Too Bad: SXSW Shuts Down Useful App For Finding New Bands You'd Like

from the why? dept

I went to SXSW last year and had an amazing time. Having never gone before, and hearing people talk about it every year, I was pretty cynical heading there for the first time, but I have to admit that the event was really, really fantastic, and was tremendously productive while also being a lot of fun. Due to other commitments, I can't make it back this year, but I fully intend to go again in the future. However, I'm surprised, and a bit disappointed, to hear that the folks at SXSW have taken to IP bullying, of sorts, in forcing what sounds like a useful app to shut down. Evolver.fm had a profile of a nice little app to help you find bands that you'd probably like at SXSW:
To that end, each spring sees a new crop of tools that let you apply your personal taste to the SXSW artist list to find bands to see, or at the very least, hear from afar. Lastsx.sw is the best we’ve seen this year so far.

EarthPeople cobbled together the nicely-designed Lastsx.sw by grabbing your favorite artists from Last.fm (you are scrobbling, aren’t you?), finding similar artists in the SXSW 2012 artist list, and presenting you with handy links so you can hear those artists on Spotify and check out their official websites.

Lastsx.sw worked great for me — in fact, I’m enjoying some new (to me) stuff courtesy of the site right now in Spotify and scrobbling it to both Facebook and Last.fm, but that’s a different story. Also, I may never have realized that old fave The Wedding Present are playing SXSW this year, so now I have that to look forward to.
Neat, right? Except at the top of the story, Evolver now notes that SXSW forced the app to shut down. Digging deeper, and on the lastsx.sw page they explain:
we had to shut down this site.

sxsw lawyers:
"We strongly believe that anyone who sees your solicitations or promotions will assume that we are endorsing your company".

as if this was a company endevour, or had any promotions or solicitations. total lameness. here's a thought for you: launch a public api. have a look at roskildelabs.com. their idea/attitude: perfect.
They do, however, have their source code up for anyone who wants to do anything about it. Either way, this seems like a silly move by SXSW. Every year tons of new apps show up, and use SXSW as a useful proving ground. SXSW encourages this. And this seems like a particularly useful app for the music side of the event. Clearly, the concern from SXSW is over the trademark issue, and the fact that the app has "SXSW" sort of included in the name. But the likelihood of confusion here was slim to none. Just because someone uses your name in an accurate and descriptive manner doesn't mean that there's infringement.

More importantly, as the folks who made the app note, this was not a commercial endeavor. For trademark infringement to occur, it has to be used in commerce. In other words, no trademark infringement, and it's too bad that SXSW jumped the gun in threatening these app makers. I realize they want to protect the SXSW trademark, but part of that is not over-protecting and going beyond what the law allows -- especially if doing so shuts down useful and innovative tools. Hopefully, SXSW recognizes the error of its ways and changes its mind on this one.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    BentFranklin (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 3:32pm

    SXSW, meet the Olympics and NFL, your new roommates in my trashcan.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 4:10pm

    I thought SXSW formed to promote the independent - UNsigned musician or band. So why does it now have a "Warner's Stage"?

    "indie" is not a genre.

     

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  3.  
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    PRMan, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 4:21pm

    How it could have been worded...

    "Hey guys. Love your app. But our lawyers are telling us that we cannot allow "SXSW" to appear in the name of your app because of the possibility of trademark confusion. Can you guys name it something else so we can all get along?"

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 4:28pm

    Oh look, reality just bit you guys in the ass.

    What happens to almost anything hip and indie and out there? Over time, it becomes popular, becomes mainstream, and well, stops being hip and indie.

    sxsw is doing what almost any maturing business with a reputation and a brand to protect does: They protect it.

    Why are you surprised?

     

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  5.  
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    Hothmonster, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 4:34pm

    "Hey your app is super useful and awesome, we wouldn't want anyone to confuse that with SXSW"

    ?!?!

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 4:37pm

    Re:

    "sxsw is doing what almost any successful business that ends up having more businessmen than supporters of its original dream and mission: Focus on making more money instead of providing a great product."

    ftfy

     

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  7.  
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    TheNutman69321 (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 4:47pm

    On a completely unrelated not to the story. Stop coming to our town. Ya'll out of towners have ruined both SXSW and ACL.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 5:01pm

    Rename the app to "North by NorthEast"

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 5:19pm

    Re: How it could have been worded...

    Offer a Dollar to either license the use of the name by the programmers or the software by the organizers. Everyone goes home happy - except the lawyers and Shakespeare's Richard the third had the best Idea of how to deal with them.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 5:29pm

    Re:

    Boring!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 6:35pm

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 6:50pm

    Re:

    The Internet unaware screw things up for those of us who use it and are aware say like the Web-Kids and the not to talented WebOldFarts like me!

    Way to go SXSW!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 7:16pm

    Re:

    thanks for the link.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 9:21pm

    "More importantly, as the folks who made the app note, this was not a commercial endeavor. For trademark infringement to occur, it has to be used in commerce."

    As it was part of an effort to market bands (and sell their music) I would say that there is certainly some commercial aspects to it. The commercial aspects of it are pretty clear, even if the people who wrote it were not intending to make a business out of it.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 9:31pm

    Stupid corporations. It's a wonder any of them can stay in business when they keep shooting themselves out of customers.

     

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  16.  
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    gab4moi (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 9:51pm

    Re: commercial

    Hell yeah, god forbid that some of the bands and SXSW got publicity, web hits and maybe audience members from the app. Hell, what are they thinking they are doing, mutually benefiting everyone concerned? There must be a law against this, or at least some way of patenting the entire process to enable law enforcement action against these conspirators!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 11:24pm

    And this is why we can't have nice things... and by this I mean lawyers.

