Friday, October 21, 2011

If You're Going To Be A Moron, Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair

Peace, man!  It's time to be groovy and Aquarian and wow I really can't sustain that without snickering.  If you haven't guessed, today's copyright/trademark ridiculousness involves a couple or thousand hippies.  So light some incense and eat some granola, we're going really far out, man.  Okay, I'll stop.

This is another, "Wait, you didn't originate the phrase but now you want to trademark it so no one but you can use it?" issue, like the Bellamy Brothers from last week.  This one is worse, though, in that the phrase was coined by hippies and used freely for about thirty years before someone got the bright idea that it should be, um, "protected."  The phrase was "The Summer of Love" and the someone was Bill Graham Presents, the huge concert promotion company.  Bill Graham was a huge presence in the music scene in San Francisco in the 60's.  All the psychedelic posters you've seen of Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead and Hendrix at the Filmore Auditorium?  Graham was probably the promoter.  If he wasn't Chet Helms probably was which led to the first time they butted heads. 

Graham tragically passed away in 1991 but his company still exists and in 1997 they filed a trademark claim for the phrase "Summer of Love," meaning that anyone wanting to use that phrase for commercial purposes would have to ask their permission and in some cases pay a fee, including the then very much alive and very angry Chet Helms.  Helms said that he was on a committee that coined the phrase to begin with.  Helms and other Bay Area promoters stood against Bill Graham Presents but the phrase was trademarked.  Jerry Pompili of BGP was quoted as saying that he'd "license 'Summer of Love' to [Helms] for a dollar and I'd give him the dollar," which is all fine and good but kind of misses the point by a mile or ten.

While Helms was an active promoter he worked with a lot of awesome bands but he could have rested on his laurels after introducing this woman to the world.  Thanks, Chet.

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