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Library of Congress Threatens Washington Watch Wiki

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the trademark-madness dept.

United States 125

BackRow writes "Washington Watch, a site devoted to tracking the cost of federal legislation, has raised the hackles of the Library of Congress with a new wiki that makes an unfavorable comparison to the LOC's THOMAS legislative search engine. After Jim Harper, Washington Watch's creator and the director of information policy at the Cato Institute, announced the wiki, he received a nastygram from the LOC." Quoting: "After the announcement, he was contacted by Matt Raymond, the Director of Communications at the Library (and the author of the Library of Congress' blog). Raymond said that he possessed 'statutory and regulatory authority governing unauthorized use of the Library's name and logo and those of Library subunits and programs,' and he asked that Harper stop using the names 'Library of Congress' and 'THOMAS' in his marketing materials."

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125 comments

Obvious Solution (4, Funny)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029059)

Call it the Library of Progress, and refer to JEFFERSON.

Re:Obvious Solution (1)

Lithdren (605362) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029099)

Library of !=(Pro) + gress

That would make a great T-shirt! (tm)

Which Jefferson? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19029191)

Call it the Library of Progress, and refer to JEFFERSON

Which one - George or Weezy ? [wikipedia.org]

Re:Obvious Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19029391)

Library of Progress

How many Libraries of Congress is that?

Re:Obvious Solution (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029885)

i of them.

Re:Obvious Solution (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032379)

e^(-pi * LibrariesOfCongress) + 1 = 0
Finally it makes sense...

Re:Obvious Solution (2, Informative)

philpalm (952191) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029571)

Quote from article:
"I contacted Raymond about the issue, and he tells Ars that he was acting under Library of Congress Regulation 112, which says that "the use of the Library's name, explicitly or implicitly to endorse a product or service, or materials in any publication is prohibited, except as provided for in this Regulation." For Raymond, the issue here is that Harper was critical of the Library's own work in a way which endorsed his own; as Raymond puts it, "the use of THOMAS in the Washington Watch press release in a negative way is clearly used in the context of endorsement, rather than general criticism."

Raymond claims that he has no intention of trying to silence critics, and points out that the Library's blog has opened itself to reader comments, critical or otherwise. His concern, rather, is "in the context of marketing and endorsement."
My comment:
It is not an obvious solution, Washington Watch wants to take it to court to determine the validity of the Law. Raymond the bureaucrat wants to be protecting himself (his job entails enforcing rules made by Congress) and the LOC in emphasizing that there is a law not permitting the use of the LOC in any marketing scheme.

Now if Washington Watch is a non-profit organization then I guess there would be no marketing scheme....

Re:Obvious Solution (1)

metrometro (1092237) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029607)

Now if Washington Watch is a non-profit organization then I guess there would be no marketing scheme....
Not quite. Nonprofit is just a tax status - they play by the same rules as business on just about everything else.

In my opinion... (3, Interesting)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029793)

Whoever originally coined the word Con-gress ... should be modded the most insightful and prescient individual in history.

Cato Institute? Eh, whatever. (3, Funny)

metrometro (1092237) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029097)

"Director of information policy at the Cato Institute..." Oh, I'm sorry, am I supposed to continue giving a shit after that?

Re:Cato Institute? Eh, whatever. (0, Redundant)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029169)

"Director of information policy at the Cato Institute..." Oh, I'm sorry, am I supposed to continue giving a shit after that?

No.

Re:Cato Institute? Eh, whatever. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19029197)

Cato Institute

I'd compare some of the people at the Cato Institute to dogs. Good, mean, grizzly guard dogs. They do a great job of chasing down some of the bullshit in government, sinking their teeth into it, and ripping it apart.

But we shouldn't put dogs in charge of the government.

Re:Cato Institute? Eh, whatever. (2, Informative)

metrometro (1092237) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029247)

Chew on the government, fine. But when they spend decades cranking out coal-funded "science" written by PR flacks, it's more like dingo-ate-my-baby than a watchdog.

Re:Cato Institute? Eh, whatever. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19029295)

It must be nice to live in a world where you can just systematically disregard the positions of someone else because you've already decided they're wrong because of who they are.

