DC Comics reversed their controversial decision today, allowing a memorial statue for child abuse victim Jeffrey Baldwin to use the Superman logo despite denying the request earlier this week. Baldwin died of starvation in 2002 after being locked in a room and neglected, serving only as a source of income for his grandparents. Recently, Ottowa man Todd Boyce was moved by the story and began raising funding to erect a statue in Baldwin's honor. The statue depicted Jeffrey dressed as his hero, Superman. However, DC Comics refused to grant permission for the statue to use the trademarked logo, reportedly citing concerns that Superman would become associated with child abuse.
Yeah, that went over about as well as you'd expect it to, with basically the same headline - DC Won't Let Statue of Murdered Kid Who Loved Superman Use Superman Logo - making it's way to articles everywhere from The Outhouse to Time Magazine. After that, DC was left with basically no choice but to reverse their decision, which they did today, issuing the following statement:
We are honored by the relationship that our fans have with our characters, and fully understand the magnitude of their passion. We take each request seriously and our heartfelt thoughts go out to the victims, the family and those affected. DC Entertainment uses a flexible set of criteria when we receive worthy requests such as this, and at times have reconsidered our initial stance.
So what does this mean? There was speculation that the original decision was motivated by concern over trademark protection, though that reason was never given by anyone connected with the story, and, in fact, being asked and explicitly granting permission to use a trademark does not weaken a company's ability to protect it. However, DC does set (continue?) a precedent here of allowing the media and social media to force them to do things they otherwise would not do. It's possible that this could open the floodgate of requests to use DC properties for charitable causes, with DC facing pressure to allow it or face widespread ridicule. Whether that's a good thing, a bad thing, or somewhere in between, is up to you to decide for yourself.
Regardless of your feelings on that, however, Jeffrey Baldwin will get his Superman statue, and I think we can all be agree that that's pretty nice.