Supporting Design Theft Probably Isn’t the Best Value to be Instilling in Our Kids

In case you missed it on the way home yesterday, there was a fantastically frustrating story on NPR‘s “All Things Considered.” Or maybe you heard it but were left thinking “Wait…what?!” The tale in question focuses on the Florida’s Lake Mary High School, who had received a cease-and-desist letter from Chrysler telling them to quit using the Dodge Ram logo as their own (the school’s team is also the Rams, see?). Now we’re plenty sympathetic to schools, and plenty unsympathetic to slow moving, nearly destitute car companies, but what really got our blood boiling was hearing the school’s principal not once fess up to outright copyright theft, his read-between-the-lines comments about how his school was in the right and this big mean company was doing this bad thing to the children, and then reading this story in the Orlando Sentinel that “students, parents and sympathizers have been chattering about how Chrysler could have simply let the school use the logo and accepted it as good publicity.” Here’s the NPR story to get you fuming (you’ll notice that they don’t talk to a designer or copyright expert about why this is wrong):

Now we’re not stupid and know that this sort of logo theft is going on all the time, likely at hundreds of high schools across the country, but if you get caught, you just stop using the logo. That goes double if for some strange reason, you get the press’ attention. If that happens, you shut it down even quicker. There’s no fighting the good fight here, because it’s just theft and defending it probably isn’t the best thing to be teaching your children and your students. And the worst thing you can do if you somehow thought it was a wise idea to print this stolen logo on your basketball floor, it to complain that it’s going to cost thousands of dollars to fix the problem you created. No wait, the worst thing is if your school board’s Business Advisory Committee decides to write a letter demanding a $25,000 donation from Chrysler and the rights to continue to use the stolen logo.