Re:Cato Institute? Eh, whatever. (4, Insightful)

metrometro (1092237) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029373)

Oh boy. For what it's worth, I work for a D.C. government watchdog and am very familiar with Cato. I read their books, I go to their events. Their office is sweet - lots of windows, big atrium. Bottom line is their science positions are intellectually dishonest at a comprehensive level, and that keeps them well funded by industry. So yeah, I distrust the information they put out, because they have shown they are willing to place and promote false information that directly benefits their funders.

Re:Cato Institute? Eh, whatever. (0)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 7 years ago | (#19030293)

Wow. Right at the heart of it: pot, kettle, black. Tell us which advocacy group you work with in opposition to Cato's position. Cato dudes probably come and hang out in your building as well.

There are a lot of people whose 'science positions' are intellectually dishonest, and that keeps them well funded in the politics industry. Al Gore is a shining example. Real scientists have to hold their nose when they engage in any activity with Gore as an ally.

Re:Cato Institute? Eh, whatever. (4, Informative)

tourvil (103765) | more than 7 years ago | (#19034319)

Oh boy. For what it's worth, I work for a D.C. government watchdog and am very familiar with Cato. I read their books, I go to their events. Their office is sweet - lots of windows, big atrium. Bottom line is their science positions are intellectually dishonest at a comprehensive level, and that keeps them well funded by industry. So yeah, I distrust the information they put out, because they have shown they are willing to place and promote false information that directly benefits their funders.

It would be worth a lot more if you cited some examples and/or sources. I know very little about Cato, so I have no reason to give their studies more or less weight than others. But your post, which is currently modded 5 Insightful, gives me no information on why I should distrust their information.

Re:Cato Institute? Eh, whatever. (5, Interesting)

binarybits (11068) | more than 7 years ago | (#19034861)

I would be curious to know which industry sources funded my paper criticizing the DMCA. [cato.org] Or for that matter, their recent papers criticizing the Bush administration's civil liberties record [cato.org] and the NSA's wiretapping program. [cato.org]

It's also interesting that you don't cite any "false information." Are we supposed to just take your word for it that a lot of what we put out is false?

Re:Cato Institute? Eh, whatever. (1)

Azghoul (25786) | more than 7 years ago | (#19035911)

Nice reply. Keep up the good work.

Re:Cato Institute? Eh, whatever. (4, Insightful)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029397)

It's called a track record. Ignoring it is called insanity.

If Nothing Else, Princpled. (4, Informative)

Shihar (153932) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029465)

You can accuse Cato of a lot of things... lacking principles and being anyone's lap dog is roughly the last. Brooking's, American Heritage, and lots of other think tanks can be 'flexible' in what they advocate based upon the party flavor of the month. Cato is unbending, rock solid, and deeply principled. Now, you can argue that their principles are abhorrent, but anyone who knows anything about Cato can not say that their principles are bent by who gives them money. They are Libertarians who are as happy to criticize business, Democrats, Republics, and anyone else who violates their principles (and all three do, regularly).

Re:If Nothing Else, Princpled. (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029833)

You can accuse Cato of a lot of things... lacking principles and being anyone's lap dog is roughly the last.
Being principled means two things - being consistent in the causes you advocate for and being consistent in the causes you do not advocate. Cato is pretty consistent in the first case, but the causes they choose to advocate for seem to be driven by their sponsors, perhaps leaving behind other causes that are not so beneficial for their sponsors, but may be more idealogically important to their principles.

Sure, the line has to be drawn somewhere, resources are not infinite. But that doesn't mean the line is drawn without an agenda.

Re:If Nothing Else, Princpled. (2, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032049)

Being principled means two things - being consistent in the causes you advocate for and being consistent in the causes you do not advocate. Cato is pretty consistent in the first case, but the causes they choose to advocate for seem to be driven by their sponsors, perhaps leaving behind other causes that are not so beneficial for their sponsors, but may be more idealogically important to their principles.
So when I find some organization that believes in much of the same stuff I do and I then donate or do something to support that organization, It makes anything they do suspect because of my funding?

