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

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Anonymous Coward says:

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!

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

jameshogg says:

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.

TroutFishingUSA says:

Re: 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.

Rev. James (profile) says:

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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