I’m not the world’s most politically active person. That’s no secret. I have my beliefs, and I act upon them from time to time, as the opportunity arises, but generally I’m not out with a picket sign. I prefer quieter action.
This evening, just about 15 minutes ago, the doorbell rang. I wasn’t aware of anyone coming to visit, or any appointments I’d made, and there’s a “no soliciting” sign by the bell – so my curiosity was piqued. If it was someone I knew, that’d be a pleasant surprise. If it was someone handing out tracts or selling magazines, I would smile sweetly and point to the sign. (And if they then said, “Oh, I didn’t read it” I’d have the perfect opening for a whole variety of responses!)
Actually, it was someone running for town office. I’m registered to vote, and this older gentleman had gotten my name and address from the lists, so I figured I’d listen for a few minutes. As long as he wasn’t shilling for money, I had the spare time. He spoke a little about what he wanted to do, and so on and so forth, and we chattted a bit about this town we both live in, and I signed a petition for an issue I am in favor of. Then, as he was about to go, he said, “There’s one other thing…” And he showed me a printout from the web site run by a group called Justice Team that, as far as I can tell, wants to curb crime and corruption in the county by engaging in what looks to me very much like the same sort of tactic that had children ratting out their parents about 65 years ago in Germany. The site (www.justiceteam.us, if you’re interested) is pretty lurid, in my opinion, and is full of grammatical errors that do not speak well of the intelligence of the site builder, at least – and upon first glance I made the choice that I didn’t much like these people.
The gentleman at my door opined that he didn’t much like what this looked like either, and he suggested I might want to keep an eye on local news leading up to a primary election next month, in which these folks were running. I said I’d do that, and then my eye caught an image a couple of pages in on the printout. It was The Shadow, from the old radio show and pulp magazines. I know for certain that the logo is a swipe, and I’d bet good money that the image of the character is as well. I smiled at the gentleman and said, “But first, I think I’d like to alert the owners of this copyrighted image and this trademarked logo – both of which appear without any attribution whatsoever – that this local group has infringed upon the owners’ intellectual property!” (Especially since at the bottom of Justice Team’s home page is a no-nonsense disclaimer to the effect that everything appearing on their web site belongs to them and don’t you dare think otherwise!)
I told the gentleman that I’d been in the intellectual property business long enough to know a case of copyright and trademark infringement when I saw it. His eyes lit up, he smiled at me, said “Thank you very much!” and went off at a brisk pace. I like to think, as I sit here writing these words, that he’s now on the phone to someone, who might then get on the phone to someone else, and at some point perhaps another legally-empowered someone will make a call to Justice Team and point out to them the irony of a vigilante group, railing against criminal ectivity, engaging in theft to make its point.
I enjoy my work, and the years I’ve put into it. Sometimes, like this evening, I really love this job.