I mean seriously, we aren't talking about the chicken and egg concept here, we are bypassing it with you logic and going straight to connecting dotted line without paying attention to the numbers to paint whatever picture we want. Here is the scoop. I I run a business and someone is saying things benificial to my business, If it support them, I benefit. It doesn't not mean I tell them what to say.

The same can be said for politics in general. There was a lot of hubub going on about Charlie Tree (not sure on spelling and don't care enough to check) the chinese embassy worker who showed up to the white house with bags of cash called campaign contributions at the same times China was stealing nuclear secrets from the US the some claim led to their Nuclear arms program being successful. Nobody has convincingly made the case Clinton was selling secrets for campaign contributions. Similarly, Al Qeada has came out in support of some democrat leaders and their policies. This doesn't mean they are connected. Although there is enough other evidence that some kook could make a small case for that.

Whenever I see someone discount something specifically because of funding when they organization survives on donations, I see it as that person looking for a reason to be in denial. It s just that simple.

Re:If Nothing Else, Princpled. (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032397)

So when I find some organization that believes in much of the same stuff I do and I then donate or do something to support that organization, It makes anything they do suspect because of my funding?

It does when your funding is directed at a specific project in that organization. It means you expect the results of that specific project to be particularlly beneficial to you specifically. Especially if that specific project would not have been undertaken without your funding.

Whenever I see someone discount something specifically because of funding when they organization survives on donations, I see it as that person looking for a reason to be in denial. It s just that simple.

And here's my counter-strawman -- whenever I see someone discount the source of funding as a source of bias, I see it as that person as being in denial. It's just that simple.

Re:If Nothing Else, Princpled. (1)

cultrhetor (961872) | more than 7 years ago | (#19030083)

"I mistrust all systematizers and avoid them. The will to a system is a lack of integrity." - Nietzsche, Götzen-Dämmerung (1889)

Re:Cato Institute? Eh, whatever. (2, Insightful)

qbzzt (11136) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029329)

"Director of information policy at the Cato Institute..." Oh, I'm sorry, am I supposed to continue giving a shit after that?

Not if you believe that rights only belong to people who happen to agree with you.

Re:Cato Institute? Eh, whatever. (1, Offtopic)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029427)

A "free market in the field of government" rarely lasts, and only once that I can think of(maybe twice) has it lead to the second government not being a thousand times worse than the previous.

Re:Cato Institute? Eh, whatever. (1)

qbzzt (11136) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029449)

"A free market in the field of government" means that if a government is bad you have the option to abandon it, and the country it runs, and find a better place to live.

Re:Cato Institute? Eh, whatever. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19029691)

>> "A free market in the field of government" means that if a government is bad you have the option to abandon it, and the country it runs, and find a better place to live.

Um, no.

It's my country. *I have a right to change it.* "Love it or leave it" is just more facist crap. Stop trying to strip me of my constitutional rights.

Re:Cato Institute? Eh, whatever. (1)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029987)

It's my country. *I have a right to change it.* "Love it or leave it" is just more facist crap. Stop trying to strip me of my constitutional rights.

He didn't say you had to leave. But he's got just as much right to fight your wrongheaded bullshit as you have to spew it.

Re:Cato Institute? Eh, whatever. (1, Offtopic)

qbzzt (11136) | more than 7 years ago | (#19030431)

It's my country. *I have a right to change it.*

You have the right to try. You may or may not succeed.

"Love it or leave it" is just more facist crap. Stop trying to strip me of my constitutional rights.

I didn't realize I was doing that. I didn't write this .sig as a reply to you. I wrote it in 1998, as I was leaving Israel to build my life in the US. I hated conscription (I consider it a form of slavery), so I moved to a country where the government isn't as likely to vote my children into uniforms. Since then, I haven't seen anything that changed my mind (US citizen as of two weeks ago).

I wrote it as a way to tell people that if they don't like something their government does, and they don't think they have a snowball's chance in hell of changing it, they can still make a difference in their lives by finding a better package deal from another government. I apologize if you think that pointing out you have a right to leave the country strips you of any of your constitutional rights.

