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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Video Game Maker Killed the Keytar Hero

Back when I started the whole CafePress Premium Shop I had some simple ideas. Unique designs and clever parodies and homage. Along the way I have had a few uphill battles to secure my designs as fair use or in the realm of parody which would get me out of a bind with the Content Usage Policy or as I call them, Police. Quite often, they nail certain designs while others which are in more direct violation of copyright infringement just walk on by the censors. I’m usually disgusted with their quality control on content and feel targeted even though tons of other shopkeepers feel my pain. I’ve been doing research on the net to see if others have had similar problems and they have. This is all prologue, though.

My latest defeat came at the hands of the company behind the original design in which I intended to parody. When I first put up the Keytar Hero logo, I intended to parody Guitar Hero. I did intend to identify my design as Guitar Hero but used discovered a way to create the necessary font needed to parody the logo using my 80’s pop synth music roots from my childhood. The design was initially flagged as infringing on copyright but I fought it stating that parody was in the realm of fair use and that the words keytar and hero were not copyrighted. They reinstated my design and I went about my merry way. However, It came as a shock to me as I was showing off my store to a friend and couldn’t bring up my designs. I emailed Caf├ęPress and looked through old emails to find where they had nailed my design a second time. Here was their response.
We apolgize (Dude misspelled "apologize" and these are the folks responsible for judging content?) for any confusion regarding this image.

We have been previously notified by Activision that the use of the likeness of the Guitar Hero trademark, such as Piano Hero, Drum Hero, or Keytar Hero is highly problematic as that use would potentially infringe on the trademark rights of Activision.

We strongly recommend that you avoid creating designs that are based on the works of a third party to best minimize your risk of infringement.

I was a bit depressed over this. I couldn’t fight this. Activision had every right to snuff me out, I guess. Yet, I think that the design does not infringe on the Guitar Hero logo. Now, granted, I keep my feathers numbered for just such an occasion. I created a more 80’s pastel flavored design that does not utilize the same font and I’ve had no problems with it. The only thing that gives me comfort is that I hadn’t sold any shirts or other items with the original logo. No harm, no foul, I guess. After all, I might have found myself in more peril from a legal standpoint if I had profited from the design. So, I guess I can’t complain. But it still stings. Needless to say, I will not be buying any Guitar Hero games from Activision as a form of silent protest.

But I am always one to turn a frown upside down. I do have the ability to make myself one or two so, I might get a hat out of the deal. I probably could not sell them but if you really want one, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

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