Chicago Preacher Tries To Stop Spike Lee From Using 'Chiraq' As Title Of Upcoming Film

from the a-timothy-geigner-joint dept

I wasn't aware of this, but human-Knicks-mascot Spike Lee is reportedly making a film about violence in Chicago. This is annoying for a whole host of reasons, including how insanely relatively low the city's murder count is compared to historical averages. That said, it's not like there isn't a severe violence problem in tiny, tiny pockets of areas here in my home city, so if he wants to make a film about it, fine, go ahead, for all the good it will do. But the film is also reportedly going to feature the term "Chiraq", a silly comparison between the homicide counts in Chicago versus the death toll in Iraq, because that's apparently a valid comparison. Annoying as the term is, however, it's more annoying to see some money-grubbing preacher from Chicago try to force Spike to alter the title, claiming ownership of the word and spouting off all kinds of easily refutable nonsense about its origins.

Emmett Benjamin, who filed trademarks for "Chiraq" in Illinois within the last two months, said that when he heard about the film a few months ago, he thought it could threaten the work he has been doing as part of his temple in Oak Park, the House of Christ Temple Divine.

"We had been working on this for almost an entire year ... and realizing (the term) Chi-raqi will be put in danger," Benjamin said. "We put over $100 into marketing last year to try to spread awareness, and I hate to say it, but Spike Lee's project would seem to be a result of our hard work in marketing."
Emmett is burying the lede here, because if he and his church are able to turn $100 worth of marketing into terminology adoption by one of the most famous movie directors of our time, well, Emmett should get out of the god business and start himself a marketing firm. Now, I'll emphasize from that quote that Benjamin has "filed" for trademarks, not successfully registered any regarding "Chiraq." That said, his church does indeed produce films to raise awareness of what he calls "Chiraqi - a nation of persecuted black people." So, does he have a common law claim to the word?

Nope.
One legal expert doubted Benjamin's chances for securing rights to Chiraq. Jonathan Masur, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, said that Benjamin could receive a legitimate trademark only if he were the first person to use the world commercially.

"The word comes from rap and hip-hop, people who have been using the words," Masur said. "I am dubious that this person is the first person to use the word."
Almost certainly not. As best as I can find, the term "Chiraq" has been used since at least 2012 and almost certainly earlier. 2012 was when someone posted a definition in Urban Dictionary. The term has been quite prominent in music, media, and film circles ever since. And Benjamin doesn't even pretend to have coined the phrase himself.
Benjamin, who uses the terms Chiraq and Chiraqi interchangeably, also wants to make sure that the low-income "people of color" in Chicago, who coined the term, receive proceeds from the film.

"The term was originally coined by young men and women in the streets of Chicago living in the battle zone with the police and sometimes other gangs and other people," Benjamin said. "The name belongs to the people of Chicago. We are merely protecting it and holding it for them."
Yeah, that isn't actually how trademark works, my friend. Like, at all. Collective city ownership of a term, such that a preacher purporting to represent them might extract money from a filmmaker and control the title of his films, is a concept not found in the law, or really anywhere outside of said preacher's head. On top of that, he'd likely have to convince a court that his films would be confused with Spike Lee's, a claim he hasn't made because it would take a level of hubris I believe is attainable only by FIFA executives. And even if he wanted to make that case, Spike Lee is using the term in a film to comment on violence in Chicago, meaning he could likely simply shout "First Amendment!" and dance out of the courtroom to go continue making his film.

Sorry, sir, but "Chiraq: This Time It's Personal, A Spike Lee Joint" will be made, and there's nothing you and I can do about it.


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jun 2015 @ 2:59pm

    While you put out this DRIVEL: "Google Chrome Listening In To Your Room"

    https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/blog/2015/06/google-chrome-listening-in-to-your-room-shows-the -importance-of-privacy-defense-in-depth/

    Rick Falkvinge writes:
    "Yesterday, news broke that Google has been stealth downloading audio listeners onto every computer that runs Chrome, and transmits audio data back to Google. Effectively, this means that Google had taken itself the right to listen to every conversation in every room that runs Chrome somewhere, without any kind of consent from the people eavesdropped on. In official statements, Google shrugged off the practice with what amounts to “we can do that”."


    THIS is why you're a negative value, Techdirt. YOUR PRECIOUS GOOGLE IS NOW GOING LIVE AS THE 1984 TELESCREEN SYSTEM WITHOUT NOTICE OR PERMISSION.

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

    • icon
      S. T. Stone (profile), 19 Jun 2015 @ 3:21pm

      Re: While you put out this DRIVEL: "Google Chrome Listening In To Your Room"

      Contain the calamity that is your mammaries.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Jun 2015 @ 6:04am

      Re: While you put out this DRIVEL: "Google Chrome Listening In To Your Room"

      It's entirely the wrong place for the op to be posting, I think this should be seen as a big deal.