Love it or leave it. (1, Offtopic)

hotsauce (514237) | more than 7 years ago | (#19030953)

1. "Love it or leave it" nowhere suggests he should try to change it before giving up. You're missing an important step.

2. He may not be free to leave it. Some countries do not allow you to leave without authorization, and most do not let you enter and settle down without authorization.

3. Leaving nation by nation for the corporatocracy to overrun will result in a domino effect. "When they came for me, there was no one left to stand up for me..." and all that stuff.

Re:Cato Institute? Eh, whatever. (1)

zCyl (14362) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032611)

I wrote it as a way to tell people that if they don't like something their government does, and they don't think they have a snowball's chance in hell of changing it, they can still make a difference in their lives by finding a better package deal from another government.

If you leave all of the nations that have problems you can't fix, you will very quickly get tired of swimming.

Re:Cato Institute? Eh, whatever. (1)

lessthan (977374) | more than 7 years ago | (#19033189)

No, not swimming! Look up! Thousands of worlds await our mistakes. LOL

Re:Cato Institute? Eh, whatever. (1)

metrometro (1092237) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029447)

This ain't about rights. Cato will be competently defended by their legion of industry-funded lawyers. It's a silly suit, and it will fail. But it's marketing gold for Cato, which may well have hoped for exactly this reaction.

Re:Cato Institute? Eh, whatever. (1)

binarybits (11068) | more than 7 years ago | (#19034927)

If you check out Cato's 2005 annual report, you'll find [cato.org] that Cato only received about 2 percent of their budget. We don't have a legion of lawyers, corporate-funded or otherwise.

Re:Cato Institute? Eh, whatever. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19029817)

Not if you believe that rights only belong to people who happen to agree with you.
Well then I guess that makes him a card-carrying ACLU member!

Re:Cato Institute? Eh, whatever. (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029723)

"Director of information policy at the Cato Institute..." Oh, I'm sorry, am I supposed to continue giving a shit after that?

Of course. Why else did you bring that Cato report to the restroom if you weren't going to take a nice dump and wipe your ass with it?

Cato Publications (4, Informative)

binarybits (11068) | more than 7 years ago | (#19035157)

I'm a longtime Slashdot reader and an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute. I'm not sure why you're so hostile to the Cato Institute, but you might want to check out a few of our recent publications:



Obviously, you're not going to agree with everything we publish, but you'd be hard-pressed to find another think tank that's done as much work on the issues near and dear to the hearts of Slashdotters.

Ironic, no? (5, Insightful)

JohnnyBGod (1088549) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029111)

Does anyone else find it ironic that a library, of all organizations, is (supposedly) exercising its IP rights?

Re:Ironic, no? (1)

Romancer (19668) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029161)

Especially the library of congress!!

Now talking about the repository of information for the United States is forbidden?!?!!

Re:Ironic, no? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19029245)

No. A supportable reason for the existence of trademarks is to let consumers know the true source of a good. In this case, the good is information. Cato should not be trying to mislead the public about what search engine they are using by misappropriating the IP of the United States Library of Congress. Yes, the THOMAS legislative search engine sucks (or it did last time I used it). But that does not mean some private company should be able to come along and mislead the public into thinking their search engine is the official one. This whole announcement reeks of a publicity stunt, since Cato should not be doing what it has in the first place and certainly not complaining loudly when they are called on their misdeeds. For shame, Cato.

Re:Ironic, no? (4, Insightful)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029439)

The offending bit was.
"WashingtonWatch.com provides a more user-friendly and interactive way for the public to learn about legislation than the Library of Congress' THOMAS site. It's all about government transparency."

Sorry, but its still legal to say that Nike provides a better running experience than Reebok (assuming its true).

The Library has no trademark ground to stand on, BUT they have extra Federal Statute protecting their name. When did it stop becoming a government "of the people"??

Re:Ironic, no? (1)

geobeck (924637) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029649)

When did it stop becoming a government "of the people"??

About 1779?

Re:Ironic, no? (1)

profplump (309017) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029671)

Actually it's legal to say it period, because it's completely subjective unless you provide an objective definition for "running experience".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puffery [wikipedia.org]

Re:Ironic, no? (1)

*weasel (174362) | more than 7 years ago | (#19034931)

When did it stop becoming a government "of the people"??

