A Facebook group critical of Northwestel was forced to remove its logo after the telco complained about possible copyright infringement.
“As an artist I’m pissed off,” said George Lessard, who designed the logo for the group.
When he created it, Lessard took pains to ensure no one would possibly misconstrue his graphic for an official use of the logo, he said.
“I’m well aware of my rights as an artist to use art to critique and to adapt things like that to give a political statement,” he said.
The group – Northwestel Abuses Yukoners, and Exploits its Monopoly – was set up in December as a protest to the telco’s high-speed internet charges.
The logo was only up for a short time before the complaint was lodged and Facebook took action.
“I think it was within 24 hours I got a message from one of the people running the group saying we had to take it down,” said Lessard.
The administrators removed the logo with little protest because they felt that both the group’s page, and their personal Facebook pages were under threat, according to Lessard.
Facebook replied to an interview request with a computer-generated email that said it would try to do its best to respond.
It offered no comment by press time.
However, when Facebook received a complaint of a possible copyright infringement it responded very quickly, said Northwestel communications manager Sunny Patch.
“We do own the copyright to that so when we see a logo that is ours, that has been altered in some way, we report it as an infringement,” she said.
While there are some protections for artists to produce derivative works, it can be a very complicated area of the law.
“When artists use material created by others, then it starts to get really sticky,” said Janice Seline, the executive director of the Canadian Artists Representation Copyright Collective. “Our advice to creators is to clear rights as much as you can, otherwise be really sure of what you’re doing.”
It’s not surprising that Facebook took decisive action when it received the complaint because it could be held responsible for any copyright violations, she said.
“We don’t have fair dealing for parity of satire or anything like that here,” she said. “It’s really narrow in Canada at the moment.”
The logo is still posted on Lessard’s blog and he has no plans to take it down anytime soon.
“I would love to take it to court,” said Lessard. “I’ve already decided if they get a judge to sign a document ordering me to take it down, then I’ll consider it.”
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