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July 9, 2014: DC Reverses Decision to Allow "S" Symbol on Murdered Boy's MemorialPrint

Jeffrey's Memorial Statue DC Entertainment has reversed their initial decision and will now allow a Toronto family to use the Superman "S" shield on a statue dedicated to the memory of five-year-old Jeffrey Baldwin who died in 2002.

    "I was angry. My first thought was to burn every DC comic book I ever had, but after talking with them, I sort of came around to see their perspective on it more," Boyce told CBC Metro Morning’s Matt Galloway on Tuesday. "They weren't comfortable associating the character of Superman with child abuse."

    On Wednesday, DC released a statement saying that after verifying the support of appropriate family members, it is allowing the statue to feature the "S" logo.

    "We are honoured by the relationship that our fans have with our characters, and fully understand the magnitude of their passion," the company said in its statement.

    "We take each request seriously and our heartfelt thoughts go out to the victims, the family and those affected. DC Entertainment uses a flexible set of criteria when we receive worthy requests such as this, and at times have reconsidered our initial stance."

Read the full report at CBC News.

While this is indeed great news for those rallying for the statue's use of the "S" symbol, legal expert and Superman fan Jeff Trexler comments on why DC Comics may have taken their original stance in this matter. It's worth a read. As is BleedingCool.com's report on why this is a reccuring problem for DC.


Comments

38436
#1 | CK61938 on July 9, 2014 7:44pm EST
I'm glad they reversed their decision. I can also now understand their reason for declining in the first place. No one really wants to associate with child abuse. In a way, it would be seen as them supporting it. But I am still glad the decision has been reversed. Kudos, DC.
34633
#2 | Doug22 on July 9, 2014 8:05pm EST
Great move by WB/DC. Begrudgingly IMO. I am hoping the Shusters win and the SCOTUS grants them 50% ownership. Because of stuff like this. And then that the Siegels get the other 50%.

Superman is dying at WB/DC. Look at the comic book sales, the lack of everything. This character needs to be gone, IMO, from DC, to thrive again. The stupdity of this initial decision reinforces that DC and WB don't IMO get Superman.

My loyalty is to the character, to Superman, and not to DC/WB who make mis-step after mis-step. IMO.

How sad that DC didn't think this out first before saying no and then reversing themselves. Reversing themselves, not because it was the right thing to do IMO, but because of public pressure. Like I said, how sad.
35927
#3 | liheibao on July 9, 2014 8:20pm EST
As critical as I am of DC when it comes to Superman, they got it right here, and deserve full credit for doing so.
18232
#4 | Hypoxic on July 9, 2014 8:24pm EST
@Doug22

Knock it off, Doug. Your opinions on DC, the lawsuits, Superman comic book sales, and your loyalties belong in relevant feeds. When you follow feeds to look for opportunities to state your opinions, your statements become platitudes. Keep on task.
22226
#5 | Kaythen on July 9, 2014 8:40pm EST
This brings a smile to my face. Nice move DC, way to look past the trees.
35926
#6 | Adryan Kent on July 9, 2014 8:46pm EST
Good to hear they "take each request seriously", because that is a professional way to proceed in everything you do. The child memory is being honored, and have to say I was on DC's side, because they have to take Superman seriously as well and have to protect his image, regardless of personal feelings and opinions.

I guess it's easier to attack the faceless corporations and leave reason behind when a sentiment is provoked with a news headline. In my opinion, this was the best way this situation could've been resolved. Everyone deserves a cookie.
15341
#7 | gr8one on July 9, 2014 9:10pm EST
It may have illuminated DC's initial concerns and, as well reasoned and detailed Trexler was, apparently all his points can basically be thrown out the window.
5037
#8 | mindhavens on July 10, 2014 6:29am EST
DC didn't have to do this, I completely understand why they didn't originally agree to it but I think it's great they have. Regardless the who story is incredibly tragic, a little boy lost his life due to abuse which saddens me greatly.
18850
#9 | solitude on July 10, 2014 10:22am EST
Obviously (without knowing ALL the facts on my part) they caved into publicity

As stated by Dr Awkward copyrights (like many other laws mendmants) have to be honored but have to be rethought

Technically this is a "harmless" thing but others will veiw it as


And other companies are lax such as Hasbro with it's ponies or sadastic such as Disney when you use the characters they are partial too in Disney's case put characters of Black Cauldron you won't here a pep but Frozen.................................