Somewhere between career politicians and the two-party system.

Re:Ironic, no? (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 7 years ago | (#19031605)

The WashingtonWatch site does not purport to be "official". It refers to the Library of Congress site only by way of comparison. Here's a hint: when you compare A with B, that implies that A and B are different. Such comparison is not a "use of the trademark for endorsement". They don't even need a court ruling on this. This is well settled law. So long as there are no false claims of fact, Toyota is free to advertise that their vehicles are better than Ford's. Mentioning the competitor's trademark in this way is quite legal. WashingtonWatch should just tell the LOC to go jump in a lake. If the LOC wants to procede, they'll have to involve their lawyers, who will rapidly disabuse them of the idea.

Re:Ironic, no? (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 7 years ago | (#19031647)

Matt Raymond, the LOC Communications Director who made the complaint, is not a lawyer and therefore probably has no understanding of trademark law. According tot the bio [loc.gov] on his blog, he has a background in journalism, with most of his career in "communication"/public relations.

Re:Ironic, no? (1)

darjen (879890) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029627)

Does anyone else find it ironic that a library, of all organizations, is (supposedly) exercising its IP rights?


I don't find it at all ironic that a government institution is striving to control any possible information that it can about itself. Especially that it will threaten the use of force in order to do so.

Library of congress to be changed to read (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19029113)

Library of Parliament of Whores.

ask (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19029121)

Maybe he should have asked permission beforehand?

By the way, I'm starting up a website that will feature material from CNN, all Disney movies, and as many of your home videos as I can get my hands on. Its called www.mcdonalds-hamburgers.com. I'll submit a slashdot article when They censor me and we can all boo-hoo about it.

The LOC is wrong (4, Insightful)

HaeMaker (221642) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029131)

The LOC is wrong. Making a comparative in an endorsement is protected speech, and goes beyond trademark protection.

If he had said, "The LOC, and their THOMAS service, fully back the use of Washington Watch." that is misuse of trademark in the context of an endorsement.

To say a service is like another service only better, fully protected.

IANAL/JM2c.

Re:The LOC is wrong (1)

fatduck (961824) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029227)

Mod parent up. This isn't about stealing copyrighted material as all the other knee-jerk responses would have you believe - it's about using a trademark in an advertisement. Owning a trademark doesn't mean you control every utterance of a word.

"Trademark dilution" lets owner of a "famous" mark stop any use that blurs or tarnishes its distinctiveness -- even if there is no chance that consumers will be confused. Because the concept of dilution has such potentially broad reach, there are specific defenses in the federal Lanham Act that are applicable to claims of dilution. "All forms of news reporting and news commentary" are exempted, as are comparative advertising, and "noncommercial use".

Re:The LOC is wrong (1)

LordMyren (15499) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029543)

any use of a LOC logotype or emblem however would not be protected, as they can qualify as trademarks.

the more you know?

Re:The LOC is wrong (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#19030233)

any use of a LOC logotype or emblem however would not be protected, as they can qualify as trademarks.

Possibly, although I think the Lanham Act would still let you get away with it in the context of comparative advertising; even if you can't, it's not germane to this conflict anyway -- Cato wasn't using the LoC logo or emblem, they were just using the names in otherwise-generic text.

I think this guy at the LoC is in over his head; he should have called Legal before he hauled off and started sending out nasty emails. The Cato people love to pursue stuff like this, since it just fits into their image of the USG as a bunch of corrupt, wasteful, generally inept bureaucrats.

I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up costing that asshole his job, or at least his promotability.

Re:The LOC is wrong (2, Funny)

Brickwall (985910) | more than 7 years ago | (#19030325)

since it just fits into their image of the USG as a bunch of corrupt, wasteful, generally inept bureaucrats.

Er, just exactly how does this image conflict with reality?

Re:The LOC is wrong (1)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 7 years ago | (#19030357)

any use of a LOC logotype or emblem however would not be protected, as they can qualify as trademarks.

Not unless the LOC can provide evidence of a long history of concerted protection of said 'trademark.' IOW an entity can't just up and say 'it's now a registered trademark' if they haven't protected it in the past.

