Needle Dicks From Space

Hey, Spacey, what are you compensating for?

Hey, Spacey, what are you compensating for?

Today a brief report from our Shitty But True newsdesk.

The place: Seattle, Washington. The story: The owners of a smallish (relatively speaking) landmark that mars and/or has intercourse with the city’s skyline are harassing people who take pictures of said skyline and use the photographs in their POD (Print On Demand) projects.

We’re talking about, of course, the Space Needle. Can you think of any other landmarks in the Seattle skyline besides Courtney Love’s medicine cabinet?

Yes, the same Space Needle as seen in the opening sequence of the television show Fraiser and in the compelling crime drama The Killing. Those people must have paid big bucks.

The crux of the argument is this: The owners of the Space Needle structure claim ownership and copyright of the structure’s design. This includes it’s shape for usage on things like t-shirts, scale replica pieces of crap, key fobs, mugs, shot glasses, commemorative plates, post cards, calendars, mud flaps, and, of course, Ol’ Spacey (an intimate bedroom device but we won’t be mentioning that on this here quality blog).

If you take a picture of the Seattle skyline for your POD project and, like a damn fool, think to yourself: “Hey, it’s Seattle. Maybe I should point in the general direction of the downtown area and include that abomination thingy with the shittiest restaurant in town?” you just violated copyright law.

Personally I say, if you want to protect your precious copyright don’t do things with it like stick it in the city’s fucking skyline, eh? Kind of makes it hard to avoid, eh? Keep it in private (always good advice for large probes) or be a tad reasonable about enforcing your claim.

I think the question is one of intent. Is someone out to steal and profit from their awesome design? Or are they merely taking a picture of a city where someone decided to jam a giant probe? “Sorry, we’re greedy assholes. You are no longer allowed to take pictures of Seattle. This is not a Kodak moment.” It’s not like a skyline picture is the same as a project like, “The 12 Sexy Sides Of Seattle’s Space Needle 2014 Calendar.”

My friend was recently impacted by their copyright hyperactivity so I decided to honor her sweet, innocent, babe in the woods photograph with the following Photoshop project:


As you can clearly see, she really zoomed in on that sucker, eh? Imagine the photograph without the obelisk. That would really scream Seattle, right?

Who “owns” a city’s skyline? Personally I vote they blast it into orbit and then charge a fee to anyone who wants to gaze upon the stars. That sounds reasonable to me.

For more about her story please read this excellent post:
Caught in a Copyright Net

9 responses

  1. It’s getting to the point where we may have to pay royalties simply to admire these structures from afar, and the NSA will provide our coordinates! No one can own the skyline. But it seems they can.


    1. A little birdie told me that my tweets are probably not copyrightable although this has yet to be tested. Meanwhile, corporations can do things like copyright the shape of a structure and trademark single words.

      Funny how the odds are ever in their favor.


  2. That sound was my head hitting the desk. I hate people.


    1. AFAIK you can still publish photos of the Space Needle in not-for-profit places like your blog and Flickr, although they might still object.

      A photograph like the one I photoshopped above, IMHO, is protected from their claim because the inclusion of their copyright in the skyline is incidental. I’m no lawyer, but that’s my opinion. The needle dicks did not single out the photograph shown. They asked the POD service to take action and it was their decision to exorcise them all in a show of extreme overkill. Paranoia! The world that copyright law has given us.


  3. You can take a picture of a person (actor, celebrity) and get paid big bucks for the image.
    But you can’t take a picture of a building in the public domain and charge for the image.
    Greedy bastards.


    1. I hear protestors are taking pictures of people at certain public places then posting their faces on the internet to shame them. How is a face less protected than the shape of a damn structure? Grr.


  4. Unfrigginbelieveable. How PATHETIC. Thanks for telling me though … I had no idea that this was going on. Oi.


    1. I’m here for you! 🙂


  5. Sweet blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News. Do you have
    any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for
    a while but I never seem to get there! Thank you


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