I could go on listing things for hours but I won't

Final thought Nice to see the boy get this honor
5277
#10 | lemarjones on July 10, 2014 11:18am EST
The Bleedingcool.com article is dead on. The WWE hs a program very similar and it's a very easy process.

This legal situation has to have you wondering, to use a phrase from US urban culture, What is really going on at WB/DC legal offices not to have something like this in place. But I'm not suprised that they don't. Heck, they lost the ability to use their own logo due to their legal staff not being entirely on top of things.

And their statements, both against and for the use of the shield were so cold and impersonal. They really need to work on that in the future.
20530
#11 | Snookeroo on July 10, 2014 11:37am EST
The assumption that anyone could look at a memorial statue of a child wearing a Superman suit and then come to the conclusion that the copyright owner condones child abuse is beyond stupid.
Who, in their right mind, would ever even consider that?
Virtually anyone would look at such a memorial and conclude that this child must have loved Superman. That's it. Period.
Only in the feckless, spineless world of corporation-think could anyone even be concerned about such a thing.
WB should be ashamed, assuming they know what that is.
20530
#12 | Snookeroo on July 10, 2014 11:39am EST
Superman is dying at WB/DC. Look at the comic book sales, the lack of everything. This character needs to be gone, IMO, from DC, to thrive again. The stupdity of this initial decision reinforces that DC and WB don't IMO get Superman.

My loyalty is to the character, to Superman, and not to DC/WB who make mis-step after mis-step. IMO.

How sad that DC didn't think this out first before saying no and then reversing themselves. Reversing themselves, not because it was the right thing to do IMO, but because of public pressure. Like I said, how sad.


Bingo.
37517
#13 | Meno on July 10, 2014 12:53pm EST
Can we get DrAwkward (can we call him Doc Awk? Cool ) to explain more legal ramifications here by allowing the use?
25377
#14 | Sol on July 10, 2014 1:21pm EST
Count me in as another supporter of Doug22!
34808
#15 | Marc Pritchard on July 10, 2014 1:48pm EST
^ What do you mean, Sol? You support him going off-topic to air his broad grievances with WB/DC (very crassly, in my view, given the context of this particular item) or are you trying to stand in solidarity with him as a revolutionary against the member rules?

Either way, Hypoxic's warning to Doug22 is now extended to you.

And for the record: this has nothing to do with the content of Doug's view, which is in and of itself not especially offensive or objectionable (though I don't personally agree with it in any way), but with the inappropriateness of expressing that view in this thread. Not only, as Hypoxic said, does following feeds to look for opportunities to state one's opinions turn associated statements into platitudes, it also starts to enter trolling/baiting territory.

And as I hope it continues to become more and more clear, we won't stand for that.

Thank you.
39103
#16 | BMoore25 on July 10, 2014 2:41pm EST
I'm happy DC has allowed the boy to use the kryptonian symbol of hope. I'm even more thrilled that this boys good family members sees Superman as a symbol of hope and strength. I hope this little boy can rest in peace
35587
#17 | EstebanSupes on July 10, 2014 3:02pm EST
Thank you Marc Pritchard for that well written post. I understand and agree with all of your points. Much appreciated.
5277
#18 | lemarjones on July 10, 2014 3:23pm EST
Marc, although I agree with you to an extent, I see Doug22's statements as nicely threading this topic with many of the other not so successful things that WB/DC has done with the Superman franchise over the last 5 to 10 years.

many times over the last 75 years, Superman, the franchise, was king of everything with an \S/ associated with it. AS of late, outside of our world of fandom and inside as well, Superman is barely staying above water in comparison to other similar franchises. And like Doug22, I concur with stating that frustration and disappointment at every opportunity.

Many of you might call that trolling. I call that being passionate. What bothers me about this 'warning extension', which I now imagine I'm going to be included in, is that as long as someone is babbling praises or doesn't have much critical to say, nothing by an admin or anyone else results in a "Now will you stop it with all of the syrupy praise? We all love Superman but that is a thing as too much love."

The fact of the matter is, not only does he have a right to his opinion; he's backing up what he's saying with facts that have been discussed repeatedly here in one form or another on this homepage.

Doug22 obviously feels that Superman as we knew him and as we now know him, will end up like other characters that have fallen to the wayside over the last generation or two when they were tops at one time. Not only that, but look at what no longer exists in the DCU today:

The Legion of Superheroes--gone. Who would have thunk that?

Superboy-- history, after barely 20 years of being back in publication and only a few years after WB/DC won back some of the rights to publish him.

