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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Rubber Duck Updates

Posted By on Wed, Sep 25, 2013 at 12:43 PM

Two bits of info from the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s press event today, about tomorrow’s opening of the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts, featuring the much-ballyhooed Rubber Duck Project.

First, if you want to see the 40-foot-tall, bright-yellow Duck being towed upstream for its sure-to-be dramatic arrival at the Roberto Clemente Bridge (during the Rubber Duck Bridge Party), get there early. The party starts at 5:30 p.m., and sources in the Trust say the duck could arrive as early as 6 p.m. (Once it gets there, it'll bob all night then head to a mooring spot down by the Point for at least the next three weeks, said the Trust’s Paul Organisak, who curated the PIFOF.)

Second, the presser -- held inside the gates at PNC Park, looking out on the bridge -- included none other than Florentijn Hofman, the Dutch artist who created the Duck in 2007 and who has since presented it at cities around the world. (PIFOF marks its North American premiere.)

As first reported on this blog, about two weeks ago, local cartoonist Joe Wos drew the ire of the Cultural Trust when he started taking orders for a T-shirt featuring an image of the Duck. Wos contends that using the image was within his rights; the Trust told him (via email) that he was compromising "the brand of the rubber duck" and risked creating "ill will."

At the time, Hofman did not respond to CP’s email seeking comment -- and Wos is still taking T-shirt orders. So today I asked Hofman whether -- given prior copyright flaps in China over the creation of actual rival giant yellow ducks -- he had any comment on the disagreement.

"This is a nonissue," he replied.

That seemed kind of non-answer, but I asked Hofman whether he had any plans to take legal recourse on copyright grounds.

"Rubber ducks don't belong to anyone," said Hofman. "But rubber ducks of 15 meters, 18 meters, 20 meters, they belong to me." Again, he added, "It's not an issue for me, actually."

Which still didn't clear up how much Wos has to worry about legal action. As reported in CP’s prior post, Hofman would likely have grounds to pursue a copyright-infringement claim on the duck. Whether he actually does so remains to be seen.

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