Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Copyright? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Copyright! Redux

In the course of a federal election in which the Liberal party has accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper of plagiarism on two different occasions -- one justified and another not so much -- it may seem interesting to find the Liberal party blatantly copying Apple Computer's popular (Mac/PC) advertising scheme.

Coming via YouTube, Ian Sutherland -- the Liberal candidate in the much-beleaguered West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky riding -- posts the following three ads.

The first focuses on Stephane Dion's Green Shift plan:

The second focuses on childcare:

And the third digs up the same-sex marriage issue:

In each case, the message essentially copies Apple's: the Conservative party (Sutherland's stand-in for the PC) is outdated and backward, while the Liberal party (Sutherland's stand-in for the Mac) is forward looking, progressive, and more advanced.

Of course, the spots hit a few major snags: first off, the Liberal portrayed in the ad is no Justin Long.

Secondly, the Royal Canadian Air Farce already did this, and did it much better.

Thirdly, each video ends by noting it's been authorized by the official agent of Ian Sutherland.

If this is true, then these videos are official campaign material, and Sutherland's campaign has violated Apple's copyright on this particular advertising scheme. Even the music itself is lifted directly from the Apple ads.

This while Green Shift Inc still fights to force the Liberal party to recognize its registered trademark.

It would seem that West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky has produced yet another campaign gaffe for yet another party, making this riding one of the real wild cards in the 2008 federal election.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Uh, its called a parody. Same way the Royal Canadian Air Farce & Microsoft was allowed to do it without facing Apple's lawyers.


  3. There's a difference between a parody produced for entertainment purposes, as was done by the Air Farce, and a blatant rip-off for the purposes of promoting a political candidate.

    In other words, a difference between mimicking the ads in question for comedic purposes, and for marketing purposes.

  4. Have you not seen the Microsoft ads? They do the same thing. While I'm no fan of the liberal party, there is no copyright problem on the idea.

    Also Green Shift Inc resolved their trademark dispute with the Liberals last month.

  5. There is a difference between no copyright issue being present and the owners of said copyright choosing not to pursue it.

    Apple may have chosen not to pursue Microsoft because of the presence of an Apple product in the ad -- certainly, the ad is critical of the iPod, but the iPod is present nonetheless, and thus actually helps promote the Apple product on a mere exposure level.

    However, most for-profit companies prefer to remain apolitical wherever possible -- which was precisely the issue between the Liberals and Green Shift Inc. A political candidate mimicking their ads in order to help himself get elected may not receive the same approval as the Microsoft ad.


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