Wednesday, November 08, 2006

copyright battle - just in time for remembrance day!

Okay, I just read an article in online version of the Edmonton Journal that sort of makes my brainz spin.

The Edmonton chapter of Women In Black (and another local store, "Earth's General Store") are selling white poppies, with pins in the centre of the flowers that say 'peace'. I'm not sure how long they've been selling them, but judging from the article, this may be their second or so year - the white poppy originated in England in 1933, with the Women's Co-Operative Guild, many of whom had lost loved ones in WWI. The Guild and the Women In Black now, both deny that the white poppy is intended to supplant the traditional red poppy - they see it as a pro-active statement that could easily be worn in conjunction with the red poppy.

The Legion, on the other hand, is pulling one of my least favourite questionably-legal cards: Halt! Copyright infringement!

The Legion has been selling the red poppy pins in Canada since 1921, in remembrance of Canada's war dead. Rod Stewart (heh - that's seriously his name), vice-president of the Legion's Alberta/Northwest Territories command, is quoted as saying:

"This practice is not only disturbing, but illegal. The poppy, in any form
other than a real poppy, is a registered symbol of the legion and can't be used without permission. The legion will ask the groups selling white poppies to stop. Legal action has been used in the past
to enforce trademark infringement."

Ummm...what about all those elementary school kids drawing poppies for the Remembrance Day assemblies? And the poppies seen online
here and here (scroll down) and here? Are they sending THEM infringement notices too? Whose buttheaded idea was it for the Legion to copyright the poppy - I don't think anyone in Canada associates the poppy with the Legion, we associate it with Remembrance Day!

Another "helpful" suggestion by the Legion was that "the white poppies "piggyback" an inappropriate political message onto Remembrance Day. A more appropriate day might be Sept. 21, the International Day of Peace, and suggest the groups sell olive branches instead of poppies."


I am conflicted on many levels. I am definitely antiwar. But there's a strange sort of split in my "definite" - in my head, I mostly "remember" the dead of WWII on November 11th. The wars/battles that have succeeded and preceeded that war have mostly had very unclear "right" and "wrong" sides. I feel an extreme detachment from the troops in Afghanistan right now - does anyone actually know what they're doing there, besides dying? It's awful to say, and I am of course saddened by their tragic deaths, but I also resent the Legion telling me that all of our war dead died in the "glorious" cause of protecting my freedom...'cause I don't really remember being asked my opinion about sending troops to Afghanistan.

I guess all this to say...I will respectfully keep a minute of silence at 11:11 on
November 11th, and if I see a white poppy, I will happily buy one and wear it
next to the red one currently residing on my lapel. But I am disappointed that the Legion, who I generally see as a strong contributor to community life in Canada, sees this pin as a threat instead of something that we should all hold as ideal. Then again, if there were no troops or war, there would be no reason for the Legion...and I guess that would mean someone somewhere is out of a job.


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