from the copyright-as-kryptonite dept
Please see update at the bottom
Superheroes: they’re awesome. While they are often conflicted, they stand for truth and justice, protecting the fictional masses from unseen evils without so much as a paycheck. You know, like Edward Snowden, but with masks and bikini briefs and whatnot. Children, in particular, love superheroes, because they’re still young enough to not yet have had their view of humanity deflated through the experience of living. Still, even for those reading the most tragic of stories, there is an important lesson to be learned: superheroes are awesome, but the people who own them aren’t.
You can’t meet Jeffrey Baldwin of Ottawa, because at five years old he was the victim of his own grandparents, who starved him to death. But if you could meet Jeffrey, he’d probably tell you all about Superman. See, Jeffrey loved the Man of Steel so much that members of his community that had never even met him were moved to provide for a memorial statue in his name, with the Kryptonian “S” on the boy’s chest. Todd Boyce, who had been taken with Jeffrey’s death and the testimony in his trial, tried to do the right thing and contacted DC Comics to get their blessing.
The request to the comic books publisher had been made by Todd Boyce, an Ottawa father who did not know the Baldwin family. Boyce was so moved by the testimony at the coroner’s inquest into Jeffrey’s death last year that he started an online fundraising campaign for the monument.
You already know what comes next, don’t you? DC Comics wrote a polite but still utterly infuriating reply that essentially said, “Nope!” This reply cited a “variety of legal reasons” that likely boils down to copyright and trademark rights. And, from DC’s standpoint, I’m sure they also considered the sudden flood of requests they’d get from people who would also like to have Superman’s logo on their headstones, family crests, and all the rest. But, seriously, we really couldn’t have figured out a way to get a little Superman on Jeffrey’s memorial statue? Superman was created over eighty years ago, but we’re still at a place where we can’t let a child have his hero moment, even in death?
For Boyce, it was a huge blow, as he felt the Superman aspect was a crucial part of the bronze monument, which will include a bench. The coroner’s inquest heard from Jeffrey’s father that his son loved to dress up as Superman.
“I’m sort of empathetic to (DC’s) point of view on this, but I feel very strongly that the image of Jeffrey is so powerful,” said Boyce. “It’s the image of a vulnerable boy dressed up as the most invulnerable character in the universe. So I just feel like there’s something lost if we change it.” Boyce said he understood DC’s stance, in that he felt they didn’t want the Superman character associated with child abuse.
That’s very understanding of Boyce, but what!?!? If DC’s legal reasons for this refusal have anything to do with not wanting the logo to be associated with child abuse, then we have some lawyers on our hands that are serious candidates for lobotomies. This is a child victim we’re talking about, the kind of person the fictional Superman would damn well have stood up for. It’s too bad Superman’s real-life owners don’t share those same convictions.
Update: And… as is often the case following public shamings, DC has now relented and will allow the use of the logo.
Filed Under: child abuse, copyright, dc comics, headstone, jeffrey baldwin, logo, superheroes, superman, tombstone, trademark
Companies: dc comics