Alex Taylor Column October 22, 2008

Front Range group inappropriately uses Daily Sentinel logo in flier

As western Colorado’s newspaper of record, our work often gets used by others for a variety of purposes.
Teachers, businesses, government officials and everyday readers use our content for their own purposes.

As a member of the Fourth Estate, we consider our work part of the public domain. We consider what we do a public service to you, and we don’t mind if — with proper attribution and context — you reuse our product for any constructive purpose.

Sometimes during election years, however, the limits on what we consider permissible get stretched. One such example of this happened recently in the Buescher-Bradford race for House District 55. A couple of campaign fliers, which you see reproduced here, were mailed out across the valley. One was sent out by Bernie Buescher’s campaign in support of Buescher, the other was sent out by a group called “Coloradans for Change” in opposition to Buescher. Both fliers used our content — one appropriately, the other, we think, inappropriately.

On the left is the one we find inappropriate. By looking at the front, it appears as if The Daily Sentinel might be the organization mailing this to you. Our trademarked logo is stripped across the top, above the recipient’s address. On the back, it takes quotes — all accurate — from our recent endorsement of Buescher to support the case against him. Nowhere does it mention that these words were actually taken piecemeal from an endorsement of the candidate. Only in the fine print at the bottom does it say that Coloradans for Change is the creator of the flier.

The one on the right is clearly from Buescher and, although it uses our content as well, it’s clearly used in its proper context — actually photocopyied the paper itself. There’s no mistaking who it’s from, nor are there questions about the content being in proper context.

So how does a newspaper defend its trademark? With a sigh, I called the lawyers and discussed taking action. But, the 20,000 fliers had already been sent out, and the group — Coloradans for Change — will likely be dissolved in a couple of weeks. I also called the group’s representative on the Front Range and he apologized profusely for the “misunderstanding.”

In the end, we decided to simply do this report. Neither of these fliers were mailed by us — even though one was designed to look like it was.


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