Only weeks after Mike Mincberg and Christi Clements were removed from the student body presidential race, another copyright infringement question is being raised. This time it will be presidential hopeful Brandon Faza and his running mate J.P. Murphy who will be answering questions.
During spring break, The Oracle discovered a logo in use at The Bull Golf Club in Richmond, Ky., that bore a striking resemblance to Faza and Murphy’s campaign logo.
“We actually designed our own logo,” Faza said. “It’s line art, it’s a drawing … J.P. actually made it. We came up with our original logo; to us it is professional and it represents our campaign well.”
Original? Not according to Scott Porter, the general manager at the golf course in Richmond. He said the logo is indeed copyrighted.
After being told there was such a logo in Richmond, Faza recanted and acknowledged his logo’s connection with a golf course’s in Kentucky.
“Okay, here’s the deal. I believe that J.P. may have gotten the idea from a golf course in Kentucky; however, we made certain that that logo for that golf course was not trademarked and not copyrighted,” Faza said.
Porter said the logo in use at the golf course is copyrighted and the candidates did not receive permission to use it.
Murphy, who worked with Faza on the logo, said that he and Faza “had heard that it may have been from a golf course.” Murphy also said he found the line art logo on a free database and that his campaign’s logo was approved by the Election Rules Committee. Murphy was unable to provide a Web site for the database where the logo was found.
Despite the apparent connection between the two logos, nothing has been brought in front of the ERC, but chairman Andrew Read said he and his staff would investigate not only Faza and Murphy’s logo, but “most likely” the other candidates’ as well.
Faza said if the ERC does investigate this matter, he would be fully compliant to its demands.
“If it truly is (copyrighted) and charges are brought to the ERC and the ERC asks me, as he asked Mr. Mincberg, to take our signs down, then we would be forced to,” Faza said.
Murphy said that he too would be compliant.
“If we are in violation of copyright infringement, we will take (our logo) down,” Murphy said.
Mincberg and Clements were accused of copyright infringement and eventually ejected from the race after they displayed logos similar to SG’s, then refused to take them down from where they were displayed.
Their logo featured an M and a C, the initials of their first names, with bullhorns affixed to each letter, reminiscent of USF’s new athletic mark.
The mark also was too similar in appearance to SG’s official logo, which uses the same bullhorn concept.
After an appeal with the SG supreme court proved fruitless, the candidates took their case to USF’s Board of Trustees, where it is being appealed.
If Faza finds himself in a situation similar to Mincberg’s, he said he will handle it differently.
“I do have to say that I disagree (with the way Mincberg handled the situation) … I wouldn’t have taken the calculated risk of defying the ERC by putting my signs back up,” Faza said. “But as of right now since I am a Student Government senator, I am going to have to stand by my fellow branches with respect to the ERC and the court.”
Faza said that he and Murphy have used a large portion of their campaign finances incorporating the logo into advertisements. Those advertisements included three large signs, buttons, flyers and business cards. The campaign also invites people who visit their Web site to download the logo as desktop wallpaper or as a buddy icon for AOL Instant Messenger.
Mincberg didn’t have much to say after seeing both Faza’s and the Kentucky golf course’s logos.
“When I went to the Web site I laughed,” Mincberg said. “I think this whole situation is silly.”
Although sympathetic to Faza and Murphy, Mincberg said he wants to see consistency from the ERC, which, he says, should hold them to the same standards.
“I think the whole situation is foolish,” Mincberg said. “I don’t think we should have had charges brought up on us, I don’t think they should have charges brought up on them, and I think this whole thing is ridiculous.”
Chris Wagenheim is The Oracle’s Assistant Sports Editor