Now add to the fact that for over 3 years, many of the human things that made Superman human have been all but absent: the Clark/Lois/Superman love triangle, Clark's adult parents. The Daily Planet and its staff...

I can see Doug22's concerns. My only issue is that why aren't more of his critics just as concerned?
33234
#19 | jed1138 on July 10, 2014 3:59pm EST
What happened to this child was tragic, horrifying, a blatant example of how cruel humans can be. I first learned about Jeffrey Baldwin a few years ago. I'm still haunted by the details of his abuse.
When I heard about DC's denial for use of the logo I thought, "Why?! what better way to honor this child...What better way to symbolize Superman."

Then I realized this was most likely DC's zero-tolerance policy. There was no decision. They just do not allow for it. The upheaval was great, so DC "adjusted" their policy.
I don't feel that we should judge DC as "human" --Being able to make decisions. They are a business. At first, there was no monetary gain to be seen. Then backlash caused public dissatisfaction, which could lead to losses.

So in end, I offer no dissatisfaction for their initial denial nor do I offer any credit for making this exception.
34808
#20 | Marc Pritchard on July 10, 2014 4:13pm EST
What bothers me about this 'warning extension', which I now imagine I'm going to be included in, is that as long as someone is babbling praises or doesn't have much critical to say, nothing by an admin or anyone else results in a "Now will you stop it with all of the syrupy praise? We all love Superman but that is a thing as too much love."

And this is where you'd be wrong -- as I said, it's not the content of the post, it's the topical appropriateness. So yes, I have put a stop to the same kind of behaviour where the content has indeed been "syrupy praise."

Besides, if you haven't noticed that plenty of dissenting opinions get voiced around here without moderator intervention, then you're not paying attention. Or if you have noticed, perhaps consider why that might be. (Also, I'm not going to formally extend the warning to you because you didn't just ignore Hypoxic's earlier moderation. But the matter should have ended then and there.)

In any case, since you're interested, this is precisely what's going on: I'm not wasting any more effort on PM messages advising individuals when they've run afoul of the rules. That hasn't helped us in any way at all, because even when it succeeds in curtailing the problematic behaviour of this or that individual, it does nothing about the larger problem. Why? Because, as you prove, no one has any idea it's happened. I'm not going to name names, but believe me, it happens more often than you obviously know (and often after more repeated warnings than you would probably believe, however fast the individual's syrup might have been running). If you don't think I'm being fair, then by all means I invite you to bring it up with Steve Younis.

To this remark, then
I concur with stating that frustration and disappointment at every opportunity

I say "I'm with you in theory, but there are ways to do it that are respectful of the items in question. Don't confuse content with context." This also isn't the "public square," so appeals to rights of free expression don't really apply (though of course we operate within the spirit of that idea -- it's why we have no problem in principle with dissent).

I'll end by stating I consider this tangential discussion to be closed (though feel free to PM me if you have more you must say about it -- we aren't monsters anymore than we think you are) and by quoting a section of the rules: http://www.superm...opic=rules

Remain on topic. If a particular news item or thread pertains to a specific topic, do not go off on a tangent and post remarks that aren't specifically related to the topic at hand. It is suggested that you start a new post in the Message Boards to explore this tangential discussion in preference to skewing the existing discussion off-topic. You are welcome to post a link to that thread in the original thread.

Thank you.
30371
#21 | UltraWoman on July 10, 2014 7:41pm EST
I don't know if Boyce has been reading Superman comics if he says that "DC doesn't want to be associated with child abuse". By this I mean the scenes associated with Lois (and their child's) death in "Injustice" (I know the "mitigating factors" but it doesn't change the emotional hit it gave me when I read it while pregnant with my own child and trying to imagine my husband in the same scenario with my HUSBAND winning out over Superman in that instance). Also, Brutaal/Kal-L (formerly Clark) basically murdering his father in cold blood in the recent Earth 2 comic. The "meaning" behind the "S" it taking on MUCH more muddied meaning of late.

FTR, I do think it's(this particular instance of the shield on the child's memorial) is along the lines of that one child wearing Superman's Cape in Action #0.
36734
#22 | DrAwkward on July 10, 2014 8:37pm EST
My belated analysis...

DC is not going to get a fraction of the credit it deserves for this decision, and it is doing a very Superman-ish thing, which is, essentially to believe in the fundamental goodness of people. They are banking on people not exploiting their current position, and I hope their faith is rewarded.

