Update 10:43 a.m.: Put down the pitchforks, the @NYTOnIt account has been reinstated. The account is no longer using the Times logo and is now sporting the default egg picture available to all Twitter users. And apparently, there's a logo contest in the works—one that preferably doesn't violate the Gray Lady's trademark:
GUYS, I think it's time for an avatar contest. Anyone want to be ON IT? facebook.com/nytonit/posts/…— The Times Is On It (@NYTOnIt) November 20, 2012
As we reported earlier, that logo was the point of contention in which the New York Times brought the parody account down. Benjamin Kabak, who owns the account, had filed an appeal late last night. Now our sardonic Times trend-story snarking can now return to its regularly scheduled programming (with possibly more snark because of the suspension, and less trademarks).
Original: Last night the maker of lovable Twitter account @NYTOnIt announced that the actual New York Times complained about it and got the social-media platform to suspend the account because they said the @NYTOnIt avatar violated copyright laws. He's appealing to Twitter, but still: really, New York Times? Really? We've contacted the man behind @NYTOnIt, Benjamin Kabak, and are waiting to hear back, but here's the message he posted on Facebook around midnight last night:
Twitter has suspended my account over a claim from The Times that my avatar violates a trademark. I say fair use. Right now, I'm waiting for Twitter to process my request to fix the problem so I can get the account reenabled. But feel free to spread the word over how the country's largest newspaper feels threatened by a small Twitter account right now.
Before the Twitter account was disabled, NYTOI was really quite good at pointing out the silly kernels of Times stories with the catchphrase "The Times Is ON IT." Each tweet had a link out to said stories, presumably driving traffic to the Times site from NYTOI's 20,000 Twitter followers. A few examples, from a Google cache of Twitter before the page was taken down:
You can see that the "T" logo there is, as Beta Beat's Jessica Roy points out, the same one used for the New York Times Style magazine. And the New York Times legal team confirmed the complaint on Poynter. But media nerds and journalists who were really entertained by the account (it's the little things) think it's more than just a copyright issue here. Here's media wizard Jeff Jarvis killing two birds with one stone:
GUYS, the New York Times is a gray, humorless institution and its lawyers are ON IT! @nytonit— Jeff Jarvis (@jeffjarvis) November 20, 2012
So far, the reaction from the suspension has been like Jarvis'. Here's one from blogger Trevor Timm...
...and another from American Spectator's John Tabin:
GUYS, you can get a Twitter account suspended by making a bogus trademark claim, and The Times is ON IT. facebook.com/nytonit/posts/…— John Tabin (@johntabin) November 20, 2012
And for journalism nerds, here's The Times's public editor/darling of the people Margaret Sullivan stepping in after being spurred by Columbia's Emily Bell and Columbia Journalism Review's Kira Goldenberg:
The whole thing sort of makes you wonder if there are Style section writers out there who got their feelings hurt by the parody account and that there are lawyers ready to pounce on it. (If so, I do not know Jen Doll and am just an acquaintance.) There may be some good news though, as NYTOnIt's founder also revealed on Facebook that an appeal with Twitter has been filed:
I have filed an appeal with Twitter so I may remove the materials they claim are problematic, and they say, "We are usually able to respond within a few days, but some issues may take longer." A few days for something that isn't actually legally infringing seems particularly egregious. We'll see how long that takes.