Citizen Organizing Small Get-Together 'Rocky Run' Sent C&D By MGM Because Of Course She Was

from the cut-me,-mick dept

It probably won’t surprise any of you to learn that film studio MGM tends to be on the aggressive side when it comes to enforcing its intellectual property. Still, it sort of takes my breath away watching them shut down a DIY, non-commercial and charity-benefiting “Rocky” run in Philadelphia. It all started last year, when a Philly journalist took the time to map out the infamous training run performed by Rocky Balboa in the second film. In the film, more Philly citizens join Rocky’s run as the scene progresses. The map of the run was then put together and published, leading one Philly citizen, Rebecca Schaefer, to start a friendly get-together run that would follow the same path. The 31 mile trek was joined by a little over a hundred people, none of whom paid any kind of money to join the run, but who did manage to collect running sneakers for a charity.

Before the run could be joined this year, however, MGM sent the C&D letter.

And now MGM has threatened Schaefer with a lawsuit, sending her a cease-and-desist letter over the Rocky 50K Fat Ass Run. “To be honest, I was shocked it hadn’t come sooner,” Schaefer, the run’s organizer, says. She’s changing the name of the Rocky 50K for its second edition on December 6th, a run that’s become much larger than she ever imagined. The soon-to-be-renamed Rocky 50K has no entry fees or actual sign-up list; Schaefer makes no money on the event.

The reason for the C&D this year? Well, MGM is licensing an official Rocky Run put together by a sports corporation that will be taking in money for the event. The end result is that a small, charitable, non-commercial little running group will be forced to give up the name of the event so that an MGM-backed company can come into Philly for the first time to make some money. Lovely. Fans of the original Rocky Run are reportedly unhappy, voicing their displeasure on the corporate-backed run’s Facebook page. Those comments, it appears, are being summarily deleted.

After becoming aware of the Cerulean-run competing Rocky 5K/10K event, some Rocky 50K fans say they had posted complaints to the new Rocky Run’s Facebook page, but that they no longer appear there. The organizers at first responded with a form letter-like comment that explained their event was officially licensed (and, yes, an actual race with road closures and prizes and an entry fee). The Rocky Run’s organizers did not not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Look, MGM isn’t wrong legally, but surely the company could have worked something out with this tiny, little DIY running group so that it could keep raising charitable donations under their original name. I’m fairly certain that 100 folks running thirty miles isn’t a threat to the corporate Rocky Run, so what exactly would the harm be?

Fortunately, Schaefer appears to be taking all of this in stride.

“I can’t be negative about this,” she says. “My mom was like, ‘How cool is it that you did something that got a cease-and-desist?’”

Super cool. Damn the man, save the Rocky Run.

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Companies: mgm

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Comments on “Citizen Organizing Small Get-Together 'Rocky Run' Sent C&D By MGM Because Of Course She Was”

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44 Comments
Richard (profile) says:

Re: MGM isn't wrong legally? Really?

Technically MGM is in the wrong. They were not using the name Rocky in the fun run space. These people got to it first in that space and therefore they have the rights.

If the movie studio was a small independent and the (original) run was being organised by a big multinational then I’m sure that that is the way it would play out.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: MGM isn't wrong legally? Really?

But trademarks only apply within specific business categories. If you have the trademark for “Rocky” in the movie industry, that doesn’t stop me from making, say, an ice cream with the name “Rocky”.

So the question is… did MGM obtain a trademark on “Rocky” in whichever sector that runs fall into?

Anonymous Coward says:

Source?

“The organizers at first responded with a form letter-like comment that explained their event was officially licensed”

This claim needs to be backed up. I hate current patent and copyright law, but making a claim that its “Officially Licensed” if it is not is bullshit.

I, for the first time in my life am on the side of those assclowns in entertainment.

Now for the next step… fix the law and move this shit to the public domain where it should be by now and call it a damn day!

Anonymouse says:

Re: Source?

You missed the inference there.

“After becoming aware of the Cerulean-run competing Rocky 5K/10K event, […] The organizers at first responded with a form letter-like comment that explained their event was officially licensed…”

The new run was claiming to be officially licensed in form-letter like replies to comments to their facebook before going silent.

Your streak is unbroken, you are not on the side of the assclowns this time either.

Devonavar says:

How can this be illegal?

I don’t know much about the series, but there is a Rocky Run in the movie that is set in an actual place? And now the actual place isn’t allowed to hold a run?

So, let me get this straight … a fictitious movie is allowed to appropriate part of reality, but reality isn’t allowed to appropriate it back?

That’s twisted.

Devonavar says:

Under what theory is this illegal?

I’m curious to know under what theory this is illegal?

It can’t be copyright … titles aren’t creative enough to be considered copyright.

So … trademark?

But trademark only applies in commerce. And, the “Rocky” movies are not in the industry of hosting runs, which should mean that the Rocky trademark shouldn’t applies to runs. At least, not until they host an actual run.

So … shouldn’t the charity have rights to the trademark by virtue of the fact that they were there first?

So … not trademark?

Then … what?

How IS the Rocky 50K Fat Ass Run illegal?

Androgynous Cowherd says:

MGM is wrong

Look, MGM isn’t wrong legally

Sure it is. A not-for-profit, charitable run is not a use in commerce under the Lanham Act, and there’s certainly no copyright in the idea of getting a bunch of people together and running a particular route. I’m pretty sure that such a thing is outside the purview of patent law also. The only IPR left then seems to be trade secret law, and since there’s no secret here …

Bob Bushman says:

Remove The Statue

Seems like a simple solution; if MGM doesn’t want Rocky to be a part of the public zeitgeist, remove the statue. Or, more accurately, tell MGM that if they don’t back down, the statue will be removed.

Contact the city council and mayor’s office. Tell them you don’t want public land used to enrich a private corporation that intends to exclude public participation in the cultural record. Tell them that they should make it clear to MGM that a condition of having a tribute to their intellectual property on public land is that the public can incorporate that cutural icon in their events.

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