Before I go off on my latest rant, I want to reassure all of my loyal readers that I have started the writing process for my incredibly fascinating article on kudzu. No, not the Sunday comic, but the actual plant Doug Marlette used as a metaphor for the South. Truth is, I knew the plant had a lot of potential, but the oriental world, especially Japan, knew the medicinal and nutritional benefits of this incredible and tenacious plant many years before it was introduced here.
So, look for that article to be here just after Thanksgiving.
Has anyone seen the movie Up? It is a sweet movie about a little kid and an old curmudgeon who are having an adventure together. They have a dog and end up crashing in a remote area with a mad genius who has invented a translator for dogs. Now, at last, the people in the movie can talk with their best friends. The only problem is that the dogs have ADD and easily become distracted by things. This trait is exemplified when the boy’s dog is relating some important information and a squirrel flits by and the dog says, “Squirrel!” and the thread of the conversation is lost.
Well, that same squirrel jumped onto my keyboard and ran off with my attention. Here is what happened. It turns out that a really big hotel chain is sponsoring a food and hunger awareness program. It is program that has gone for about 4 or five years, and has a whole bunch of participants. When I learned about this the other week, I was impressed and thought that some of the big corporate enterprises may have a clue and were willing to help those less fortunate than US to get food on their tables. “Cool,” I thought, “Now some of these companies have a clue.”
The chain is doing an outreach to local school systems by educating the kids on the harsh realities that some other countries and, unfortunately some in our very close neighborhoods, live under. The program seems to culminate on the 10th of December with a non perishable food drive. I know what it is like to be hungry and am finally in a place where I can afford to give some canned food and other food stuffs for the cause, so of course, we will give.
Like I mentioned earlier, I did not know about the program until the other day, I think the notice was sent home on the 8th of the month. Attached to the notification was a publicity release. The Runtyun and I recently moved and I have not had a chance to read the document until tonight as I was unpacking yet another of the endless boxes. (Just a quickie on how I am unpacking the paperwork; I have to look at each individual piece of paper and decide whether or not to keep it or use it for fire starter.) This release caught my attention and I read it. As I looked at this document, my incredulity just kept growing. I am a little surprised that the writers of the release did not want me to rent my daughter to them as an advertisement to the company’s social ethos, but then I realized they would have to pay a fee for that and of course that is out of the question.
It stated any images and audio or video taken during any of the events would be the exclusive property of the hotel company. It also seemed to imply any pictures, audio or video taken by a private person would also be the property of the company. So I could not take pictures of the Runtyun and print them because I would be breaking copy right law. More importantly, to my pocket-book was the statement saying that they could gain monetary benefits, but any monies earned would be to the exclusive benefit of the company; I, or the Runtyun could gain nothing. They would also gain the goodwill of those seeing the wonderful things they are doing for society on the backs of the volunteer network they established. There were so many other restrictions and liabilities in the release I cannot even restate them here. ( I wonder if that would be a breach of copy right law too?) It was a one and a half page document and every sentence stated some kind of stipulation or restriction. It seemed like I could not even use any images of my daughter for Christmas cards.
While I understand that a company needs to protect itself from nefarious deeds of those that want to take advantage of the good-hearted deeds they do, I do not understand why I should be liable for, or why I cannot use images taken by me during this event — even on my blog, or in any other form. In both the long run and in the near future, the company will gain from the program they have sponsored and the good will they will produce. And mostly I do not understand why I should be liable for any bad publicity or legal fees that may come as a result of misuse of these pictures.
There is no doubt the company should get some recognition for their of awareness for the needs of those less fortunate, but it seems that those who participated in the program are being punished. After all, it is through the efforts of these very people with whom the company can help donate very needed food to those that need it.
We will participate in the food rally on the 10th of December, and we will bring food. We probably have our pictures taken, but there will not be a signed the release allowing the company to use her pictures in any way. Is that selfish, or spiteful? Maybe. But I feel the restrictions and underlying motivations behind all the restrictions are as much motivated by corporate greed as a desire to do a good deed. And if that is the case, why should the company get positive press excluding those who made it possible?