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The city I write this in protected its name, so I am not allowed to use it (r3bl.me)
483 points by r3bl on Jan 21, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 163 comments

Unrelated to the article: I really liked the picture of the Statue of Liberty in the article, but having been to Liberty Island myself, I thought it looked sort of off (there are no trees in front of the statue and no bridges behind it, and likely nowhere you could actually stand to get that particular angle and framing, without using some crazy telephoto setup). At first I thought the pyramidical skyscraper in the background was the Transamerica building in San Francisco and perhaps this was a shot of a replica Statue in the Bay area. But again, the bridge was unfamiliar and the apparent distance from the statue to the bridge and the city behind it did not fit with my recollection of San Francisco Bay geography.

But after doing a little bit of poking around at where replicas of the Statue of Liberty may be found (there are lots of them!), this one appears to be on the artificial island of Odaiba in Tokyo Bay. That's Tokyo in the background and the Rainbow Bridge. (See the wikipedia page on Odaiba[0] for a similarly framed shot.)

Anyway it's a great shot of the replica, the bridge, and the city of Tokyo. Credit for the photo is down at the end of the article[1], but whether the author of the piece realized what the photo was actually of or not, I'm now savoring the additional layers of context and irony the photo brings to the piece.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odaiba [1] https://unsplash.com/photos/S9lCKQ9XS8c

An interesting thing is that since the only specific landmarks in the SoftBank emoji that Apple originally adopted were the Statue of Liberty, Moai, Tokyo Tower and the Shibuya 109 department store; reasonably the only reason the Statue of Liberty is encoded in Unicode Emoji is due to this replica in Odaiba.

The Moai has a replica at Shibuya Station (and even now if you type in "しぶや" into an iPhone it will suggest the Moai emoji) https://emojipedia.org/moyai/

Shibuya 109 never made it into Unicode since it's a commercial building https://emojipedia.org/shibuya/

At the very beginning it was the original sister one, not a replica:

> The French Statue of Liberty from the Île aux Cygnes came to Odaiba, Tokyo, from April 1998 to May 1999 in commemoration of "The French year in Japan". Because of its popularity, in 2000 a replica of the French Statue of Liberty was erected at the same place.


Interestingly, that probably means that that photo is illegitimate. Photos of sculptural entities attached to architecture are considered copyright breaches in Japan, and Odaiba is certainly not old enough to have moved into PD.

What is copyright breach in one country, it is not necessarily in the other one. One cannot just impose laws to other countries, that is why countries are sovereign.

To impose copyright restrictions in other countries there must be either international agreement or the law in that other country that permits such limits.

Author here.

I really had trouble finding the photo of the Statue of Liberty during night that I could use in this article. Unsplash gave me just this one photo. Wikimedia Commons gave me nothing. Flickr gave me more results, but they were mostly from Vegas (easy to spot for me) or Tokyo (difficult to spot for me). I have re-searched Flickr now (with the "all creative commons" filter selected), and I still can't find a photo that I could guarantee is a real thing, let alone a photo that looks as good as the Unsplash one I have used.

I now regret making that decision, because if I knew that this was Tokyo in the background, I would avoid using it.

Nonetheless, it adds an even greater depth to the absurdity of the premise of intellectual property your article discusses.

A photo with its own special attribution and reuse rights, depicting a full-scale replica (possibly with its own special rights for time of day), of an original that, by way of simple expiration under the letter of the law (and not so much in the spirit of the work itself) has effectively released its photographic and replicative rights to the world, which do not cascade on down to other replicas or depictions.

So I can produce an inspiring and original work, permit the world to replicate it in full and depict in images, but those that do so can make me beg to reference their work. Riiiiiight.

> Statue of Liberty

There is also a smaller version of the one found in New York in Paris - not sure why they decided to have an additional token there, and whether it was during Eiffel's time or much later.

There are much more, and entirely official ones to boot:

The first try was 3m high, was followed by a 12m one in plaster kept at musée des Arts et Métiers, and later used for a 12 unit run of bronze casts, one of which stands outside the same museum.

Then there's one currently standing in musée d'Orsay since 2012, moved from jardin du Luxembourg. This was the first bronze cast made from the plaster one, unrelated to the 12 run.

Finally there's one which was gifted by a US association to France in honor of the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution, erected at Ile des Cygnes. It was due to stand facing the NY one but was made facing east so that it would not turn its back to president Carnot on it's inauguration in 1889.

Another 12m one has been erected in 2004 in Colmar, the town where Bartholdi was born to honor then hundredth anniversary of his death, but it's not made of bronze.


Harrisburg PA has an unofficial one as well, though only 25 ft high. Originally put up as a prank on an old bridge piling, then replaced it with the current (metal and slightly larger) version when the plywood one blew off.



"A notable feature is a quarter-scale replica of Liberty Enlightening the World, commonly known as the Statue of Liberty, 22 metres tall and facing west in the direction of its larger sibling in New York City. Inaugurated by President Marie François Sadi Carnot on 4 July 1889, nearly three years after its US counterpart, it was donated to the city by the Parisian expatriots in the United States and Canada to mark the centennial of the French Revolution."

Not that this really adds to the depth of the conversation, but I thought it was interesting, and so will share, that this Marie Francois Sadi Carnot is the nephew of the Carnot that HN readers might recognize for discovering maximally efficient engine cycles.