LOC Needs Thicker Skin (3, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029141)

"the use of THOMAS in the Washington Watch press release in a negative way is clearly used in the context of endorsement, rather than general criticism."
Used in a negative way is an endorsement? Maybe Raymond should read a few of those books in his library.

Re:LOC Needs Thicker Skin (1)

Apraxhren (964852) | more than 7 years ago | (#19030107)

Apparently reading does not mean comprehension so I can't suggest the same to you. The endorsement is not of THOMAS, but of Washington Watch. In that endorsement THOMAS is used in a negative way, but this should all be clear as the part of the sentence you left off says:

For Raymond, the issue here is that Harper was critical of the Library's own work in a way which endorsed his own; as Raymond puts it, ...[your quote]
sigh

You need to learn to read English. (1)

wiredog (43288) | more than 7 years ago | (#19034663)

Endorsement of Washington Watch, not the LOC.

What's the real reason for the nastygram? (4, Interesting)

panaceaa (205396) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029149)

Did Matt Raymond sent the nastygram to Washington Watch because the Library of Congress is part of the legislative branch, and Washington Watch can be perceived as critical of the corruption in Congress? Or did someone on the THOMAS team get personally insulted that someone could develop a better system than theirs, and push to punish the creator of the superior system out of jealousy? The latter seems a bit extreme, which leads me to believe Congressmen are scared of people knowing how much the government is actually spending on pork projects that they're even willing to have the Library of Congress send threatening letters to people who share the Library's vision for open information.

I want a letter! (1)

wizzard2k (979669) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029151)

Marketing Materials:
  • Library of Congress
  • THOMAS


...waits for his letter.....

On a more serious note, I don't think marketing materials are covered under fair use, are they?

Re:I want a letter! (2, Interesting)

Romancer (19668) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029193)

You can say any comparison you want in your marketing materials, just so long as you have the fine print at the bottom saying that their logis if used are the property of their respective owners.

Re:I want a letter! (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029241)

The library of congress is not a private organization. Anything it owns is public property, including its logo. I'm pretty sure it will be discovered that the only time this guy really has the right to stop a citizen is if that citizen is using the name and/or logo in a fraudulent manner. For instance, a false claim that the LOC endorses his product.

Re:I want a letter! (2, Insightful)

Romancer (19668) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029547)

I'm not sure it works that way. Just because something is not a private organization, doesn't mean that it has no rights to restrict its brand or logo. Public property is sticky that way. Like the ways public land is used is restricted by the operators and can have restrictions like "no motorbikes" and "no 2 stroke engines in watercraft" The use of the public property is limited.

In this case I think you're right about the way he used it but I don't think it's a blanket law that allows the use of govt resources or brands or logos as public property in the way you may have meant (as in completely free use). It's more likely the same rights anyone has to use a corporate name, brand, or logo. They can't restrict discussion or reference.

Re:I want a letter! (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 7 years ago | (#19030491)

From TFA,

'I contacted Raymond about the issue, and he tells Ars that he was acting under Library of Congress Regulation 112, which says that "the use of the Library's name, explicitly or implicitly to endorse a product or service, or materials in any publication is prohibited, except as provided for in this Regulation."'

Reading the rest of the article explains that this guy is claiming that a comparison WAS an endorsement. This regulation is intended to assure that nobody can fraudulently claim the LOC endorses their product. This guy is criticizing their project, not claiming the LOC endorses his project.

Private entities can usually sue you if you publicly criticize them in a way that causes a measurable negative impact. Public entities can not. Public entities are held to a different standard because freedom of speech requires that citizens be able to publicly criticize the government.

The LOC has determined that preventing people from fraudulently claiming the LOC endorses them to be neccesary to carry out its charter. Therefore, it gave itself permission to stop people.

Triple H-1B's Next Year (-1, Offtopic)

rlp (11898) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029157)

Slightly OT: In Senate bill 1092 [thomas.gov] , Sen. Chuck Hagel wants to triple the number of H-1B's granted next year to 'help' the high-tech industry.

