Monday, February 21, 2011

Urban Homestead, Urban Homestead, Urban Homestead.

The interwebs have been blowing up lately (OK, kind-of-sort-of mildly blowing up) over the strange copyfight-meets-urban-ag-movement drama of the Dervaes family of Pasadena vs. the rest of the sane world.

Basically, the Dervaes family has a 1/5 acre lot that they produce a ton of food from. Which is awesome. They also claim, rather tastelessly, to be the founders & leaders of the "urban homestead movement." Which is pretty laughable. Now, they're claiming moreover to be the owners of urban homestead®. Which is really, really lame.

Evidently the Dervaes urban homesteading empire registered the trademarks for "urban homestead," and "urban homesteading" back in 2008, in what seems to have been a somewhat dubious approval process. About a week ago, they started enforcing those trademarks, with a batch of cease-and-desist letters addressed to bloggers, authors, urban farming suppliers, and humble DIY workshop-holders. Now they've sent takedown notices to Google and Facebook, wiping out the online presence of at least a couple of worthy urban farmies. Not nice at all, right?

The Dervaes family may run a great urban homestead, but they did not found nor do they lead this movement. They did not originate the term, and they shouldn't be able to own it. So now the rest of the urban homesteading/urban ag movement is fighting back... or at least those of us who spend too much time online. The "Take Back Urban-Homesteading" backlash is centered on a Facebook page, a petition, and on Twitter. And now EFF has stepped up to represent the authors of the book The Urban Homestead! As the Facebook page so eloquently puts it, "nobody can copyright our identity ... urban homesteading is not a brand or company, but a grassroots community and lifestyle."

UPDATE: Most thorough and thoughtful write-up of this whole kerfuffle that I've seen yet, courtesy of Mat over at Agrariana.

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