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World Trade Center — The Cost Of A Name

The new World Trade Center tower as seen from the 9-11 Memorial Plaza (Getty Images)

Sometimes you have to wonder “what were they thinking?” The Port Authority of New York owned the World Trade Center twin towers and the entire complex of buildings at the site, and they also own the new tower going up to replace the destroyed towers.

But the Port Authority has to pay thousands of dollars a year just to use the name “World Trade Center.” Why? Because they sold the rights to the name to a non-profit group for $10 in 1986.

So to use the name “World Trade Center” on any building or any merchandise or souvenirs they might sell, it’s copyrighted, and the Port Authority has to pay. The cost to use the name is $10,000, and now that non-profit is demanding free use of office space in the new tower worth over half a million dollars a year, and they’ll likely get it.

It’s likely worth the money for the Port Authority because the sale of merchandise and souvenirs generates as much as $28 million every year.

We technically violate copyright laws every day. Any time you download a song, or a video, or a movie, or a TV episode, or a book from the internet and you don’t pay for it — you’re in violation of a copyright. You’re basically stealing somebody else’s work.

It’s nearly impossible to enforce. The ones who upload it are usually the targets of lawsuits.

The Recording Industry of America went after Napster nearly 10 years ago and won. Millions of songs were being downloaded for free and singers and songwriters were losing money with each download. That was back in the day when they made most of their money through CD sales. But the old saying is if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Record companies figured out how to provide downloads for a price and most of the world has gone along with it.

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