Re:Triple H-1B's Next Year (1)

rlp (11898) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029177)

Sorry, very OT - meant to post under the 'IBM layoff' rumor.

Twofo Goatse Twofo Goats (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19029171)

http://goatse.ch [goatse.ch] [twofo.co.uk] [goatse.ch]

70U dail i4

What's in a name... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029237)

Why fight it? Rename it "nook of crooks" and still everyone's gonna know what's meant.

I pay may taxes. (4, Insightful)

EaglemanBSA (950534) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029239)

How soon before we're not allowed to make derogatory remarks about Congress itself, or the president? I was under the impression that the government and everything it owns, collectively, belong to the American People, but apparently I'm wrong.

Re:I pay may taxes. (1)

adona1 (1078711) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029343)

I was under the impression that the government and everything it owns, collectively, belong to the American People

Where do you think you are, Soviet Russia? :)

Re:I pay may taxes. (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#19030513)

In Soviet Russia, politburo owns you?

Re:I pay may taxes. (-1, Troll)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029479)

How soon before we're not allowed to make derogatory remarks about Congress itself, or the president? I was under the impression that the government and everything it owns, collectively, belong to the American People, but apparently I'm wrong.

You are wrong. That was changed years ago under the guise of National Security. You already cannot safely make derogatory remarks about our "elected" officials without being tormented by their minions.

Re:I pay may taxes. (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032041)

I extended a similar offer once before: you are welcome to come to Lafayette Park next to the White House to watch me scream out that Bush is an asshole and he should be impeached.

You pick the time.

Re:I pay may taxes. (1)

YodaYid (1049908) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029527)

I felt the same way when New York's MTA copyrighted the subway map [isubwaymaps.com] (Here's Jeff Jarvis [buzzmachine.com] on the issue).

Re:I pay may taxes. (1)

belg4mit (152620) | more than 7 years ago | (#19030615)

Trademark and copyright are hardly the same thing. You could go and make your own
conception of an MTA map and you would be well within your rights. Now, whether or
not state and municipal agencies *ought* to restrict access and reuse of goods
produced in the public interest is another matter.

Re:I pay may taxes. (1)

YodaYid (1049908) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032453)

I was referring to the *ought* part ;-) Governments ought not be allowed to put any intellectual property restrictions (trademarks, copyright, etc) on publicly-funded work. The only valid restrictions would be fraud-related (e.g. putting up a website that pretends to be the LOC, printing counterfeit money, or impersonating a police officer).

you misunderstand (2, Funny)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 7 years ago | (#19030171)

as long as your right to criticize the King of Thailand is unfettered, you live in a free country.

Re:I pay may taxes. (2, Interesting)

exi1ed0ne (647852) | more than 7 years ago | (#19030211)

I was under the impression that the government and everything it owns, collectively, belong to the American People, but apparently I'm wrong.

I believe you have that backwards unfortunately. Anything that can be construed as a financial instrument is subject to seizure under the Trading With the Enemy Act and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. The laws are already there on the books to take all your stuff, as was done with gold in 1933.

Or in slash-speak: a beowulf cluster of laws own all u base, it runs windows vista ultimate cluster edition, and that's Condoleezza under the hot grits.

Re:I pay may taxes. (1, Funny)

PsychoSlashDot (207849) | more than 7 years ago | (#19031051)

Quiz: True or False -- On a scale of 1 to 10, what is your middle name?

False. On a scale of 1 to 10, what is not my middle name.

It's hell... (3, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029315)

...having to compete.

And so much easier to send a C&D than to actually compete.

Remember The Onion Presedintial Seal Fiasco (1)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029499)

Nothing new here folks, remeber the same sort of thing with The Onion [google.com] using the Presidential Seal?

LOC maybe, THOMAS, no (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029557)

The PR flak at the LOC quoted:

Library of Congress Regulation 112, which says that "the use of the Library's name, explicitly or implicitly to endorse a product or service, or materials in any publication is prohibited, except as provided for in this Regulation."
This regulation may restrict the use of the term "Library of Commerce", but it doesn't appear to limit the use of such terms as "THOMAS".

