13 January 2009

SAP True to its Name

What is going through the mind of SAP? These people are *promoting* your products:

Business Objects claims that no one can use a Crystal Reports screenshot in a book without their approval. They sent letters to courseware vendors (including me) telling use that we need to get permission to use screenshots in our books. Most vendors ignored those letters and nothing more was said in the three years since. Now it appears that more letters are going out from SAP (who now owns Business Objects). I read one of the letters this past week and it talks about screenshots and adds a new warning about using SAP trademarks like the term “Crystal Reports”. The letter was very impressive, with majestic references to various sections of US copyright and trademark law. Sprinkled throughout the letter was the Latin incantation “inter alia” to make it seem almost pontifical. It sounded so ominous that it brought to mind the blustering Wizard of Oz (”ignore the little man behind the curtain”).

As I explained in 2005, using screenshots of a software product in a book is a “fair use” of a copyrighted work (see Sony vs Bleem). And there are also several clear cases to show that “nominal” use of a trademark word or phrase is fine for any purpose at all, so long as you are not claiming to be affiliated with or authorized by the trademark holder (see Volkswagen vs Church).

(Via Techdirt.)

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