There are a lot of repercussions to granting a license of their trademark for this commissioned, for-profit piece of work... first and foremost, it provides little deterrence to future infringers who may feel entitled to use the mark banking on the court of public opinion if not the courts themselves, leading to more infringing use that may or may not be as sympathetic or desirable by DC (here, the matter was relatively non-controversial, however, it doesn't take much to imagine a controversial cause hijacking the mark for their own use with the expectation that DC will forgive or license them the mark later... to the outrage of the parties on the other side of the controversy).

Since this was not a case of non-enforcement, but license, DC does not have to worry about other infringers specifically citing this matter as a waiver of their rights, however, it does mean that they can not say they aren't in this business... especially since the gravestone is intended to last in perpetuity, they would have had to give a long license (unlike the barbershop case where, incidentally, shortly after providing the license the shop had to close up anyways... there they may have released a license of a few years to be renewed as appropriate). That association may, however unlikely, cost DC some business or value to their mark... which DC is then responsible to their shareholders over. Again, not a huge issue if the public doesn't exploit that point (like arguing the association as if there wasn't a context as a bargaining point for the valuation of the license) and because of the strength of the Superman mark. But if the mark is used liberally on say urns, caskets, and sex toys in tacky and offensive ways, it can be devalued and cost DC other licenses... it's because DC has been a careful steward of the mark that it maintains its strength and meaning.

Regarding setting up a gateway like the WWE, I have to respectfully disagree. The marks aren't comparable at all. Outside of nostalgia and its fanbase, the WWE mark is arguably controversial itself, in many cases reviled as degenerate and the worst aspects of western entertainment culture... by contrast, Superman's mark is known the world over and, more or less, associated primarily with humanity's best traits and aspirations. The reason the WWE so readily provides its license to charity is because how desperately its mark needs and benefits from the rehabilitation that positive association provides! By contrast, Superman's mark is already positively regarded, in large part because of how DC carefully metes out its licenses... all it takes is for Superman's license to be embroiled in a politicized charity not completely vetted, which goes off the rails, or whose members / founders turn out to have some skeleton in their closet... and suddenly Superman's shield gets dragged through the mud.

That isn't to say DC and Superman aren't using the mark for charity... quite the contrary, DC has many charitable initiatives! The difference is that the mark is given to those on DC's terms, rather than an unknown quantity simply taking it then begging for forgiveness afterwards.

In any case, the short version: DC is relying on the public to recognize this as the special case that it is rather than exploiting it as foot-in-the-door. Hopefully, we're worthy of that trust.
36734
#23 | DrAwkward on July 10, 2014 9:00pm EST
A quick example of the power of association actually trumping the Superman IP... consider the controversy surrounding the issue written by Orson Scott Card. Presumably, the issue would not have expounded upon any of Card's views and that Card had already been paid for his work product. Nonetheless, the mere association of the work with Card's views, however tangential, was enough that even those invested in the Superman IP, elected to boycott and force DC to pull the production of the issue.

And that is amongst comic book fans already predisposed to give Superman the benefit of the doubt (in terms of consumerism... a comic book fan is many times more likely to pick up a Superman comic, than someone alien to the product)!

In order to maintain the integrity of a mark... its value and meaning to people... it's reasonable that DC is careful in its issuance or defense against infringers.
39103
#24 | BMoore25 on July 10, 2014 9:00pm EST
@DrAwkward, that was a great post, much appreciated.
12826
#25 | wupmasta2000 on July 11, 2014 12:40am EST
This has nothing to do the logo being associated with child abuse. It's has everything to do with trademark dilution. Like DC stated, a ton of worthy causes ask to use the logo. Problem is that if everyone starts using it, DC's ability to enforce infringement because weaker and weaker. DC comes off as the jerks, but they do have a business to run and I can see how something like this can turn into the slippery slope of having that people at DC determine whose unfortunate story is "compelling enough" to warrant permission to use the logo (e.g., well, he was killed by a drunk driver but that's not enough. She was shot by a gang member while on her way to buy the family dinner, so I guess she can use the logo).

As someone else posted, apparently that WWE has a process for this which should be considered by DC, but lets face it, they are two completely different organizations and what works for one may not work for the other.

All that said, I'm glad they made an exception for the kid. The statute looks amazing and it reminds me of how I felt as a kid when I donned the suit. RIP little guy.
37517
#26 | Meno on July 11, 2014 8:11pm EST
Thanks DrAwkward!
3069
#27 | Enigma2099 on July 12, 2014 12:32pm EST
This should have NEVER gotten to this point. It's not like they were rallying to put the symbol on the KILLER'S tombstone, DC!

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