Saturday, March 21, 2009

Cease and Desist: MTA 1; This Blogger 0

This past week I was copied on an electronic cease and desist letter, sent to me via email, from the MTA regarding a graphic I created for Roosevelt Island's local newspaper The Main Street WIRE, which ran in its March 7, 2009 edition. The graphic was titled "Unofficial Service Changes" and detailed the weekends the MTA has planned (for the period March 1 through June 1) to institute service disruptions affecting the stations serviced by the 63rd Street Tunnel between Manhattan and Queens. I say planned as all New Yorkers know any service changes, announced or otherwise, or always subject to change.

The letter asserts that the graphic violates the MTA's federal copyrights as well as puts forth service information not sanctioned by the MTA and which may be subject to change.

While I admit the graphic was created to evoke the image of Service Change notices issued by the MTA it could not generally be confused to be an officially sanctioned and issued notice due to its header which read "Unofficial Service Changes". I do admit I mistakenly left the MTA's footer on the image which only upon being enlarged to 400% could even be read and was still blurry.

As for the content of the notice I can only say the information stated was provided to me by an MTA spokesperson in writing (via email) and who had provided such info to me in the past and knew its purpose was for publication (from earlier correspondence) in the WIRE. Granted this individual did not know nor did I state I would be presenting the info in an "unofficial" service change mock up.

The whole goal of the graphic notice was to present information to the public not to mock or berate the MTA so the intent was only to benefit the public. I see on the Internet, on TV, and within print media use of the subway line bullet logos all the time so I was highly surprised this little graphic caused an issue warranting a cease and desist letter.

The WIRE in its current issue, dated March 21, 2009, has referred to the cease and desist letter in its editorial and presented it, in full, within its "Letters to the Editor" section along with a response from the WIRE's legal counsel. The info I provided is again presented but within a simple text box, not prepared or designed by me, titled "Subway Dis-Service".

For myself, this blog post is my mea culpa for something I do believe was not copyright infringement nor done with malice. But as a working dad supporting a family in this fragile economy I will be more careful to not use official logos in such forms prospectively as legal action is not something I can afford right now. But where it is called for I expect to publish photos, graphics, and stories dealing with the F subway line and the local station without hesitancy.

The graphic in my left side bar is my current method for stating the possible service change dates communicated to me. I don't believe I am threatening the copyrights held by the MTA at this time. I am sure I will be told if I cross the line as they see it again.

So right now the result is: MTA 1; This Blogger 0


  1. don't worry, soon the mta will be too broke to sue you anyways. miss ri and all (well, MOST) who dwell on her.


  2. You would think that the MTA has bigger and better things to worry about. Don't let the MAN get you down!

  3. I thought the reaction by the WIRE was really childish. I thought one is supposed to always take the high road. So the MTA overreacted. I can somehow understand why and I would assume that some of their claims are bogus but some are valid. But when I read the editorial, geez, what the hell? It read like the tantrum of a 5 year old.