Yes, I have my own thoughts on that, and you're probably not going to like them. More later after I figure out how to explain them.
OK, HERE'S THE DEAL: As another source to get up to speed, check out this piece, particularly the CBC news piece explaining how the Royal Canadian Legion (RCL) wants to stop folks from using the graphic of the poppy without their permission. And what's my take on this? I'm so glad you asked.
The RCL has a case. Sort of.
The problem is that they've painted themselves into a corner to the point where they really have no choice but to take this position. Let me explain.
The purpose of poppies this time of year is clearly two-fold. First, the remembrance part -- that's a no-brainer. And, secondly (and here's where the RCL gets itself into trouble) the fundraising part.
That sales of popples are a form of fundraising as explained here:
Today, the Poppy Campaign is one of the Royal Canadian Legion's most important programs. The money raised from poppy sales provides direct assistance for ex-service people in financial distress, as well as funding for medical appliances and research, home services, care facilities, and numerous other purposes.
There's no question that that's a noble fundraising cause but it's also part of the problem.
If the poppy was used only as a symbol of remembrance, then there would be no problem using it wherever and whenever anyone wanted since, the more exposure, the better. But that's not all it's for, is it?
In what can be described only as a decision that came back to bite them in the ass, the RCL also chose to use the sales of poppies for fundraising, which puts them in a real bind, doesn't it? On the one hand, they want poppies to be everywhere for the remembrance value. On the other hand, they want to restrict their distribution so as not to cut into the fundraising aspect.
As I see it (and I could be totally wrong here), the RCL is right in that, if they don't protect the trademark, it will eventually be available to anyone, and that could potentially lead to greedy entrepreneurs, dressed in official-looking garb, standing on street corners, selling poppies where all of the proceeds go into their own pockets. Fraudulent fundraising, as it were. But it's entirely possible if the RCL were to lose control of the "distribution rights."
Having said that and, to some extent, sympathizing with the RCL, this is a problem of their own making in that they're trying to use the poppy for two incompatible purposes: 1) remembrance, and 2) fundraising. And it's clear that those two purposes are butting heads with one another.
I'm not defending the RCL so much as sympathizing with them. They got themselves into this position, and it's not clear how they can get themselves out. Is there a solution?
Perhaps, just for now, web sites can accommodate the RCL and replace the poppy graphic with something like a "Lest We Forget" graphic or something equally suitable, but also make it clear to the RCL that they have to resolve this, and soon. For everyone's sake. Because if enough people get pissed off about this, one way to take it out on the RCL would be to stop buying their poppies.
And that's going to be hurting all the wrong people.
JUST BEING PEDANTIC: The article at Dawg's Blawg describes the conflict thusly:
The Royal Canadian Legion has managed to combine astounding pettiness with an utter lack of political savvy by demanding that Bourque Newswatch remove the image of a poppy from that site--it's apparently viewed as a copyright infringement.
It's not a copyright, it's a trademark. Legally speaking, there's a world of difference. Just sayin'.