Re:LOC maybe, THOMAS, no (1)

philpalm (952191) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029615)

So Will LOC go after Thomas the train engine too?

Re:LOC maybe, THOMAS, no (1)

Ajehals (947354) | more than 7 years ago | (#19030347)

Tank Engine, its Thomas the Tank Engine. Oh and I wish that they would change the song back to the original one, the new one drives me nuts...

Re:LOC maybe, THOMAS, no (1)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032117)

This regulation may restrict the use of the term "Library of Commerce", but it doesn't appear to limit the use of such terms as "THOMAS".
Agreed. For the record, it appears that LOC regulation 11 is codified as 36CFR701.35, and appears to be receivable via this URI: http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/22jul20061 500/edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_2006/julqtr/36cfr70 1.5.htm [akamaitech.net]

Your humble servant... (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029599)

Is there anyone here that knows when Civil Servants stopped signing their letters that way?

Re:Your humble servant... (1)

mmdog (34909) | more than 7 years ago | (#19030677)

Just guessing here, but I'd say it has something to do with people not understanding what the word "servant" means. Unfortunately most government employees treat their job as an entitlement, as opposed to an opportunity to 'serve' their country.

Don't mess with the library, man... (0, Redundant)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029633)

They'll give you an overdue notice and then you won't be able to wait for a homeless person to stop looking at porn so you can check you're e-mail.

I don't know which I dislike more... (0, Flamebait)

nanosquid (1074949) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029647)

The LOC response was heavy-handed and unjustified. But the "Washington Watch" site is typical over-simplifying libertarian rhetoric: you cannot account for the cost of legislation in that way.

So, I don't know which to dislike more: LOC government arrogance, or libertarian populist oversimplification.

The LOC statute is irrelevant. (5, Insightful)

AllParadox (979193) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029701)

This is not a situation where some commercial outfit is making money off of using the name of the Library of Congress. If I see some commercial business doing that, I will turn them in myself.

This is plainly about freedom of political speech, a right enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Mr. Harper's use of the site, even his comparison of his search engine against THOMAS, is aimed at promoting his personal political agenda, both for his site and including his comparison.

Congress did not repeal the First Amendment.

For once, somebody has a beef with some meat on it. This is where you hire the attorney to reply with a nastygram.

Re:The LOC statute is irrelevant. (0, Flamebait)

mvdwege (243851) | more than 7 years ago | (#19032671)

This is not a situation where some commercial outfit is making money off of using the name of the Library of Congress.

Excuse me?! This is the Cato Institute we're talking about. You know, the think tank for hire, that will act as an 'indepedent source' to criticise any regulation you want as long as you pay enough.

This is bloody well a commercial outfit drumming up publicity to get more customers, and the teenage libertarians on Slashdot are falling for it in droves.

Sheesh.

Mart

yawn (-1, Troll)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#19029809)

wake me up with they get a court order.

tags (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19029859)

stop tagging things with "usa". it's redundant. there's a big american flag for the topic icon. like it or not, this is a US-centric site.

Exclusive Owernship? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19030367)

The last time I checked, the LOC was a government funded operation. Maybe the Matt-ster should look at that generous paycheck he gets from the sweat off of MY hard working brow. But then again, there is that pesky law called the, "First Amendment." But what I think is most significant is the part where a government official has all the time in the world to bring down the full force of the government against a citizen that questions the governments authority; That is something worth investigating.

You FAIL 1t.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19031207)

Would you like to our chances by BSDI who seel of its core and abroad for percent of the *BSD A previously There are only prospects are

A test case for something bigger? (2, Insightful)

Caspian (99221) | more than 7 years ago | (#19033939)

This guy criticised a service of the government's library, and got a nastygram/Cease-and-Desist. Perhaps this is an advance test of the feasibility of using lawyers to squash criticism of the government, much like how corporations often do the same?

in jest (1)

witte (681163) | more than 7 years ago | (#19034229)

>... asked that Harper stop using the names 'Library of Congress' ...
What's next ? Furlongs and gallons ?

which wiki engine? (1)

m0! (1099287) | more than 7 years ago | (#19035753)

Does anyone happen to know which wiki engine this is using?
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