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FedEx Sues Man for Box Furniture

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  • FedEx Sues Man for Box Furniture

    Somebody needs to carefully explain the DMCA to FedEx.
    Slowly, like they'd be explaining to certain Cubs fans why the Cubs will most likely not breaking the WS winless steak this year.

    From Wired news

    Originally posted by Wired writer Kristen Philipkoski
    Most of us have been there. You can just barely afford to pay the rent. But forget about buying furniture -- not if you want to eat, anyway.

    Jose Avila recently found himself in just that predicament. Although he has a good job as a software developer, he's locked into two rents after moving to Arizona, and has no extra cash for an Ikea shopping spree. But instead of scouting street corners for a ratty, unwanted couch, Avila got creative and built an apartment full of surprisingly sturdy furniture -- out of FedEx shipping boxes.

    Fanciful as his creations may seem, FedEx is not amused. The shipping giant's lawyers have sent Avila letters demanding he take down the site he created to document his project, invoking, among other things, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (.pdf), or DMCA.

    Avila has outfitted his entire apartment with FedEx box designs, including a bed, a corner desk with wall shelves, a table, two chairs and a couch. Drawing from architecture and drafting classes he took in college, Avila has designed pieces that are surprisingly un-boxy.

    He was blindsided by the cease-and-desist letter from the company to which he proclaims long-standing loyalty.

    "I was surprised, actually," Avila said. "One thing I’ve always stood behind is I'm pro-FedEx. I ship stuff with FedEx all the time and I feel more comfortable shipping with FedEx because their boxes are stable and sturdy."

    And that translates to strong furniture, Avila said. The bed can handle his 5-foot-6-inch, 165-pound frame, even when he jumps up and down on it (an experiment he tried in response to an e-mail asking if the bed could support two people).

    Avila said he never intended to make money from the site, or to exploit FedEx in any way1. He said he simply wanted to spread the word that "it's OK to be ghetto."

    "That's pretty much the motto of the site," he said. "When you're stuck in a bind and you're feeling down, it's not the end of the world."

    But that feel-good message seems to be lost on FedEx. The company claims that Avila is infringing on its trademark and its copyright. The day after Avila launched the site in June, FedEx asked him to take it down, claiming he had violated the DMCA.

    Lawyers at the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society, who are representing Avila, argued the company's claims don't relate to copyright and therefore the DMCA doesn't apply. Rather, the claims refer to trademark infringement and conversion. After talking with his lawyers, Avila put the site back up.

    "DMCA only applies to copyrighted works, and they were basically making trademark-related claims, so it was completely outrageous," said Lauren Gelman, associate director of the Stanford center. "This is just an example of how lawyers take advantage of copyright laws to use protecting provisions like those in the DMCA to take down stuff they just don't like."

    A FedEx representative did not respond to questions about the claims and whether the company planned to take legal action against Avila.

    In a letter (.pdf) sent Aug. 3 to Jennifer Granick, director of the Stanford center and Avila's lawyer, FedEx also claims Avila violated's terms of use, which state that " is provided solely for the use of current and potential FedEx customers to interact with FedEx and may not be used by any other person or entity, or for any other purpose.”

    In her response to FedEx (.pdf), Granick took issue with that argument.

    "Frankly, it's the most interesting of the legal claims," Gelman said. "But in this case I see nothing in the terms of service that would prevent (making furniture from FedEx boxes and displaying them on a website)."

    FedEx also said in the Aug. 3 letter that Avila clearly intended to operate a business from his website because he used the .com domain suffix, the "commercial level domain," rather than .net.

    "There is absolutely no rule, regulation or law that says that," Gelman replied.

    Original Text,1284,68492,00.html
    "Whaddya mean I hurt your feelings?"
    "I didn't know you
    had any feelings"

  • #2
    Be passionate about what you believe in, or why bother.


    • #3
      I told you guys FedEx sucked and that they're all fucking pricks.

      Just further proof.
      When you say to your neighbor, "We're having a loud party on Saturday night if that's alright with you," what you really mean is, "We're having a loud party on Saturday night."


      • #4
        Where did he get all of the boxes???
        Official Lounge Sponsor of:
        Brett Hull & St. Patricks Day


        • #5
          Originally posted by BlueBrained@Aug 13 2005, 07:38 AM
          Where did he get all of the boxes???
          I think you can grab boxes, envelopes, and labels from the drop boxes.


          Which means Fedex will soon make people buy their boxes so they don't lose money on people's furniture.

          Or they will raise their rates, and we all pay for it anyway.
          No president wants war. Everything you may have heard is that, but it's just simply not true
          President George W. Bush, March 21, 2006

          I'm a war president
          President George W. Bush, February 8, 2004


          • #6
            Fedx can't pass through increased costs to customers any more than Johnny Londoff passes through interest and lease savings to people who buy cars. JJ.


            • #7
              "it's OK to be ghetto."
              Hey, that's my motto.
              RIP Chris Jones 1971-2009
              You'll never be forgotten.


              • #8
                Originally posted by WinstonSmith@Aug 13 2005, 12:54 AM
                I told you guys FedEx sucked and that they're all fucking pricks.

                Just further proof.

                I go to the FedEX Kinkos in Fairview Heights frequently...I told the woman that they're missing out on a potential marketing campaign...

                I told her I always refer to them as KINKY-FedEX.....

                She thought it was funny. They're open till 11PM, which is why I do business there.