Japan has a few replicas. For a very underwhelming experience I recommend visiting the one in Oirase, Aomori in the middle of winter. At least you won't be troubled by any other tourists getting in the way in your photos. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Statue_of_Libert...

A few? That's quite bizarre is it not? How many other countries have a few replicas of a monument?

From what I've seen of Tokyo, the Japanese seem to have a crush on France in general. Tokyo is littered with French-themed spaces, and Paris Syndrome is particularly noted among Japanese travelers. [0]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_syndrome

>> Legal and private entities that use the emblem and the name of the City of Sarajevo...

With the word "and" in there, I'm thinking this is more about protecting the emblem. Using an emblem (not a flag) of a government entity in certain ways might be construed as conveying something to the content. In other words, putting the emblem along with the name of the city might lead people to think a web page was produced on behalf of the city. I seriously doubt using the name of the city like in the blog is a problem.

I suspect in regard Sarajevo the author is deliberately making the situation sound more absurd than it really is. Having said that, I think his point regarding architectural works is valid. Publishing pictures of publicly visible objects - and buildings in particular - should not have legal hinderances.

It would have been absurd if not for the cease and desist made to the FB page...

He is making it absurd. In the article the author claims that he cannot name the city of Sarajevo and that view is of course bullshit. You can always write about something. The article's title is plain wrong, as is its introduction.

Using the name (in a sense of making it your own or using if for something you sell) is a whole different matter though. The city of Sarajevo might not have a strong obligation to protect its name as say a music label defending their name against a computer company, but still they city has good reason to check on those things.

Having said that, the city is of course morally wrong to use this power on a simple facebook page with vintage photos. They probably have a problem with some photos of times they rather want to forget (I see a photo from 1941 and IIRC that was under Nazi-occupation (stupid Italians, why would anyone ever want the balcans?)) If anything, the city should have invited the page's admins to their own tourist bureau, help them and make sure they know some basic rules about copyright (like not using photos with a Getty images watermark. seriously?).

So obviously it's protected speech in the title of an article, but obviously it's not protected speech in the title of a facebook group? I don't think the distinction here is as strong as you imply.

The facebook page is a legal (or rather private) entity as described in the city's law, an article about the city of Sarajevo is not. If you write a book about the city, the book is not a legal entity and you'll be fine using "Sarajevo" in the title. If you name your publishing house "Sarajevo books" it is a legal entity and you might want to talk with the city first.

Facebook page cannot be a "legal entity". Further, legal entities may be as well private entities.

Legal entities are created by governments, either as governmental organizations (persons on paper) or as companies and various types of associations (private persons on paper).

Facebook page may be opened up by such legal entity, but itself does not constitute such.

Why would the people of Sarajevo care about a publishing house calling itself “Sarajevo books”?

So why is there no clause in the law that states this specifically. Legally, clear as day, it's written. If the city wishes to allow it, they should amend the law to say so. If they don't, that's as good as affirmation of their perogative, especially now with this publicity.

Furthermore, the motivation to do that might be helped by the authors exposure of their tactics, justifying any sensationalism. No lies are written in this article.

Even if only for pedantic reasons, a law should clearly state it's interpretation. Leaving it up to arbitrary discretion is a slippery slope, and a good way to find yourself in a censorship situation.

It's all unreasonable and paranoia until you get a cease-and-decist.

The law does specify it when it: "Legal and private entities".

A blog post about Sarajevo can mention the city's name without falling under this law. The blogpost's title and introduction are simply wrong.

Screaming wolves doesn't help the case of the facebook page, sensationalism cannot be justified here.

Where do you draw the legal entity line between a facebook page and a blog entry?

I think the reason for that is the Eastern Sarajevo that is used as name by Serbs, so that is why main Sarajevo tries to forbid using name and emblem together.

If law says "name and emblem" than it applies to both together. And it certainly cannot forbid people in other countries doing so, that applies for Bosnia only or for some countries having international relations with them.

Try to forbid it in Uganda or Congo, it will not work like that.

Absurdity is a valid method of handling the frequently-asked question "Okay, they want control of XYZ, why is that so bad?" regarding all XYZ — in this case, the brand a city perceives it has authority to control.

Don't forget it is the voters who gave the city this power. Laws can be changed by the next government.

It would be interesting to know the history of the law's article 21. As a programmer I'm used to the transparency of my code repo and who contributed which bit. Is git-driven law-making utopian?

> Is git-driven law-making utopian?

Author of the article here, and I wish for the same.

This country contains the laws on the national level, on the "state" (called entities) / district level, one of the "states" has canton-level laws, and then there's a local level. However, if you start moving between the two entities and the district (a relatively minor part of the population moves from one entity to the other), the line gets really blurry.

On top of that, the laws themselves are really not available in one place. They're scattered across different websites (you'll notice that the city's statue and the law I've mentioned aren't linking to the same domain), in different formats, in different local "languages" (it's a same language, we just call it differently for political reasons), and sometimes they are scanned PDFs.

It's a country with less than 4 million citizens, separated into two entities + one district, three official "languages", three presidents (no, I'm not joking, Bosnia & Herzegovina has three presidents), some international entities that guarantee the peace in the country...

And while that utopian wish of Git-driven law-making seems unreachable here, the best middle-ground solution I have is to scrape a third-party resource containing most (but not all) of the laws in PDFs, and then searching through those 200ish PDF documents I've scraped (totaling at 233 MB) locally multiple times with different variations of the word I'm looking for.

