You Only Live Once, So Why Not Demand Payment For The YOLO Acronym You Didn't Invent?

from the you-only-live-long-enough-to-troll dept

The singer Drake has, at times, been good about not being an IP absolutist, blasting his own label (Universal Music) for taking down the music he was leaking. However, it appears that he's not above demanding money for ideas he didn't come up with. According to Mashable, Drake has been tweeting at various retailers, demanding that they send him money for selling clothing that include the word "YOLO," recognized as an acronym for "You Only Live Once." Drake posted to his Instagram feed a picture of YOLO hats at Walgreens and said:
Walgreens....you gotta either chill or cut the cheque
He sent a similar message about YOLO clothes at Macys.

Drake, along with Rick Ross, are credited with popularizing YOLO in the song "The Motto" released in late 2011. The acronym became so popular since then that the Oxford English Dictionary had it as a runner up for word of the year.

So, if Drake came up with YOLO, does he deserve money? Well, there's a problem. A look at the etymology of YOLO suggests it predates Drake's song by many years -- and, in fact, a YOLO clothing line was launched back in 2004 following the use by one of the characters in the NBC TV show Average Joe. Similarly, the term went into the Urban Dictionary way back in 2004 as well. A search of the US PTO trademark database, shows a bunch of trademarks (and applications) related to the word "Yolo," some of which date back before Drake's song. Drake may have popularized it, but he didn't come up with it, and to now claim ownership of it seems pretty rich. Though, I guess, if "you only live once," perhaps his feeling is he might as well make an obnoxious cash grab for something someone else came up with.


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  1.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Dec 27th, 2012 @ 11:58am

    That's hilarious

    I first saw and used "YOLO" about 15 years ago. I first saw it on clothing (a shirt) about 10 years ago.

    Never in a million years would I have associated it with Drake in particular.

     

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  2.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Dec 27th, 2012 @ 12:00pm

    Re: That's hilarious

    I wonder if this isn't just the ignorance of youth? I remember my daughter being shocked that I knew what "wtf", "rofl", and the like meant. She thought these were new, youth-culture terms and simply didn't know that I'd been using them from well before she was born.

     

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  3.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Dec 27th, 2012 @ 12:08pm

    Gots to gets paid

    When did selling out get trumped by gettin paid?

    Sell-out used to be a bad thing. I guess everyone has their price.

     

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  4.  
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    Mitch Featherston, Dec 27th, 2012 @ 12:11pm

    No End...

    Clearly, our world is IP-crazy. Who's to blame? I think we can lay the blame on bad business models that attack free thought and on government-granted monopolies.

     

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  5. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Dec 27th, 2012 @ 12:12pm

    OH, NOW you distance yourself!

    "The singer Drake has, at times, been good about not being an IP absolutist," -- NOW he's an "anomaly", right? You won't stick by your examples, which is just another example of your cherry picking approach to argument.

     

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  6.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Dec 27th, 2012 @ 12:14pm

    Re: OH, NOW you distance yourself!

    Blue...you're the one who constantly goes on about "anomalies", not us here at Techdirt.

     

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  7.  
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    MrWilson, Dec 27th, 2012 @ 12:19pm

    Re: Re: That's hilarious

    I've seen this before as well.

    Notably, I think a lot of people who were kids of the Ninja Turtle cartoon era believed that the Turtles were the original source of the surfer lingo they used.

     

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  8.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Dec 27th, 2012 @ 12:25pm

    Re: OH, NOW you distance yourself!

    Huh? That made no sense.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    trish, Dec 27th, 2012 @ 12:30pm

    Mike, If there's one thing I learned reading Techdirt, it's that artists or anyone associated with art does not actually have to do anything to deserve money, besides ask for it and bitch about how much they deserve it. For, you know, his future grandkids might have to work otherwise.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2012 @ 12:36pm

    Tweets

    These are just tweets. Until I see a lawsuit I am taking it as a joke.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2012 @ 12:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: That's hilarious

    Cowabunga dude!

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2012 @ 12:54pm

    Re: OH, NOW you distance yourself!

    You're not even trying to be coherent anymore, are you?

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2012 @ 1:10pm

    Who is Drake?

    :confused:

     

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  14.  
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    jameshogg (profile), Dec 27th, 2012 @ 1:15pm

    The ridicule always seems to appear from the side of IP proponents rather than their counterparts.

    Always a sign of a conservative, status-quo mantra that is grinding against reality and has been going on for too long.

     

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  15.  
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    jameshogg (profile), Dec 27th, 2012 @ 1:23pm

    Re: OH, NOW you distance yourself!

