The scuffle over a Yale online television station gives new meaning to the phrase “TV drama.”
A debate erupted last semester between some of the founders of the student-run television Web site Teli and YaleStation.org. The two sides are contesting who has the rights to run the station and use the name. After a series of power struggles and leadership disputes, programming has been suspended, a petition has been made to the U.S. Patent Office, and threats have been made to involve University attorneys.
The adversaries will take their case in front of Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg Friday morning.
“There’s some contention and disagreement, and we’re just simply going to act as the moderators,” Trachtenberg said of the meeting.
Teli TV, began offering streaming video of original shows, comedy sketches by Yale student groups and other programs after joining with YaleStation, a student-run Web site, last spring. YaleStation provided the technological support to get the station up and running.
But last fall Beth Deters ’04 and Gil Doron ’04, two of Teli’s founders, decided to pull out of their association with YaleStation, and now both they and YaleStation founder Alexander Clark ’04 claim to be the rightful operators of Teli.
“We are saying ‘what can we do to protect the Teli name and idea?’ which we feel is rightfully ours, especially since Gil thought of the name and I thought of the idea,” Deters said.
Clark contends the idea for Teli was a collaboration between Deters and him, and said, “Teli was founded as a project of YaleStation.”
Doron and Deters hope to relaunch Teli in the spring at the address www.teli.tv, a domain name owned by Doron, using their own Internet server. Clark said he hopes to relaunch programming on the YaleStation server in February.
To prevent Clark from doing so, Deters and Doron applied to the U.S. Patent Office for a trademark for the name Teli.
“Ideally we’d like not to have to get into the trademark issue, but we went ahead with it just so we’d have some cards [to play],” Deters said.
Clark said he is not worried that YaleStation will lose the legal right to the name Teli.
“A trademark would have to be done by the organization itself, not by agents of it,” Clark said, implying that Teli is part of the YaleStation organization.
Over Thanksgiving break Clark sent an e-mail to Deters and Doron that said the University’s attorneys may have to get involved because the trademark application implicates Yale’s endorsement of the station, but he now no longer believes that is the case, he said.
“I don’t believe lawyers will be necessary,” Clark said.
All the students involved expressed a wish to quickly get student programming on the Internet again soon.
“Whatever the dean’s office decides, we will certainly and graciously abide by that” Clark said.
Doron said these conflicts have detracted from the original intent of Teli.
“All sorts of formalities have taken out the fun, undergraduate spirit of Teli,” Doron said.