Stadium draws a line at using its name

April 03, 1992|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,Staff Writer

If you're thinking of buying one of those classy pen-and-ink drawings of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, don't be surprised if the keepsake is entitled simply "Still Life of a Copyrighted Stadium."

In a switch from past practice, much of the art depicting Baltimore's ballpark now on store shelves avoids any mention of the name of the stadium, because new rules require anyone using the phrase "Orioles Park at Camden Yards" to first go through Major League Baseball Properties, the licensing arm of professional baseball.

Local artists have found that merely getting permission requires filling out forms and waiting up to eight weeks for a response. And then they must turn over 12 percent of their proceeds, 5.75 percent to the Maryland Stadium Authority, and 6.25 percent to the Orioles and major league baseball.

Other teams have licensed their names, although this is believed to be the first time a stadium authority and team have jointly marketed the rights to a stadium name.

The agreement concerns the name only, leaving artists free totrade in depictions of the stadium as long as the name is not used, said Alison Asti, an attorney with the Maryland Stadium Authority.

"The public is profiting if we receive commission and the public is not profiting if it's just one guy getting the money," Ms. Asti said.

Not all the artists agree.

"I just don't think the Orioles have any right to ask for more money from the form of a building they didn't pay for," said Martin Barry III, who, along with his father, operates Martin Barry Studios in Towson.

The stadium was publicly funded, though the team will partially reimburse the state through its lease over the years.

Mr. Barry said he plans to sell prints of the stadium, but will leave a blank space where the name appears in stainless steel letters over the entrance.

Some other artists, who had found a profitable niche in depictions of Memorial Stadium, say they will probably do the same thing.

"No other thing the state has built has had a license required," said Mike Smith, owner of Aerial Views of Lisbon.

He took several aerial photos of Memorial Stadium last year and sold them, with the state's blessing. He contacted the stadium authority this year and was told any photos he sold would have to be licensed or avoid the name of the stadium.

That means the final product cannot be named Oriole Park at Camden Yards nor can the name be read off the stadium roof in the picture, he said.

Mr. Smith has filled out the 10-page licensing application, which requires a bank letter of credit, and sent it in. But he's afraid he may not hear back in time for opening day shots to be meaningful to buyers.

The letter notifying him of the new rules was dated March 16, and said the application would take four to eight weeks to process, he said.

He is going to try to take a picture that does not reveal the name of the stadium, he said.

He and the other artists are also concerned about the dispute over Camden Yards. A local T-shirt salesman filed a trademark application for the name before the state did. The two sides are now in court fighting over the matter.

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