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  • Joel Cheong

Decking the hall with Tom and Jerry? You better watch out!

Ah Christmas! The season of self administered force-feeding, countless wallet burning sales and massive competitions between shopping malls to see who can out-wow each other with their seasonal decorations.

Not wanting to miss out on spreading some festive cheer, the owner of a serviced apartment building in Penang recently decided to duke it out with the malls by decking out the front of its building with Christmas decorations which included two large figures of Tom and Jerry.

However, what would have been a place of pilgrimage for the selfie magi quickly became a cautionary tale of Dickensian proportion. For out of the bitter cold came the representatives of Warner Bros. (owner of Tom and Jerry) and their sternly worded Cease and Desist. And just like that, the famous cat and mouse duo was taken down, faster than you can say 'Hickory Dickory Dock'.

So does this mean you really cannot add some pizzazz to your mamak by putting up some Norwich football club memorabilia, or place life-sized cardboard figures of Anna and Elsa before locking the office AC at subzero temperatures and making off with the remote controller?

Well generally, personal use of copyrighted works is not considered to be infringing especially if they are licensed merchandise. So yes, the signed poster of the Hoff in his budgie smuggler can stay on your living room wall (whether it should is another matter all together). What can get you into trouble is if you nick said poster off and post it all over your kopitiam in order to attract more auntie clienteles. Yes, even if you’re not charging the ladies (or gentlemen) RM 10 per selfie!

Now, if you're not too sure about the legality of that BTS shrine in your place of business, here are a few question to ask yourself. Are the merch legit and not from some dodgy pasar malam uncle? If your answer is yes, then good for you! You've just earned yourself some Santa brownie points. But wait! We're not in the clear just yet. Second question. Does the use of these licensed merchandise make it look like your business is endorsed by the celebrities when in actual fact BTS has nothing to do with your teh-tarik jantan? If the answer is also 'yes', then you're likely to still get a lump of coal from Santa and a Cease and Desist from the lawyers.

Still unsure? Why don't you give us a holler? Our Santa's little helpers will be more than happy to tell you if you've been naughty or nice.

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