Mutabilis wrote:A question on the side, how old is that insignia?
I mean, depending on country, copyright expires 50-75 years after the death of the artist.
I've begun to look into the matter, and it appears that the armed forces of several English-speaking
nations make some very broad claims regarding the use of their insignia. If you examine the website
of the UK Secretary of State For Defense, and they seem to imply that no one can offer any product
that displays RAF insignia for sale without their explicit permission. The even go so far as to suggest
this claim overrides freedom of speech and extends to even the most incidental appearance of that
insignia. ("Oh look, in the corner of your magazine cover, one of our roundels! Cease and desist!"
This, of course, is utter nonsense. We pass thousands of commercial products that display RAF
insignia every day. These range from newspapers and books to models, children's toys, cartoons,
video games, movies, and the like, often for purposes that are far from incidental. I recall with
particular fondness the 1/16-scale Spitfire Mk V I had as a child. I invite all of you to provide your
I imagine what we're seeing is the conventional legal strategy -- particularly common in intellectual
property law -- of making the broadest and vaguest possible claims, then relying on precedent,
expensive lawyers, and the threat of legal action to browbeat people into conceding privileges that
could not be justified on legal or moral grounds. When following this strategy, it pays to go after
fellows who lack the resources to defend themselves, to establish precedents one can later use
against fellows who can.
I have no problem with this. It's the kind of thing large organizations do. And heck, if I was a Brit,
my armed forces to be aggressive! But I do feel rather sorry for the poor bureaucrats who
have to enforce policies such as these. During my years at NASA and elsewhere, I saw first-hand the
soul-crushing toll this can exact on well-meaning people.