As an example, the term "article 1" could be found as "član 1", "članak 1", "члан 1", "clan 1" and "clanak 1" in different PDFs I've collected, and even if I search through all of the variations of the term I'm looking for, there's still a chance that the term I'm looking for might be scanned, and therefore unsearchable. And good luck to anyone who tries to find a OCR tool that understands Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian and works well enough to process scans of legal documents in shitty quality.

I'd buy into the FUD a little more if the author had redacted the name for real instead of adding a black background color to black text. Selecting the text reveals the name. Obviously that's not going to fool a crawler.

Author here.

As I have said in an other comment on this thread, the idea is that the city's name is easily discoverable.

You can discover it by highlighting the text, clicking at the button at the bottom of the article, and by following the Wikipedia links in the first paragraph.

I highly doubt that this decision could be upheld in the court. If they want to sue me, I'm ready to "pay for the damage caused" and face legal consequences. Casual Facebook users that are administering Facebook's pages are probably not ready to face the same consequences.

And, since this is my blog, the only third party that could remove the mentions of the name without my consent is my hosting provider (arguably better protection than Facebook offers), but if they do so, I will put on a server on the Raspberry Pi and continue with the distribution.

I am not a lawyer, but I think you are the missing point of Decision about the usage of the emblem, name and the flag of the City of Sarajevo. Article 7 states that "... legal persons may be granted to use the name Sarajevo in a business (company) name or product name, provided their business activity doesn't harm and helps affirm its reputation." You using the name Sarajevo in a blog post or its title clearly doesn't violate this rule. That said, it's beyond me why someone from the city government would decide to enforce this rule on a FB page, unless it's being heavily monetized.

The only time he mentions article 7 is that "every derivation of the name is implied, including every abbreviation of the word Sarajevo." So okay, article 7 doesn't apply to a non-monetised blog post. The other articles in "Komisija za Statut I akte" still do, right?

But okay, so implicitly you're suggesting OP has widened the scope, because it seems like a FB page being monetised could be considered a "product name", and therefore article 7 does apply, and this is the basis of the legal threat. That being so, where does the demand for money come in? Is that the cost of being granted to use the name? And what exactly is stopping the city from going after things not covered by article 7?

Any law is that vague and wide-reaching has the potential to be abused, and this is no different. Better to clarify it sooner rather than later.

Article 4 defines that usage of coat of arms of Sarajevo in the stamp may be granted to private businesses, public companies, public institutions and other legal entities. Article 5 defines that usage of coat of arms of Sarajevo on public transportation vehicles, fleet vehicles, billboards, brochures and other advertising materials may be granted to the said group of legal entities. Article 6 defines that the usage of coat of arms on logos and decorations may be granted to the said group of legal entities. The annual fees for legal entities using the name and/or coat of arms of Sarajevo depend on the entity size and are defined in Article 17 (50-2400 Euros).

This Decision fails to define any terms of usage of coat of arms and name for natural persons. Natural persons are only mentioned in Articles 21 in 22, stating the penalties for the usage of name and/or coat of arms without a proper approval from the city government.

Again, not a lawyer, but in my view anything except the usage of name Sarajevo and its coat of arms in the names of legal entities and their products, stamps and logos is outside of scope this Decision. Purely speculating, but perhaps somebody from the city government decided it is time to optimise a revenue stream, which is now 12 years old (the Decision was published in 2006). If they continue harassing people on the Internet, there is going to be more of a coordinated backlash and sooner or later they will have to amend the Decision.

Thanks, appreciate the clarifications.

This law clearly would not be enforceable in the the US (you can’t start trying to enforce a trademark that you haven’t been defending and that is in wide use).

Having said that, there is recent precedent where FB differentially enforces foreign laws, apparently for their own political/financial reasons.

For example, Palestinian political speech about Israeal is subject to much harsher censorship rules than Israeli speech about Palestine.

So, this case really boils down to how much FB values its political/financial ties to the city of Sarajevo.

Hello Aleksandar, I hope you live somewhere Sarajevo's rule does not apply (e.g. anywhere else on this planet) and that you just happened to write this while just visiting there.

Stay safe and well!

Why? A city (or a country for that matter) can be a beautiful place to live despites the brain damaged administration it might have

Physical safety

In the chaos, speaking up is not that hard.

I was the first local to talk about certain government entities in Bosnia & Herzegovina buying FinFisher software. I was the first to talk about the government testing Hacking Team software as well. Later on, I've worked on Panama Papers. And now, I wrote this.

I am also far from laying low, as I have been a guest in two TV shows talking about my line of interest in the last two years (one for the local TV station in <REDACTED>, one on Al Jazeera Balkans, that aired to the entire country + Serbia and Croatia), and asked some tricky questions to the government representatives multiple times in open panels.

The point that I'm trying to make is that I'm pretty sure I've pissed off some part of the country's government multiple (if not dozens of) times. And while I do take a higher level of precaution compared to the average Joe (VPNs, Tor, Signal etc.), I have so far not received any legal complaint, nor have I ever felt threatened.

Checkout the button at the bottom too. It uncensors the whole article.

Hacking is illegal in many jurisdictions.

/sarc <--- about what was clearly not hacking.

The "and" is probably a large error, "legal and public" would be excluded, meaning public companies - who are probably the target of the law - in theory are not affected.

