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<nettime> '@Radical Media' threatens radical media conf


PR company copyrights "radical media", threatens to sue activists

   Posted on April 30, 2011 by gPontus Westerberg | [20]13 Comments

   This post first appeared at

   Radical media has a long history in social movements, from The British
   Worker, launched during the 1926 TUC General Strike, via audio
   cassettes with subversive messages passed around during the Iranian
   revolution, the Zapatistas, Samizdat and Indymedia to blogs, Facebook
   and Twitter used during the recent revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia.
   Faced with a corporate media focused on maintaining the status quo,
   social movements have for years been concerned with creating their own
   media as a platform to express their ideas as well as to avoid, subvert
   and challenge dominant power structures.

   The term `radical media' itself also has a long history. For example,
   in 1983, media scholar John Downing published the first edition of his
   book gRadical Media: Rebellious media and social movements,
   exploring the history of social movements' use media - ranging from
   dance and graffiti, to video and the internet, culture-jamming,
   subversive art, performance theatre and underground radio.  In the book
   he outlines ten criteria for what constitutes radical media. I won't go
   through them all here, but one in particular sticks in my mind:

     Radical, alternative media has one thing in common. It is that they
     break somebody's rules.

   I'd been planning to attend the gRadical Media Conference, organised
   by gPeacenews in October and was really surprised to see that the
   event title was recently changed to the `Rebellious Media Conference'.
   I thought it was strange given the well-known history of the term
   `radical media'.

   Yesterday I found out why the conference title had been changed.

   It turns out that a corporate advertising company calling
   themselves g@Radical Media LLC has trademarked the term and has sent
   a threatening gcease and desist letter to the organisers saying:

     It has come to our attention that you are using the RADICAL MEDIA
     trademark to advertise a conference to be held in central London on
     8th and 9th October 2011. This conference is not an event licensed
     by @radical and you will therefore appreciate that your use of the
     RADICAL MEDIA registered trademark constitutes an infringement and
     passing-off of @radical's valuable intellectual property rights.

     @radical does not take lightly any misuse of its intellectual
     property, unauthorised association with their programs of with
     itself and any possible damage to the reputation, goodwill and
     earnings of the same.

     Accordingly, we therefore require that you immediately cease all use
     of the RADICAL MEDIA trademark to promote your conference, that you
     remove and destroy all offending materials from distribution and
     from all websites developed for your use (including Facebook and
     Twitter pages) and that you confirm to us in writing that this has
     been done.

   Unsurprisingly, the organisers were shocked and surprised. This is what
   they write gin a blog post:

     Our collective jaws dropped, how could anyone own an adjective? Yet
     in the closed-source world where intellectual property is hard
     currency, it appears that virtually anything may be trade-marked. We
     didn't know whether to rant or cry. Our instincts told us that
     anyone with a radical bone in their body should fight this corporate
     usurpation of language, but the prospect of facing legal costs in
     line with house prices tempered this instinct. Even if we won such a
     battle we could only expect to recover 75 percent of these costs,
     leaving us tens of thousands of pounds down, money which - even if
     we had it - should be spent on more useful, more radical things than
     legal fees.

   A corporate company like @Radical Media LLC has nothing to do with
   radical media. It gmakes adverts for companies like Schweppes, IBM
   and Vodafone. It doesn't break anybody's rules. It's not small-scale.
   It doesn't aim to break down power structures. This is the extreme end
   of corporate globalisation and we must resist it.

   On Tuesday 3 May (Word Press Freedom Day), at 5pm, a demonstration
   entitled g`We make radical media, you make adverts' has been called
   outside @Radical Media's offices, London W1T 7AA. It would be great if
   we could get as many people to come down as possible. There's a
   Facebook event to invite people to ghere. To show your support,
   please also blog, tweet, forward and link to gthe story. Also, why
   not let @radicalmedia know what you think gon Twitter or [33]by
   email? Or you could phone or email the person who sent the threatening
   letter, Joan C Aceste. Her number is +1 212 462 1500 and her email
   address is

   Campaign after campaign has shown that it is possible to shame
   companies into changing their policies. We need to tell @Radical Media
   LLC that groups that work on genuine radical media projects must be
   allowed to talk about what they do using a normal phrase.


   We emailed John Downing about it. This is what he had to say:

     As the author of Radical Media (Boston, Mass., 1984), and the second
     revised edition by the same title in 2001 (Los Angeles, Calif.,
     2001), both multiply cited in a variety of nations across the planet
     ever since, it is patently ridiculous and, if persisted with,
     actionable, for this entity to attempt to hijack my title and
     exclude legitimate organizations from using it in the public realm.
     I will enjoy engaging in legal action to forestall their consummate

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