In an earlier incarnation of the "Dinosaurs of Cabazon" page, the only nearby restaurant I mentioned was the Wheel Inn.  I omitted any word of the Burger King or Denny's.  This omission elicited the following chain of emails:


From: Sherry Minkoff [mailto:minkoff@home.com]
Sent: February 09, 2000 6:45 PM
To: Frank Wu
Subject: Cabazon Dinosaurs
Importance: High

I was taken back when I searched for webpages dealing with Dinosaurs and found our dinosaurs on your webpage.  We bought the property about six years ago from the Bell Trust.  Much development has occurred with a lot more to come.  On the 60 acres we own, is now a Denny's Restaurant run by my husband and myself, my father-in-law owns the entire 60 acres and is planning on building a full service truck stop along with a hotel as soon as a flood wall can be built.

I am sure you realize these dinosaurs, when photographed for publication or advertising, must have written permission from the owner.  When were your pictures taken?

I would like you to advertise our Denny's Restaurant on your webpage.  I see you advertise the Wheel Inn which are tenant's of ours.  We would appreciate the same advertising.  There is also a Burger King on the location.  The Denny's has many window views of Dinney and Rex for the children to enjoy along with balloons for all the kids.

We appreciate your tribute to our dino's and Claude Bell and would like you to add our restaurant to your site which has been open for about a year and a half.

I expect to hear from you.

Our e-mail is minkoff@home.com

Thank you,
The Minkoff Family

From: Wu, Frank
Sent: February 11, 2000 11:11 AM
To: 'Sherry Minkoff'
Subject: RE: Cabazon Dinosaurs

Dear Sherry:

If you would like, I can add an ad to the website for the Denny's, BK or any other local establishments that you own.  However:

For the record, I believe, as a matter of law, the dinosaurs would be considered "public structures," akin to buildings or bridges, the designs of which can, of course, be copyrighted.  However, the public photography of these large public structures cannot be prohibited due to the presence of "fair use" laws. Buildings and other large public structures basically form a part of the physical landscape, the same as a hill or a tree.  An individual building owner cannot prevent people from standing in front of that building and having a picture taken.  Fair use states that publication of the photos of public structures is acceptable in contexts such as newspapers (and I think the website is like this).  Advertisements are, of course, a separate thing, but my website is not a paid advertisement or advertisement of any kind.

In addition, my discussion of the "Wheel Inn" is not an advertisement (I generate no income from the website, and the Wheel Inn has not paid me for the mention of the restaurant).  My statements about the Wheel Inn are
akin to a restaurant review in a newspaper, which is again covered by "fair use" laws.  I can dig out court cases if you'd like.

However, I don't want this to turn too acrimonious.  I'm just telling you where I stand legally.

However, because I am a nice person, I would be completely willing to add a banner ad or two to the Denny's and/or Burger King or anything other establishments you own or run in the area if you'd like.  Just send me the html code and I will add it to my page within a day or two of receipt.  I just want to say that I am willing to do this for you, but I don't feel the legal imperative to doing this.

Frank Wu

From: Sherry Minkoff [mailto:minkoff@home.com]
Sent: February 11, 2000 3:30 PM
To: Frank Wu
Subject: Cabazon Dino's
Importance: High

Dear Mr. Wu,
Thank you for writing back. The dino's are not considered "public Structures", they are privately owned by my family. We have a LICENSE AGREEMENT that our attorney drafted for just this reason. We are paid a fee of anywhere from $ 2,500 to $3,000 for a photo shoot.  I am however not sure if a website is exempt. We will contact our attorney to find out exactly how the law reads on this.

We are not trying to play hardball here, it is frustrating for us when we see our dino's in publication without permission because many people do not realize they can't do it. They must have permission from our family along with a signed License Agreement. We must be able to control how the dino's are used.

We will contact our attorney and find out where we stand with this issue.

We too are nice people and would like to work with you to help us mention our Denny's on your website.