Whether that matters depends on the legal background in B&H, similar errors in UK law have proved costly in the past.

I believe that the GP is referring to the other "and", the one here: "the emblem and the name of the City of Sarajevo".

It's possible that "public" could also mean areas controlled by the state [1], in contrast to the "private sector".

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_sector

It's translated so you can't draw that conclusion from the text. But I think it is likely that it only protects the emblem, or the name when used in conjunction with the emblem.

> Since I am unfamiliar with such a dumb court verdict from the US, I assume that I am free to show you the photo of the State of Liberty during the night.

FWIW, in the US, all photos taken from public property are legal. Also, a photo of a building can't violate the building's copyright. Building another building that looks like it can, but taking a photo of it can't.


To all budding photographers out there, I highly suggest buying Bert’s book on what your rights are ( in the US ) while taking photos.

His web site also has a PDF you can print out and keep with you in your bag for the inevitable interaction with LEOs.

My general recollection is in the US if you can see it, you can legally take a photo of it. The major exceptions are nuclear weapons bases where they will shoot first and ask questions later, highly restricted sites like Groom Lake, and taking photos of people in their own home-you enter into peeping laws there because even if the shades are open, they have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their domicile.

That doesn't mean you won't have be harassed by the law: https://www.wired.com/2014/07/five-sue-gov-over-targeting/

Yes, the War on Photographers has been in full swing since 9/11.

The link in my comment above has a 1-page printable pdf specifically for the purposes of taking with you and educating any security or police who try to harass you.

> in the US, all photos taken from public property are legal.

This is a tremendous oversimplification. For just one example, you can't use a telephoto lens to survey private property.

This is an oversimplification as well. You can use the telephoto lens if the subject has no reasonable expectation of privacy. For example, imagine a privately-owned soccer field that is visible/accessible to everyone. You could stand on a neighboring (public) hill and use a telephoto lens to photograph the players. You could not stand on that same hill and use the telephoto to peer into someone's 5th floor window -- different expectation of privacy.

Which is wrong, because of Trademark law you are not allowed to publish images of certain buildings from the US either, if that building is the main/dominating subject of the image. Among of those are the Empire State Building, the Chrysler building, and others.

A photo being legal to take doesn't necessarily mean it's legal to publish, or eg to sell.

US copyright code explicitly says photos of public views of buildings are legal for all uses.

I knew there was a general allowance on taking "photos from the street", can you cite the USC for me.

Is there not even restrictions on military bases?

I think this is what they were referring to:

17 U.S. Code § 120(a): "The copyright in an architectural work that has been constructed does not include the right to prevent the making, distributing, or public display of pictures, paintings, photographs, or other pictorial representations of the work, if the building in which the work is embodied is located in or ordinarily visible from a public place."


There is, however, an exception for secret military installations in 18 U.S. Code § 795: "[...] certain vital military and naval installations or equipment as requiring protection against the general dissemination of information relative thereto, it shall be unlawful to make any photograph [...]"


In general this is called "freedom of panorama", and applies to lack of copyright protections [1]. Jurisdictions that has freedom of panorama will still often have national security provisions restricting specific views.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_panorama

That only applies to copyright. Another commenter claims that some buildings have trademark protection.

Coke are famous for claiming copyright on photos of their bottle.

That happens because the bottle is a trademark itself

That makes no sense - trademark and copyright are totally different things.

There's an exception in US copyright for photos of buildings. However, it doesn't apply to sculptures or other works of art.

Many countries have such an exception, and it often also applies to sculptures permanently located in a public place.

Legal and private entities that use the emblem and the name of the City of Sarajevo without the permission to do so from the regulatory body

Author needs to learn the difference between 'use' and 'mention'. 'Use' means to exploit for commercial purposes, eg by operating a company called 'Sarajevo tours' or selling 'Sarajevo salad'. You don't need permission just to say you live and work in Sarajevo.

Remember folks, 'statutory interpretation' doesn't mean every conceivable reading of a legal text is valid. Generally you should consult a legal dictionary in your jurisdiction of interest to discover how common vocabulary is construed for legal purposes, because it often differs from what people imagine.

Maybe Sarevejo should have considered how people will interpret their dumb law before they made it. Can you imagine not being able to name your business “Sarajevo bed and Breakfast” or something like that?

It’s like they are actively trying to suppress tourism....

Yeah, I can imagine it. Perhaps their experience was that people selling inferior services by trying to freeride on the name were actually hurting tourism. You appear to have assumed your conclusion.

There isn't a city in the world that doesn't have hundreds of businesses that incorporate the cities name in the business name. It's often done as a point of pride in their city by the business owner. Ever heard of the "Chicago Cubs"? How about "Portland Cement"?

None of which is responsive to the point I made. Bye.

I understand discussions where you realize you've taken a wrong position can be uncomfortable, so I won't bother you any more other than to say I addressed exactly your points.

Regarding copyright on photos of the Eiffel Tower at night due to the arrangement of the lights...

It would be interesting to take a photo of the Eiffel Tower by day, and then

- apply style transfer to turn it into a photo by night (which would, I suspect exclude any lights)

- train a (second) neural network to predict the positions of lights on a night-time photos of various buildings (ensuring that all buildings/light arrangements in your dataset predated the Eiffel Tower's lights).

I suspect that you could end up with images close to the real Eiffel Tower - at least close enough for it to be aesthetically pleasing and recognisable as the Eiffel Tower.

