Join 3,496 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


:(
April 13, 2001 5:13 AM   Subscribe

:( Harvey Ball, creator of the smiley face died yesterday. He was paid $45 for designing it for an insurance company. Neither he nor the insurance company bothered to copyright it, and the rest is history.
posted by dchase (16 comments total)

 
You MUST check out the Smiley Face Song, the official theme song of the World Smile Corporation, sponsors of World Smile Day.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:43 AM on April 13, 2001


I'm not sure to what extent you could copyright : )
posted by ParisParamus at 8:00 AM on April 13, 2001


Paris Paramus: He didn't invent the emoticon, he invented the big yellow circle with the two eyes and the mouth.
posted by MarkAnd at 8:13 AM on April 13, 2001


Hmm, replace "invent" with "create"
posted by MarkAnd at 8:13 AM on April 13, 2001


You'll recall that Despair.com recently "copyrighted" :-(
posted by briank at 8:26 AM on April 13, 2001


I think that despair thing is a joke, right? In any case, it was a great PR move.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:49 AM on April 13, 2001


Yes, it was a joke.
posted by briank at 8:50 AM on April 13, 2001


It may have been a joke, but it does happen to be a real trademark.

Also note that these are things that are TRADEMARKED and not COPYRIGHTED. Similar but not the same. Big differences in the way the law is applied. You would probably have trouble copyrighting a two-character work, but you can certainly trademark it ... as Despair proved. Why do half the people on the net get this wrong again and again?
posted by dhartung at 9:17 AM on April 13, 2001


For what it's worth, :- ( is arguably a lot more protectable than just : ) or : (. But I suspect no one will ever spend the $ to prosecute or defend ownership.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:25 AM on April 13, 2001


[dhartung]: Why do half the people on the net get this wrong again and again?

I think it's more than half, and I doubt it's just people on the net.

We get it wrong because it's confusing. And, as you point out, they are similar. And likely because for most of us, they rarely have any relevance to our personal lives. I see at the bottom of MetaFilter that all my posts are copyrighted by me, but really, I'm confident that this will never be an issue.

You might as well ask, Why do half the people on the net get the Uncertainty Principle wrong again and again?
posted by Skot at 9:36 AM on April 13, 2001


And, for what it's worth, the "original" smiley face; that *particular* arrangement of the eyes and mouth, of those sizes and with those serifs, in yellow, is artwork, and could in fact be copyrighted, which is *not* true of the emoticon.

And hey, Skot: stop picking on me. :-)
posted by baylink at 10:23 AM on April 13, 2001


Oh, and kudos to dchase for the best lead of the week.
posted by baylink at 10:25 AM on April 13, 2001


run: autoexe.stalk.baylink.pounce ;)
posted by Skot at 11:39 AM on April 13, 2001


You know what all this really means.. Forrest Gump was only partially true.
posted by mikeyb at 5:53 PM on April 13, 2001


:-(
posted by rodii at 8:17 PM on April 13, 2001


Love that lil' smiley face. It evokes (for me) almost entirely positive images of the 60s/70s (free speech, early disco, rise of consumerism) with few, if any, of the negative aspects (drugs, Beatles, etc). Yes, I'm serious.
posted by davidmsc at 9:34 PM on April 13, 2001


« Older possible treatment ...  |  Steve Buscemi and Vince Vaughn... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments