to further erode the first amendment. If passed this legislation would make it so using corporate owned trademarks (Like taglines, packaging, logos, etc.) from being used in any artwork. Read the linked article above for the gory details. Here are some quotes from it:

The Act contains certain anti-speech aspects which will directly affect illustrators, photographers and others.

It will serve to eliminate the current protection for non-commercial speech currently contained in the Lanham Act. It will prevent businesses (artists)and consumers from invoking famous trademarks to explain or illustrate their discussion of public issues.

For example, using the phrase “Where’s the Beef” could be actionable. Although you might use it in a non-commercial way, the (very) famous Wendy’s slogan when used to comment might not be protected by the fair use exception.

That said, there are a couple cartoonists (Kieron Dwyer and Stu Helm, aka King VelVeeeda) who have already been successfully sued in recent years for just this sort of thing (both were defended by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund)… so in a sense this sort of thing is already in effect.

How can Mad Magazine and Wacky Packages survive in such an environment? Even Superman satires will be illegal! Write your congressbastard… or senatorbastard, I guess! Write somebody, for pete’s sake. Specifically the above article suggests writing to Senator Arlen Specter, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, 711 Hart Building, Washington, DC 20510 to voice your opposition to this bill.

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