What would the copyright position on this be? IANAL, but it seems as though either

- the lights are not exactly correct, and so this (manipulated) photo isn't covered by the copyright on the lights on the Eiffel Tower or

- the lights are correct (or close enough), and so the lights on the Eiffel Tower are in the obvious places (given that a ML algorithm could predict them) - in that case, is there enough creativity in the arrangement for copyright to have been granted.


(I'm sure I'll never find enough time to actually do this - the style transfer is trivial, but finding a suitable dataset of photos of other buildings of a suitable era by night is probably too much work! :( )

Haha 1) this is crazy 2) I think it'd be more fun to train the data set against Christmas trees. The Eiffel tower's lights don't much resemble other buildings since the lighting is decorative and not functional. Much closer to a Christmas tree ;-)

This kind of logic when applied to law is debunked in the widely circulated essay "What Colour are your bits?": http://ansuz.sooke.bc.ca/entry/23.

Short answer: the law sees right through trickery like this, focusing on your intent instead.

Interesting - thanks for the link, but I'm not sure my question is actually "debunked" by that article.

I outlined two possible scenarios: either

- the lights are not exactly correct, and so this (manipulated) photo isn't covered by the copyright on the lights on the Eiffel Tower or

- the lights are correct (or close enough), and so the lights on the Eiffel Tower are in the obvious places (given that a ML algorithm could predict them) - in that case, is there enough creativity in the arrangement for copyright to have been granted.

I think you're right that, in the second case (which the article addresses) copyright would back the original creator - the "but ML predicted them so there was no creativity" argument is probably pretty weak. (It's also different from the idea laid out in the article you linked to - in that case, the recreator of 4'33" was very prescriptive about what they were creating.)

However, in the first case, I don't see how the law "sees through trickery" - I don't think there is trickery going on. My intent is to create a plausible-looking image of the Eiffel Tower at night (e.g. to illustrate an article on it). It doesn't matter whether the lights are in the right place - I'm not using it to discuss the lights.

As someone else commented (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16198190), the photo of the Statue of Liberty in the article is not actually the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island in Manhattan - it's actually in Tokyo. However, as a casual reader, I see the photo and recognize it (incorrectly, as it turns out), which is all the author needs to make his point.

> It doesn't matter whether the lights are in the right place - I'm not using it to discuss the lights.

It doesn't matter that you managed to find a way to create a photo that looks like the Eiffel Tower at night by not actually taking a picture. Your goal was to make a picture that looks like the copyrighted thing. Therefore, you effectively copied it. That it's a poor copy doesn't stop it being a copy.

Put this another way. Let's say I ran a random number generator until I had an exact bit-for-bit copy of a JPEG that is a copyrighted image. Did I copy it? I think the essay establishes that I did, because that was my goal. The process of stopping only when I had an exact bit-for-bit copy will have made it a copy in a judge's eyes.

What if I stopped when, rather than being a bit-for-bit copy, it was "good enough"? I don't see that this would make it any different.

What if I used something more intelligent than a random number generator to increase the chances of me getting the desired result sooner? I don't see how that would make it any different.

Conclusion: how, technically, you come up with the result doesn't matter. If your goal was to come up with something that looks like it, and you stop when you have something that resembles it (doesn't matter if the match is good or bad), you will be deemed to have copied it.

Thanks - interesting!

So, let's imagine that the Statue of Liberty in Manhattan was copyright, such that you couldn't take (or at least benefit commercially from photos) of it...

The author of the original article used a photo of a very similar statue, but one that is based in Tokyo. I don't know whether they're identical, but let's assume not, and that there is no similar copyright.

(I appreciate this is very hypothetical, but so was your "let's say I ran a random number generator" argument.)

The author of the original article used a photo of the Tokyo statue with the intention that readers would interpret it as the Manhattan statue.

Would the author be deemed to have infringed the copyright on the Manhattan statue?

By your "if your goal was to come up with something that looks like it, and you stop when you have something that resembles it (doesn't matter if the match is good or bad), you will be deemed to have copied it" definition, it seems they would.

> Would the author be deemed to have infringed the copyright on the Manhattan statue?

Possibly. You hit the nail on the head when you say "with the intention that readers would interpret it as the Manhattan statue". It's all about the court's interpretation of the intent of the parties involved.

I don't think anyone can predict what a court would decide. Perhaps the court would say that because any statue would have done, and what the reader interpreted it as was immaterial to the content of the article, it wasn't an infringement. I wouldn't be at all surprised if this is what would happen.

All I'm saying is that if you try to "work around" copyright using "parallel reconstruction", the courts are entirely able to see through this if they so wish. The courts are never going to say "you got us there". I'm not making any claim as to whether they actually will or not in a particular hypothetical case, since that depends on the circumstances of the court's interpretation of the bigger picture (intent, appropriate interpretation of the law, etc), which is far more subjective.

This is an abuse of machine learning. Amy algorithm can be tweaked to achieve the intended result, even if you limit the dataset to buildings before the Eiffel tower had lights. It always comes back to a human.

I think that's exactly the point he's making. There's only so many sensible ways one could decoratively light the Eiffel tower, and OP is suggesting that machine learning could generate it artificially.

