No poppies in the paper

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Unless specifically approved by the Royal Canadian Legion, readers of these newspapers swill no longer see the poppy symbol as part of Remembrance Day advertisements.

A TC•Media newspaper publisher received a letter earlier this week from the Legion’s Dominion Command to stop publishing any advertisements containing the poppy symbol.

Bill Maxwell, the secretary of the poppy and remembrance committee, says use of the poppy symbol must be approved, noting that it is a registered trademark of the Royal Canadian Legion.

“Requests for commercial ads would not be approved,” he wrote.

Contacted at his Ottawa office, Maxwell says the Legion takes its role as protector of the poppy image very seriously.

He noted that even local Legion branches must apply for permission to use the poppy image.

 “It is our job to ensure it is used appropriately,” said Maxwell. “Each case is judged on its own merits.”

The Legion has issued a 62-page poppy manual that in part deals with issues surrounding use of the image.

In that manual, situations where usage would be considered by the committee include Remembrance-themed public service announcements, on church bulletins, for educational use, on veterans monuments and within commemorative parks, street signs and  banners to recognize commemorative events.

In general, newspapers are allowed to use the poppy image for Remembrance Day features that do not feature advertisements.

Uses that the poppy image would not be accepted for include on any clothing items, music CDs, or commemorative items like car magnets. Tattoos featuring the poppy image are also specifically prohibited.

Maxwell says most people use the poppy image with the best intentions, but are unaware of the Legion’s policies.

Western Nova Scotia group publisher Fred Fiander says the notice came as a surprise to him.

“We have been respectfully using the poppy image as part of our Remembrance Day features for many years,” he said. “I’m disappointed, but we will certainly comply and I’ve asked our sales managers to immediately halt usage of the symbol.”

Maxwell says most people are understanding and cooperate with the Legion when asked.

“Most are very good,” he said.

Maxwell notes that the copyright provisions do not apply to the use of the actual poppy flower (with stems, etc.) except when the flower is used in the Remembrance context.   Such usage should then be reviewed by the Legion.


















Organizations: Royal Canadian Legion, Dominion Command, Poppy and Remembrance Committee

Geographic location: Ottawa, Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • Robert Vance
    November 12, 2012 - 04:51

    The more I read about the Legion's behaviour, the more it smacks over the over-vigilant, near-bullying behaviour of other huge organizations that border on using intellectual property laws in a bullying or abusive manner. I sincerely doubt that half the things the Legion purports to be within its IP rights or things they seem to believe they can regulate have little basis in reality. I suspect a lot of people cave when they get these cease-and-decist letters because they don't know their own rights or don't have the time or resources to stand up to the Legion. The more it seems that my donations to the Legion or the money from my poppy purchase is going to their IP lawyers or their bureaucracy behind this behaviour, and less to actual charitable purposes, the less inclined I am to continue providing the Legion with my donations.

    November 05, 2012 - 16:49

    I was so sorry to read that you have been asked by the RCL Dominion Command to stop using the Poppy in your paper. It's truly outrageous. Here is my own story dealing with Bill Maxwell and Dominion Command: I had to deal with Bill when we got our cease and desist letter/phone call when we were selling our Jake's Gift buttons for local POPPY TRUST FUNDS across Canada! I have been performing my play, Jake's Gift, across Canada since 2007. It's a story about the importance of Remembrance, and the personal journey of a WW2 veteran's return to Juno Beach to find his brother's grave. Since 2010, we've been raising money for Poppy Trust Funds by selling button packages after the show for $5.00 per package. Last Fall, I got a phone call from Bill Maxwell telling me I had to apply to use the poppy image as it was a copyright image, which i had no idea about. I did apply and was declined. I couldn't believe that they had a problem with it because 100% of the $$$ we raise goes straight to the local Poppy Trust Fund of whatever community we were in - It is the very same fund that "THEIR" poppy is raising money for, AND we never take any money back to even cover the cost of making the buttons. We donate all the money. I wonder if RCL Dominion Command does the same thing, or is most of the $ we donate when we buy the poppy gobbled up by administration fees? Last year we changed the Poppy to be an actual FLower instead of the Legion's Poppy, but now I'm sure someone will give me a hard time about it now that i read in your paper that apparently you have to get permission to use a flower when it is in remembrance..I'll be waiting. This past month alone, we have raised over $2300 on tour so far this month in AB/MB, and since starting the whole button sales in 2010 we've raised over $13,500 for Poppy Trust Funds across Canada. Bill actually said to me, well you can keep raising money for us. You just can't use the Poppy in any of your work - so we had to take all the Legion poppy images off our website and we replaced them with the actual flower. I think this is all outrageous and that Dominion Command's Poppy Remembrance committee needs to stop biting the hands that are trying to help feed them. Sincerely, Julia Mackey Juno Productions/Jake's Gift Vancouver, BC