Monday, 11 April 2011

MTA threatens MetroCartists

This is apparently what the fuss is all about
New York's financially challenged Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is reportedly launching proceedings against Victoria McKenzie, a local artist, for selling painted MetroCards, claiming the artist infringed  the authority's trade marked brand and logo. Ms McKenzie is one of a group of MetroCartists who assert the right to use the cards as canvas. She says:
"The use of found objects in art has been around forever, especially the use of iconic New York imagery such as the MetroCard"..
She has been asked by the MTA's marketing and advertising division to cease selling the cards and to remove any MTA-branded items from, an online marketplace which had 17 items on offer here under the search term 'metrocard' when this blogger checked today -- though they appeared to be holders for the card rather than anything else. As an alternative, MTA indicated its willingness to accept a royalty u=in exchange for a licence.  According to the authors of the source of this information.
"The MTA uses unpaid interns to search online for trademark infringement "when they have the time," says Aaron Donovan, a spokesman for the MTA. 
Mr. Donovon says the MTA spots violations on a daily basis and typically works with artists to secure licensing deals rather than pursue punitive measures. 
Through close to 120 licensees, the MTA generates about $500,000 a year in revenue, or about what it expected to save from cutting one express-bus line during a round of service cuts last year. Typically, artists enter into licensing deals with the authority, giving up about 10% of net revenue".
To date, Ms. McKenzie says she has sold only one MetroCard, though presumably the publicity generated by what looks like an ill-judged and unfounded claim may be expected to generate a few more.

Source: "MTA Says Artist on Wrong Track" by Shelly Banjo and Andrew Grossman, Wall Street Journal, 9 April 2011

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