If that's possible, is there really anything that is non-obvious and copyright-able? If it can't be done, the manipulated photo cannot be held accountable for copyright violations (but it certainly would look like it ought to). The fact that it can come down to something any human can optimize for only makes the law surrounding the copyright of a public display on a building even more absurd.

Well, of course a human could have come up with the light scheme. Anything copyrighted by definition has to have human involvement (cf. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monkey_selfie_copyright_disput...) The whole point of IP protections is that you were the FIRST human to come up with it. And now we are in a whole different conversation: does it matter that you were the first?

Sarajevo. There, sue me for infringement.

Of course this is not the way it works. I can mention Décathlon and Microsoft even though they are registered trademarks. I can post a picture of the Apple logo when illustrating Apple stuff.

There are things I cannot do (like using them as if they were mine) but mentioning the name is not a problem.

So Sarajevo FTW.

As a side note about the requests from the city of Sarajevo (sorry) to pay for the use of the city : they certainly should protect misuse (false documents for instance) and possibly (though I disagree) commercial use of the name. This is quite common, though enforced to various degrees (usually not, after a few cases which went wrong, for instance in Krakow, Poland).

Fair use will prevail, though this is a real pity we need to come to that

Except this is not trademark law, so there's no "fair use" unless it specifies so.

Yes, they set a local law but still try to enforce it abroad (by requesting things with Facebook).

They could go the trademark way (which then may be enforceable in a commercial context) and would be subject to fair use.

If they've written some wacky clause into the law in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it isn't going to affect you unless you live in that country. I assume they can't extradite you over it.

Edit: You wouldn't want to visit that country, naturally, after flouting their laws like that.

I will have that in mind :)

The meat of the article comes from the fact that certain facebook pages were sent some form of 'cease and desist request' by officials of the Sarajevo city council. Later, we learn that things got resolved for these facebook pages.

What if these requests were just a clever scammer, trying to get some money? That seems to make more sense to me than a city council being so obtuse as to request payment for use of its name.

Over here in Germany some city administrations won't do such things for money, but to make sure that this is not seen as an official page where false information is spread. Finding the right balance can be hard. I would assume it's the same over there, rather than actually trying to get money.

When people look to Facebook as the official channel for anything, there's already a problem.

People look to Facebook as the effective channel for anything. Unofficial fanpages of stuff are usually significantly more informative and up-to-date than official ones.

Example from my city - the best way to find about problems with public transport (e.g. a tram had an accident and blocked off an entire route in both directions) is through an unofficial Facebook fanpage.

Wouldn’t it be simpler to ask the pages to politely put in a disclaimer saying they are not affiliated with the government rather than threatening damages or shutdown?

A cease & desist is a lawyer's way of "asking politely", the alternative being a lawsuit.

Agreed. Or by the same metrics I could make a fake website for my bank and put a one line disclaimer in the about page. That wouldn't be right.

And yet your bank doesn't need a special law regulating the use of its name. We already have laws against fraud, which cover such misleading cases. This is much more broad.

The city of the story doesn't need a special law either.

Yet, apparently, it has one.

> What if these requests were just a clever scammer, trying to get some money?

Yeah, I thought the same at first.

However, in that same Facebook status I've quoted, the author claims that he actually went to the city government before the issue got resolved, so I took that as a verification that "Jon Doe" is actually from the city's government.

In addition to that, you can see that the Mayor's office is located at that exact address mentioned in the Facebook message to the owner of the Facebook page: http://sarajevo.ba/gradska-administracija/gradska-uprava/

Wouldn't going to the city government resolve the issue by clearing up the original request was fraudulent? That's part of why I figured it might've been a scam. To speculate even more, the 'I can't say much more' from the FB page owner might be due to a criminal investigation.

But there's actual law for the cease and desist, and the meat is that he's saying that law is ridiculous...

Unfortunately, Democracy/Freedom isn't full developed in this part of the world. Feel free to downvote, but politically speaking, there are still many open wounds, and unresolved issue, issues in this region of Former Yugoslavia. Unfortunately they were caught in the middle of a cold-war-political-game and this is one of the outcomes.

I don't think that local authority has any objection that Sarajevo can be named in a blog post. I think it is to prevent other political forces from making claims (founded or otherwise) and it's Alexander (in this case) is caught in the middle of this ....storm.

Which part of the world as Democracy/Freedom fully developed? The Eiffel Tower and the US NY Port Authority have similar IP restraints.

I think that such a legal paragraph is quite common. It prevents other entities to mimic official documents and pretend they represent the city. I am pretty sure, you can use the city name as location any time you want.

On the other hand: There have been stranger things :)

PS: Not a lawyer

>It prevents

No it doesn't. In any way.

So... that picture of the Statue of Liberty is actually one of a copy in Tokyo. The bridge is the Rainbow Bridge, not one in New York. We also don't have a copy of the Eiffel Tower in New York, nor do we put the anti-collision lights on top of buildings like they do in Tokyo.


But we'll always have Vegas.....

https://www.google.com/search? q=vegas+paris+eiffel+tower&source=lnms&tbm=isch

Well I have a much stupider example. English Heritage (now Natural England I think) decided they owned the rights to Stonehenge[0] 3-4000 years after the architects demise. It seems they realised their error once it had been splashed across the front pages....


> stupider example

The EU side of the Euro is copyrighted, with a permissions grant that prohibits disparaging use. So nice closeups of Euro coins get removed from Wikicommons (as not freely reusable), and are yet-another-license pain to use in OER education content.