      To disable goto chrome://settings/
      Show Advanced Settings
      Privacy > Content Settings
      Media > Do not allow sites to access your camera and microphone.

      Also change your Adobe Flash Player settings
      http://www.macromedia.com/support/documentation/en/flashplayer/help/settings_manager02.html

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 21 Jun 2015 @ 11:55pm

        Re: Re: While you put out this DRIVEL: "Google Chrome Listening In To Your Room"

        Take proactive measures to protect yourself online? Never!

        This might be a different guy, but at least of these trolls has whined obsessively about Google tracking him before - and then admitted he uses Chrome and didn't want to switch. You really couldn't invent anyone less able to make a coherent argument.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 21 Jun 2015 @ 11:54pm

      Re: While you put out this DRIVEL: "Google Chrome Listening In To Your Room"

      Ah, tactic #3 from idiot playbook - if you can't defend the actions described in the article, try to derail the discussion elsewhere. On the first comment in the thread, no less. Always a good way of admitting you have nothing.

      "Rick Falkvinge writes"

      Wait, don't you attack this guy every chance you get whenever the subjects of The Pirate Bay and Pirate Party are mentioned, or was that a different anonymous moron? But now, his word is gospel because he's attacking Google? Got it.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jun 2015 @ 3:28pm

    Apparently Google is also downloading psychotropic medication into the computers of its enemies, causing them to become delusional.

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

  • icon
    CharlesGrossman (profile), 19 Jun 2015 @ 3:55pm

    Remember Spike Lee vs. Spike TV

    It's ironic to see Spike Lee challenged by a ridiculous trademark controversy, considering that he sued Spike TV when they started up because he apparently thinks he is the only Spike in the entertainment industry.

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

  • icon
    OldMugwump (profile), 19 Jun 2015 @ 4:10pm

    France?

    I'm confused.

    What does Chicago have to do with the former President of France?

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

  • identicon
    PRMan, 19 Jun 2015 @ 4:15pm

    Trademark

    Um, does anyone understand that Trademark law has areas of business? Trademarking in one area has no affect on a trademark in another.

    Religious use and Movie use are almost certainly not the same category.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Jun 2015 @ 2:22am

      Re: Trademark

      Except they both solely exist to fleece the gullible from their money...one with popcorn + soda and the other with magic healing + tasteless wafers...

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

  • identicon
    That One Other Not So Random Guy, 19 Jun 2015 @ 4:33pm

    "That said, it's not like there isn't a severe violence problem in tiny, tiny pockets of areas here in my home city, so if he wants to make a film about it, fine, go ahead, for all the good it will do."

    http://heyjackass.com/category/2015-chicago-crime-murder-stats/

    http://crime.chicagotribune.com/c hicago/homicides

    http://homicides.suntimes.com/homicides/map/2015/

    The 2015 numbers show it is all over, not in "tiny, tiny, pockets."

    Why is Tim such an angry man? All this guy wants to do is help and Timmah hates on him. Did you hear that Spike Lee was a Truther or something? LOL.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Jun 2015 @ 5:02pm

      Re:

      The vast, vast majority of murders in Chicago happen in sections of the south and west sides. The North Side is simply different. I don't live in a rich neighborhood and there hasn't been a murder in my square mile since 2007.

      And Spike is filming this joke of a movie in hipster neighborhoods like Bucktown and Wicker Park. WTF

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Jun 2015 @ 5:47pm

        Re: Re:

        The whole 'Chicago is more dangerous than Iraq/Afghanistan' meme falls apart when you look at the per capita statistics. Volence is horrible no matter where you are but this particular meme is just for shock value.

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

  • identicon
    Shenanigans, 21 Jun 2015 @ 7:35am

    You are off the mark...

    It is not restricted to "tiny tiny pockets", and the Chicago police are encouraged to "reclassify" anything they can.


    http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/May-2014/Chicago-crime-rates/

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2015 @ 9:31am

    "because it would take a level of hubris I believe is attainable only by FIFA executives."

    Did you forget about.the NFL and the IOC?

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

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 21 Jun 2015 @ 11:48pm

    "Sorry, sir, but "Chiraq: This Time It's Personal, A Spike Lee Joint" will be made, and there's nothing you and I can do about it."

    From the director of Crooklyn, no less. But, I don't recall any controversy over the name of that film, nor Brooklyn officials whining about it. Am I forgetting something, or is this how obsessive people have become about "owning" names?

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

  • icon
    Sheogorath (profile), 25 Jun 2015 @ 7:55pm

    Hey, Emmet Benjamin. I do believe that former President Chiraq has a trademark claim that trumps yours. Better luck next time! ;)

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


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