Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Tease Us All You Like, Says the New York Times. But Hands Off Our Font!

Want to devote an entire Twitter feed, Facebook page and Tumblr account to poking fun at the New York Times? That’s just fine with us, says the Paper of Record.

Just don’t mess with our font.

The publisher has lodged a complaint with Twitter against Benjamin Kabak, who runs the “@NYTOnIt” account, which is dedicated to calling out stories Kabak deems overly obvious.

The logo for the account is the Times distinctive “T,” along with … I’m not quite sure. A beret?

Now Twitter has suspended the account, but Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said that’s not what the paper wanted: “We’re not seeking to disable the account, however, it is important to The Times that our copyright is protected and that it is clear to all users of Twitter that parody accounts or other unofficial Times accounts are not affiliated nor endorsed by The Times.”

So what does protecting the Times’ copyright mean in this case? Via email, I asked Murphy to clarify. Her response: “The use of our trademarked logo is of most concern. We would also like the account labeled unofficial per Twitter’s rules.”

(Update: Murphy also says, via email, that she should have written “trademark” instead of “copyright” in her initial statement.)

You can argue that the Times shouldn’t spend time complaining about a Twitter account, but you can’t argue that they’re being inconsistent.

This isn’t the first time the paper has gone after people who have appropriated the T: Back in 2009, the Times’ legal team sent Michael Wolff’s Newser (remember Newser?) a grouchy letter or two about the same topic — along with the fact that Newser was using its photography without permission.

Now Newser doesn’t use the T. And Kabak, via Facebook, says he’ll “remove the materials [the Times] claim are problematic.”

And we’ll probably see a replay of this within the next three years, when someone else makes the mistake of tweaking the Times and using its logo at the same time.

Update 2: Twitter PR offers standard boilerplate: “We don’t comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons.”

Update 3: And now the @NYTOnIt account is back up, sans T. Kabak said he’ll have a contest to find a new logo.


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— Gitesh Pandya of comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”