Related: the story of the owners of Bully Hill Vineyards in New York State, who are legally enjoined from using their last name on their product. They founded another wine company under their name originally and sold it to Coca-Cola, you see...

Wikipedia, since it appears their website's cert is just out of date: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bully_Hill_Vineyards

Their side of the story, if you feel up for temporary security exceptions: https://www.bullyhillvineyards.com/about/heritage/

This is excellent: > During Prohibition the winery sold grape juice in small wooden barrels. A label was placed on the barrel giving explicit instructions on how the juice would turn into wine if precautions weren't taken.

You might be misinterpreting the law. Not sure for that case, but it's pretty standard (in this part of the world) that you can't use city or state name in commercial purposes (as a part of the name of the business or a product) without entity permission.

edit: also pages/domains that could be seen as representing the city can get notices about name usage. Domains, iirc, can be claimed for this reason by city.

It's kinda common sense, using city name, for some people, might be seen as representing the city, so any posts made by the page might damage the city public image etc.

edit 2: added note about part of the world

edit 3: moving this from reply

> I live in neighboring country, when you're starting a business you can't have city or state name in business name without permission. Also using domains that have city or state name included might get you in some trouble.

> Probably more usual in this part of the world.

Adding: since both our countries still have a lot of laws from communist era, there's all kind of crazy ideas pushed through laws.

I'm not sure what you mean by pretty standard, but it's literally the opposite of pretty standard. How many little place have the city they're in in their name? I could probably find dozens for Pittsburgh without much effort.

Edit: I a actually had a company with my state's name at one point, registered in said state with no issue.

I live in neighboring country, when you're starting a business you can't have city or state name in business name without permission. Also using domains that have city or state name included might get you in some trouble.

Probably more usual in this part of the world.

Did you just assume parent's location in the world, after the OP and the parent both they strongly implied that it wasn't anywhere near Pittsburgh?

No, I was saying that it is not "pretty standard" as there are large portions of the world where it's not true.

A company name in Britain has some limitations, on words like Royal, England, Council, Chartered. But I don't see any restrictions with place names, except the country names.


In UK and EU law, it's the opposite: Geographical names are expressly excluded from TM rights, unless there's significant reason that they should be protected. Even then, it's only protected to the extent that its use causes trade confusion.

No. No intellectual property that works that way. Not patents, not copyright, not trademark, not trade secrets. The closest is ridiculous anti-dilution law for trademark, but trademarking a city/state name is generally a nonstarter.

At least in that area of the world - could I not write a fiction (or non-fiction) book about the state/city without permission?

Sure you could :) There are many.

Oh man, now I'll think twice before I try to correct someone's spelling: https://www.reddit.com/r/pics/comments/3yncb0/the_beauty_of_...

Probably thrice since that looks like a pun. "Jebo" means "fuck" in the local language.

Not necessarily. Confusing v and b is a quite common mistake: they are next to each other on the qwerty layout and many languages (such as Spanish) don't differentiate the sound of b and v.

The author didn't mention it, but another stupid example of this in the US is the Hollywood Sign. You can't shoot pictures or video of the sign without permission.

This video by Tom Scott goes into detail: https://youtu.be/KUdQ7gxU6Rg

You can shoot pictures and videos. You just can't use them for commercial purposes.

EDIT: forgot the reference: https://web.archive.org/web/20100510105723/http://www.hollyw...

Selecting the black blotches reveals the name. Should be using FULL BLOCK. HN doesn't allow me to include it in this comment


Of course, this comment could be seen as commentary on laws against accessing insecure intended-to-be-secret data. Blame not the author, but me, for they obviously intended the name to be omitted, & I trespassed their security when I selected the text. Lock me up

Clicking the button at the end of the article reveals the name. It's 100% intentional.

Yes, completely intentional.

The idea is that the city's name is hidden by default, but very easy to discover if you decide to do so. So you can highlight the text, click on the button at the bottom of the page, or go to the linked Wikipedia pages in the first paragraph to reveal the name of the city.

Hmm. I wonder if companies named after the municipalities they've been founded it have ever needed to deal with this kind of thing from their municipal councils.

Such names exist in many countries. Off the top of my head, I can think of Nokia (Finland, telecom equipment), Emmaljunga (Sweden, prams) and Gorenje (Slovenia, kitchen appliances).

In Finland, University of Helsinki owns helsinki.fi and City of Helsinki owns hel.fi. For a while, the city was apparently pressuring the university to have links to city stuff on the helsinki.fi front page, but it seems that now the front page is all university stuff again.

Gorenje was founded while former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was in blooming, it was a thing to call factories by city names, so there's that.

Hmm. Type "flights to SJJ" into your favorite search engine and watch it break this law.

A while ago I needed to talk to a lawyer at MIT about making a derivative work of a chunk of software published, by MIT, under the MIT FOSS license. They were clear that I was free to mention the Institute's name, as long as it was clear to a reasonable reader that I was not claiming their endorsement.

I suppose a municipality might want to be able to avoid confusing the public with spoofs. It's not hard to believe a scammer could send out fake municipal water bills. They need a way to shut that down. But claiming copyright in the city's name seems clumsy.

Plus, the name is important. You really wanna have people calling it TCFKAS? (after the ASCII rendering of Prince's name, TAFKAP, during his dispute with his label.)

I'm that part of the world so I will give you some background.

