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.