Saturday, August 9, 2008

First Class or Media Mail?

From the first time that I heard Ben Gibbard’s vocals on The Postal Service's “Such Great Heights”, I was entranced. However, it was only recently that I was able to put two and two together. Ben Gibbard is also the lead vocal for Death Cab for Cutie. It is no surprise that I also am a Death Cab fan. However, I have to attribute my knowledge of their existence to my wife; she has a brilliant musical mind. At first taste, I was addicted. As with any artist, Postal Service is not without their skeletons.

In 2004, the United States Postal Service sent the band a cease and desist letter, citing its trademark on the phrase "postal service". After negotiations, the USPS relented, allowing the band use of the trademark in exchange for promotional efforts on behalf of the USPS and a performance at its annual National Executive Conference. Additionally, the USPS website sells the band's CDs. In 2007, "Such Great Heights" appeared in the background of the "Whiteboard" advertising campaign for one of the federal establishment's private competitors, the United Parcel Service.

In January 2006, Josh Melnick and Xander Charity, who had produced the "Such Great Heights" music video, created a commercial for Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.) and Intel using similar footage. While strikingly similar to the music video, the commercial did not contain imagery of the band or a recording of its music. On January 19, 2006, Gibbard stated on the band's website, "It has recently come to our attention that Apple Computers' new television commercial for the Intel chip features a shot-for-shot recreation of our video for 'Such Great Heights' made by the same filmmakers responsible for the original. We did not approve this commercialization and are extremely disappointed with both parties that this was executed without our consultation or consent." The band did not take legal action against Apple or the filmmakers.

This band is just another prime example of artistic talent that not only is U.S. originated, but straight from the heart of Seattle.

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