He was using both name city of Sarajevo and using emblem of the city on his Facebook page. And since situation there is kinda tricky it is not interest of anybody living in the city and want to ensure peace and p... (ok - just peace - prosperity needs to wait for the next century) to have any 3rd-party representing the city.

I'm not sure what he was doing on his Facebook page but he might one one of the guys saying: "hey lets start the war again ...". Or might not. This was a move by politicians: maybe stupid. Maybe based on fear of another war. It is complicated.

The Iain M Banks novel Against a Dark Background has a throwaway mention of a region called Regionner with capital city Capitaller, the true name having being obscured by a centuries-spanning all-consuming litigation.

There are many various restrictions on the use of photos of landmarks / building - couple of them here: https://www.shutterstock.com/blog/contributor-resources/lega...

It also states that "Images depicting the [Eiffel] Tower’s lighting design are unacceptable for commercial use" ... which I think is fair.

As humans we could de facto rename Sarajevo to something more representative of its new policy.

But does the city actually have the authority to put such restrictions? Of course they can say and claim anything, but would it actually stand in courts? What about internationally, is there some agreement that applies?

Reminds me of the idiocy about not being able to use the name Superbowl, because it's trademarked. Leading to all kinds of businesses referring to it in roundabout terms like "the big game"

As long as laws and rules like this exists, they will get abused.

The click baity title is mildly infuriating

Call it something else. Then when the city complains tell them it’s because you can’t use the name in writing.

Totally incorrect for most western nations. Google "nomitave use".

Is Bosnia a western nation?

The name is visible on one of the images (from a Facebook screencap)

Thank you for spotting that!

I was so obsessed with the actual conversation that I have forgot to check other sources in the screenshot. I have pushed a change that makes those two occurrences censored.

But Wikipedia has no problems writing Sarajevo. Why is that?

What a moronic idea to copyright buildings scenery.

Couple of things, I'm not a lawyer but I follow IP law and have worked in related fields, this is not legal advice:

The statute he cites says that a person under that law would be required to pay for _damages_ to Sarajevo for use of its name. A blog post is almost certainly not going to create any damages. Also as it's a local ordinance it probably applies only if you are in that city when you write.

>I was already aware that I can’t show you the mascot of those Winter Olympics games, since doing so would be a copyright violation //

He can probably _report_ on it. It's not the EU per se, most copyright goes back to the Berne convention, which leaves some areas open for national variances. Yugoslavia was signatory to that prior to the EU existing, and then there's UCC, TRIPS neither of which rely on EU in any way.

Now, the Olympic Committees are known for abusing IP law, they'll sue you for even an allowed usage of mascots and word marks (ie textual trademarks). That's because most people would rather not risk going to court, and most people don't know IP law well enough to be certain they have an allowed use.

>So, until the architect who designed the building dies and additional 70 years go by //

As he later points out that is a misunderstanding. The building is not the issue, the light display is being considered an artistic work, it's the creator of the light display who owns the relevant copyright here. I don't know French law, but most arrangements of lights would fail at being sufficiently creative to acquire copyright. And of course there are usually exclusions for reporting, as the blogger is doing.

In UK we have Fair Dealing which is extremely restrictive, I'd expect France to have something closer to the much more liberal USA Fair Use in which usually being non-commercial makes copying allowed (though the definition of commercial is nuanced, is not just selling; and being commercial isn't necessarily _not_ Fair Use).

Something I don't know about is how French law would apply, assuming this guy is in Bosnia & Herzegovina, it seems their local law about not showing this "[art]work" shouldn't restrict him?

Also, if he writes privately and has his work published elsewhere, eg on a USA based server, it seems like he should be protected by USA Fair Use laws!?

IMO governments need to have some way to address the chilling effect of being sued for legal activities. A company knowingly operating in this way should have all state IP protections cancelled.


Also, really? Hope this is a misunderstanding...

Let me say it too! Sarajevo.

It seems the world has gone full circle and somehow we have ended up back in an authoritarian dystopia, this time one “we” ironically built and enforced ourselves.

How so? This seems to be plain-old legal censorship.

Censorship is an authoritarian tool. It used to be carried out by the might of the sword and now it's enforced by the full weight of the law, hence the "legal censorship" as you put it.

Right, but legal censorship has been around for thousands of years. I don't see the full circle you're talking about - it's more of the same.

Perfect idiocracy is coming close...

Flagged article, headline is a lie and article is intentionally misleading.

Sometimes you have the feeling that copyright laws are made by grown-ups who want to use the law so that the other kids don't copycat them...

Is there a part of this blog post where the author isn't whining about something?

It’s Sarajevo and this blog post is about the only thing I can find on this with quick google searches, and you said it yourself that you’re not a lawyer, so I really think you’re just misunderstanding something and are making a big deal out of nothing.

I'd agree with you if this was only interpretation of the law. However, the city council actually took steps to contact the administrators of various Facebook pages with the request to pay for the name.

I think you didn't read the article. It basically the city using the same dumb line of thought as Paris copyrighting the Eiffel Tower at night.

The author shows that the city even threatened a Facebook group. So yes this is a dumb ownership claim by the city.

Regulating speech is a very big deal, including when people or companies fabricate property rights they don't have. Most people, when confronted with strong language asserting such rights, will comply with it -- as you say, they're not lawyers, so how should they know which legalese is and isn't valid? This stifles full usage of the common good of ideas.

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