Showing posts with label cafepress. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cafepress. Show all posts

Monday, November 17

Scripting Nonsense: CafePress


You won't find an explanation in a CafePress.com news release. You won't find one on its blog. You won't even find it in the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of blast e-mails it recently sent out to select members. But on Nov. 13, CafePress removed designs bearing likenessness of Martin Luther King, Jr. without any attempt to clearly communicate the circumstances whatsoever.

Never mind all the communication vehicles at its disposal, the only attempt to communicate was sending a pre-written generic marketing-laced "Content Usage Policy (CUP)" e-mail. That e-mail communicated nothing:

Dear Shopkeeper,

You can view all the images which have been pended by clicking on the following URL (or copying and pasting this URL into your browser): link

Images Pended: XXXXXXXX

Thank you for using CafePress.com!

As you may know, CafePress.com provides a service to a rich and vibrant community of international users. From time to time, we review the content in our shopkeepers accounts to confirm that the content being used in connection with the sale of products are in compliance with our policies, including our Content Usage Policy (CUP).

We recently learned that your CafePress.com account contains material which may not be in compliance with our policies. Specifically, designing, manufacturing, marketing and/or selling products that may infringe the rights of a third party, including, copyrights (e.g., an image of a television cartoon character), trademarks (e.g., the logo of a company), "rights in gross" (e.g., the exclusive right of the U.S. Olympic Committee to use the "Olympic Rings"), and rights of privacy and publicity (e.g., a photo of a celebrity) are prohibited.

Accordingly, we have set the content that we believe to be questionable to "pending status" which disables said content from being displayed in your shop or purchased by the public.

You may review the content set to pending status by logging into your CafePress.com account and clicking on the "Media Basket" link. The content set to pending status will be highlighted red.

Please visit our Content Usage Policy (CUP) for additional information regarding your use of the CafePress.com service. Once there, you may access our Copyright, Trademark & Intellectual Property Guidelines and FAQs for more detailed information regarding Intellectual Property Rights.

We apologize for any inconvenience that the removal of your content may have caused you. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.

Sincerely,

Content Usage Associate


While it would be pretty easy to critique the e-mail point by point, it might be more effective to rewrite it. After all, even instructors sometimes surrender to the idea that guidance might not be enough. Sometimes being explicit is a must.

Dear Shopkeeper,

It has come to our attention that the usage of Dr. Martin Luther’s King Jr.’s likeness on mugs and T-shirts without the consent of his estate may constitute a violation of their right of publicity in Martin Luther King Jr. Center For Social Change v. American Heritage Products, 250 Ga. 135, 296 S.E.2d 697 (Ga. 1982). As a result, we are temporarily placing all merchandise with the image of Dr. King's likeness with a "pending status," which removes such content from being displayed in your shop or purchased by the public.

:::insert links to pending merchandise:::

We also appreciate that some shopkeepers may have already obtained permission for specific usage of Dr. King's likeness on such merchandise. If this is the case with your images, please respond to this message so we may reinstate such content as soon as possible.

If you would like to know more about how we are cooperating with The King Center to preserve the image of Dr. King, please visit our blog or press center. Thank you for your understanding and for continuing to use CafePress.com

Sincerely,

Content Usage Associate


Effective communication is clear, concise, accurate, human, and conspicuous. Had CafePress appreciated effective communication, shopkeepers who had permission (like myself) would have had their images reinstated by end of day.

Instead, CafePress only demonstrated an inability to respond appropriately to its customers and, perhaps, an increasingly common but incorrect interpretation of the DMCA. It might even be worth mentioning on an online radio show this Tuesday night.

Digg!

Saturday, November 15

Killing Communication: CafePress

In what can only be described as a panicked reaction to an Associated Press story (and perhaps a cease-and-desist letter), CafePress.com placed a hold on and/or removed all merchandise bearing the likeness of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The AP story, which appeared in hundreds of newspapers, reports how the family of Martin Luther King, Jr. is demanding proceeds from the sudden wave of T-shirts, posters and other merchandise depicting the civil rights leader alongside President-Elect Barack Obama (and not alongside Obama for that matter).

CafePress members weren't notified with such a specific reason. Instead, CafePress simply sent a message with its prewritten policy rhetoric: "We recently learned that your CafePress.com account contains material which may not be in compliance with our policies."

As this wasn't the first time I've had to provide expressed documented permission to CafePress over its "hold first, ask later" policy, I e-mailed a brief message back outlining how we have permission for the usage. Doing so usually generates a ticket code and assigns you a "content usage associate," who tends to be a bit more attentive than a form letter. Not today.

Your use of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s likeness may violate his right of publicity. As outlined in our Intellectual Property Rights FAQ's, the Right of Publicity clause makes it unlawful to use another's identity for commercial advantage without permission.

Except, our use of Dr. King's likeness was not employed without permission. Our use of his likeness was in cooperation with the Corporation for National & Community Service and the Points of Light Foundation for the Volunteer Center of Southern Nevada in celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. "Day of Service." Affiliated centers, such as the Volunteer Center of Southern Nevada, were granted rights to use the image as part of a public service campaign, which is posted here. Our company receives no commercial advantage and confined such usage to the "Day Of Service" image.

Thank you for contacting CafePress.com! I apologize but it is not in our power to restore your images and host them on our site at this time. The only way we can do so, is if you obtain an authorization for commercial resale from his family.

When a company ceases two-way communication with a customer, it's time to consider another company. So while we always appreciated better print quality on paper items, it might be time to consider alternatives prior to an upcoming facelift on an experimental blog and on-demand store.

I might be wrong, but I do not believe for one minute that The King Center meant to block an approved national public service campaign that endears a prolific civil rights leader to a people. And if I am wrong, I will reluctantly start finding another Republican to write about every January.

So how could CafePress have handled this crisis communication issue? More on Monday.
 

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