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Aug 05 2010 - 03:00pm
What Is Fair Abour Fair Use?
Jeannie's blog post about a judge declaring that jailbreaking an IPhone is protected under the fair use doctrine brought to mind the current storm surrounding South Africa's soccer's federation decision to abandon the nickname Bafana Bafana (Zulu for “the boys, the boys) and the whole idea of fair use. To the best of my knowledge, fair use is a confusing concept that has no clear legal standard. South Africa was banned from competing in any international or continental soccer tournament when apartheid was still law. Upon reinstatement to the game, they adopted the nickname Bafana Bafana, which made sense considering most of those initial squad members were a group of boys.

The recent decision to drop the Bafana Bafana nickname comes from a local merchant's decision to use the nickname for his clothing brand. A local judge declared that the merchant, who has trademarked the name, had the right to use the name since South Africa's soccer federation don't have the legal right to the name. Even if the soccer association had the right to the name, I am sure the merchant will have used the "fair use" argument. To me, the issue here is not so much about commercialism and making money but about national pride, especially in sports. South Africa just finished hosting a successful World Cup, reigning Open golf champion Louis Oosthuizen is South African and they have one of the best national rugby teams in the world. So Bafana Bafana, like the nicknames of most national soccer and rugby teams, are often a sort of pride for the citizens of those nations. It is more than just a nickname and it often has a historical or cultural meaning. For instance, my native Ecuador's men's national soccer team is nicknamed La Tri (Tricolor) for the three colors in our national flag.

Though the merchant is legally allow to adopt the name for his own commercial gains, I think it is a shame that in a summer where South Africa has had much of the world's attention, the merchant's greed is sure to end the reign of one of the world's most beloved sports nicknames.

|By: Erick Hungria|1675 Reads