    I would defend Apple against anyone who tried to patent troll them. I would also do the same defending Samsung against patent trolls.

    I would also defend the MPAA and RIAA against copyright litigation.

    Indeed, I would attack Kickstarter if it attempted to obtain the IP of other people's projects for abusive ends. Instagram and Facebook have recently tried this, and ended up getting the backlash they deserve.

    You always look at the action itself, not the people involved with that action. That is what we call "matter of principle". Always take the side of the victim.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2012 @ 1:30pm

    Re:

    He's a Shadowrun character who can transform into a dragon.

     

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  17.  
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    Franklin G Ryzzo (profile), Dec 27th, 2012 @ 1:32pm

    Re:

    Drake is the first name of Drake Mallard... otherwise known as Darkwing Duck.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drake_Mallard#Cast_and_characters

    He's a superhero from a nineties Disney cartoon kind of like Batman but funnier and with more Launchpad McQuack.

    /amidoinrite?

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2012 @ 1:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: That's hilarious

    They aren't...? Life = ruined!

     

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  19.  
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    dennis deems (profile), Dec 27th, 2012 @ 2:01pm

    Re: Re:

    Nice!

     

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  20.  
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    Eric Goldman (profile), Dec 27th, 2012 @ 2:04pm

    YOLO = You Only Lose Once?

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2012 @ 2:04pm

    Re:

    He used to be on "The Amanda Show" before joining forces with Josh.

     

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  22.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Dec 27th, 2012 @ 3:32pm

    Re:

    If he continues on this path, he's going to lose a lot more than just once...

     

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  23.  
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    loaderboy (profile), Dec 27th, 2012 @ 4:40pm

    I lay claim to ...

    BOGO. I think I'll start trolling department and grocery stores tomorrow.

     

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  24.  
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    spaceman spiff, Dec 27th, 2012 @ 9:06pm

    What a maroon!

    Yolo county California my disagree with this bonehead...

     

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  25.  
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    Reality Check (profile), Dec 27th, 2012 @ 9:14pm

    Re:

    Someone should sue him about using that name.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2012 @ 10:27pm

    Re: That's hilarious

    So now you're saying that "touring and t-shirts" aren't the solution? wow, ok... too funny... seems like you guys aren't happy unless artists aren't getting paid no matter how "innovative" they are... seems to me, it's a pretty innovative idea to make t-shirts with your own logo and phrase!

     

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  27.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Dec 28th, 2012 @ 1:01am

    Like most people who's Ego's are bigger than their intellects he has been using the wrong Acronym for himself.

    Instead reading the above info he should be using FIGJAM

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2012 @ 8:16am

    Re: Re: That's hilarious

    You're not that sharp on the uptake, are you?

    No, what was said, quite clearly, is that the phrase YOLO was on t-shirts AT LEAST 15 years ago. Meaning that the phrase was around long before Drake was and, for John Federson at least, is in no way associated with Drake.

    Nothing more was said, nothing less was said.

    You of course attempted to spin that to a shot against artists profiting. A failed shot at that.

    But again, to clarify, Drake is not innovating. Why not? Because the phrase "you only live once" has been around for quite some time now, and quite some time before Drake was singing it, thereby meaning it is NOT his phrase. He is of course free to make and sell t-shirts with his own logo and phrases, but claiming ownership over the phrase "you only live once" and attempting to extort others for using what is and has been a common phrase for some time is a bit much.

    So yes, in this case, Drake is in the wrong. As are you, but when it comes to YOU being wrong... well, that's par for the course.

     

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  29.  
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    TroutFishingUSA, Dec 28th, 2012 @ 10:59am

    Re:

    Maybe you should try actually getting to know some artists, rather than taking your cues from an admitted Google shill and a guy who makes no bones about wanting to strip artist's income to as bare as possible because his industry just can't stand to pay people for their labor.

    For, you know, his future grandkids might have to work otherwise.


    I suppose then that you are opposed to inheritances? You're going to give everything your parents leave you to the public, right? C'mon man, keep it consistent.

     

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  30.  
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    Rev. James, Jan 1st, 2013 @ 7:54am

    You only live once

    I refuse to use the acronym, and this is the first time I've actually used the phrase since the 1970s - I thought it was stupid then (Hello, Captain Obvious?), and it's even more idiotic now - because it's become a catchphrase for gangbangers and other intellectually challenged people, used to glorify their continued criminality and/or their lack of intelligence. That is the only claim that Drake has to the phrase/acronym - he gave the single-digit-IQ crowd something they can use to show pride in their single-digit IQs.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 7:58pm

    Where do you get the shirts

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2013 @ 7:58pm

    Where do you get the shirts

     

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


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