I will contact you after speaking with our attorney.


Sherry Minkoff
The Minkoff Family

From: Wu, Frank
Sent: February 11, 2000 4:43 PM
To: 'Sherry Minkoff'
Subject: RE: Cabazon Dino's


I don't want to fight about this.  And I understand your desire to protect the use of images of the dinosaurs, which I know you own.  I understand that you want to try to control what is published about them.  I understand that.
Also, my previous use of the term "public structures" was inaccurate; I really meant "architectural work," which of course has a different legal meaning.  The former term is inaccurate, because, as you say, you do, in fact, own the dinosaurs.  And, yes, perhaps in retrospect I should have found somebody in authority to ask permission first before posting the images.

Let me ask you this, Sherry.  What do you really want? Do you want me to put up an ad for the Denny's and Burger King and/or say good things about them?
I said I would do this.  I did not eat at either establishment (or at the Wheel Inn) when I visited the dinosaurs, but I have eaten at other Denny's and BK's and they're just fine, and I'm willing to say so in print.
Please send me the html code or point me to a URL where I can copy a banner ad or provide some text you would like to see added to my website, and I will put that up.  That's not a problem and would be the easiest solution.  If there is anything else that I've said about the dinosaurs that you specifically object to, let me know about that, too, and I will add that.

Also, you should know that I am not willing to pay a $2,500 to $3,000 fee for a photo shoot.  On this topic, you should know that the pictures on the website are not photographs that I took, but rather scanned in images of postcards which I purchased while visiting the dinosaurs.  This fact may raise other issues.  I am not willing to pay for that fee because, frankly, I don't have that kind of money.  Also, my website is not for me a commercial endeavour.  As I said, I make no money off the website.  If it comes to continued requests for a fee, then I will simply take down all the images of the dinosaurs, if that would settle it.

Sherry, I would really like to work this situation out with you.  However, keep in mind that I am just a guy with a website.  I'm not doing this for money, but for love and appreciation of the dinosaurs.  Again, if you want me to advertise Denny's and Burger King, I am more than willing to do that.

Frank Wu

P.S. In addition, there was no posted sign saying that it was forbidden to take photographs or publish photographs of the dinosaurs.  To clarify this situation, you may want to post such signs.

----- Original Message -----
From: Wu, Frank <Frank Wu>
To: 'Sherry Minkoff' <minkoff@home.com>
Sent: Friday, February 11, 2000 5:45 PM
Subject: RE: Cabazon Dino's


this is summarizes my legal position on this issue:

In the treatise on "Copyright," Aspen Law & Business, 2000 Supplement, Paul Goldstein writes {at on "Architectural Works"}:

"Section 120(a) of the 1976 Copyright Act, added by the Architectural Works Copyright Protection Act [Pub. L. No. 101-650, tit. VII, 104 Stat. 5133, 8515-8516 (Dec. 1, 1990)] provides that, once an architectural work has been built, no rights exists 'to prevent the making, distributing, or public display of pictures, paintings, photographs, or other pictorial representations of the work, if the building in which the work is embodied is located in or ordinarily visible from a public place.'"

Goldstein continues:

"Congress' main purpose in carving out the exemption in section 120(a) was probably to excuse camera-toting tourists from liability for photographing buildings. But section 120(a) also exempts commercially important conduct. For example, section 120(a) gives commercial photographers free entry into the market for museum slides and postcards depicting architecturally important buildings."

I think the text is pretty clear. 

Sherry, please let me know how you would like ad(s) for Denny's or BK to appear on my website.  And please let me know if posting such ads would resolve this issue.

Frank Wu


After I sent this last letter, I added the present text mentioning Denny's and Burger King.  But I never heard from Sherry Minkoff again.



Back to the Dinosaurs of Cabazon page

Back to Kitsch Tour U.S.A.

Back to Science Fiction and Fantasy Art

Back to Science Fiction and Humor Writing

Back to The Official Frank Wu Website homepage