     

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  18.  
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    PaulT (profile), Mar 6th, 2012 @ 12:44am

    Re:

    So, any application that makes money for anybody should be considered commercial, even if the money is made on behalf of an unrelated 3rd party and those who create the application make nothing?

    I'm confused... By this definition, I'm a salesman for Sony Pictures Classics because I've been recommending The Raid to anyone who will listen after I saw it a few weeks ago.

     

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  19.  
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    SXSW.blows, Mar 6th, 2012 @ 1:40am

    SXSW sucks

    SXSW sucks. And blows chunks. Go to something else instead.

    Or SX.SUCKS.SW is that better?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2012 @ 3:00am

    Mike Masnick: not invited to participate in SXSW this year.

    Some of us knew that was gonna happen...

    More hit pieces on the way, Masnick?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    PaulT (profile), Mar 6th, 2012 @ 3:18am

    Re:

    You have to be invited to attend SXSW now?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2012 @ 6:22am

    Sounds like anotother Lawyer with too much time on his hands. I would of told them to go to hell. Change the name and continue. They have free law help for creative people that are poor you know!

     

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  23.  
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    Michael R. Graham, Mar 6th, 2012 @ 7:13am

    Re: Re: How it could have been worded...

    Except, you know the reason Richard the Third advised "First we kill all the lawyers?" So he could take full control without the hindrance of those who would protect the rights of the people.

    Just saying.

     

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  24.  
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    Michael Graham, Mar 6th, 2012 @ 7:17am

    Richard the Third and Trademarks

    Except you know the reason Richard the Third ordered "first we kill all the lawyers"? Because in order to assume complete power over the kingdom he had to remove those who would protect the rights of the people.

    Just saying.

    I agree SXSW was heavy-handed, but there's a terrible fear now of losing one's trademark to third party uses. Unless we guarantee companies that this sort of use won't affect their rights, they have to do this. It's sad, but the alternative is buying tickets to a SXSW in Topeka.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2012 @ 7:29am

    Re: Re:

    Paul, no, you fail at logic.

    The intention of the software is to drive people to the bands shows and recorded products. The direct benefit is commercial, even if the software owners are not specifically looking for financial gain - it works because someone is getting a commercial gain from it (more tickets or recorded music sold, more swag sold, whatever).

    It is the sole intent of the software, nothing more and nothing less.

    Your Sony example is laughable, only because you clearly (once again) just don't get it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    PaulT (profile), Mar 6th, 2012 @ 7:42am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yeah, I must be missing something here, for sure.

    "The intention of the software is to drive people to the bands shows and recorded products."

    ...and the intention of my recommendation is to drive people to watch/buy the movie, and in fact the soundtrack (I think Mike Shinoda's music is excellent, although it wasn't in the cut I watched).

    In one instance, we have an application developed for the express purpose of helping sales for a 3rd party. In another, we have behaviour expressed for the purpose of... helping sales for a 3rd party. How is this different, apart from the fact that one is purely software based and another not? What exact factors make the application commercial (despite the fact that it doesn't benefit the developers) and my recommendations not?

    Try, just for once, to describe your unique level of logical understanding without reverting to insults, attacks or your other usual tactics, it really will help. I won't even get into why either situation could possibly be a bad thing, just answer how they are different, because I literally don't get it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 6th, 2012 @ 11:56am

    Re:

    The false claim:

    Mike Masnick: not invited to participate in SXSW this year.


    The reality: invited to participate on a variety of different things, and turned them all down due to other commitments.

    Thanks for playing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 6th, 2012 @ 11:56am

    Re:

    As it was part of an effort to market bands (and sell their music) I would say that there is certainly some commercial aspects to it. The commercial aspects of it are pretty clear, even if the people who wrote it were not intending to make a business out of it.

    Seriously: learn at least a little about trademark law before you make an even bigger ass of yourself.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    fjallstrom, Mar 7th, 2012 @ 7:33am

    i am the actual developer. hello.

    hi guys,

    happy to see that this stirred up emotions. it did for me too when i got the cease and desist.

    we mainly created the app for internal use. it took 5 hours or so for me (backend php guy) and my colleague andreas (front end designer ninja).

    any commercial aspect of this app was completely unintentional. we wanted to help music lovers like ourselves, in the complete mess that is the sxsw schedule. there is so much that could be done with the data they've got, and they're just throwing it away. too bad for them.

    so. where am i going with this. well. i'm making "promotions and solicitations" here instead. if any of you fine folks need help coming up with ideas, development or design - do contact us. we're swedish and we're good.

    kthxbai

    /@fjallstrom

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    b, Mar 12th, 2012 @ 4:22pm

    Response to: TheNutman69321 on Mar 5th, 2012 @ 4:47pm

    Why dont you go smoke some fake weed you pussy. I'm coming from Houston to fuck your city up. Bitch.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Die Toten Hosen, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 1:10pm

    Here is a very strong reason to boycott SXSW

    http://technoracle.blogspot.ca/2012/04/why-i-boycott-swsx-and-urge-you-do-to.html

    This article explains how SXSW takes money from independent artists and charges them a "fee" to apply to play at SXSW, without being transparent about the process. The bands pay money and most get nothing in return. The author rants a bit but I believe it is important to read to understand what is happening and why musik is being trodden on at SXSW.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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