You Only Live Once, So Why Not Demand Payment For The YOLO Acronym You Didn't Invent?

from the you-only-live-long-enough-to-troll dept

The singer Drake has, at times, been good about not being an IP absolutist, blasting his own label (Universal Music) for taking down the music he was leaking. However, it appears that he’s not above demanding money for ideas he didn’t come up with. According to Mashable, Drake has been tweeting at various retailers, demanding that they send him money for selling clothing that include the word “YOLO,” recognized as an acronym for “You Only Live Once.” Drake posted to his Instagram feed a picture of YOLO hats at Walgreens and said:

Walgreens….you gotta either chill or cut the cheque

He sent a similar message about YOLO clothes at Macys.

Drake, along with Rick Ross, are credited with popularizing YOLO in the song “The Motto” released in late 2011. The acronym became so popular since then that the Oxford English Dictionary had it as a runner up for word of the year.

So, if Drake came up with YOLO, does he deserve money? Well, there’s a problem. A look at the etymology of YOLO suggests it predates Drake’s song by many years — and, in fact, a YOLO clothing line was launched back in 2004 following the use by one of the characters in the NBC TV show Average Joe. Similarly, the term went into the Urban Dictionary way back in 2004 as well. A search of the US PTO trademark database, shows a bunch of trademarks (and applications) related to the word “Yolo,” some of which date back before Drake’s song. Drake may have popularized it, but he didn’t come up with it, and to now claim ownership of it seems pretty rich. Though, I guess, if “you only live once,” perhaps his feeling is he might as well make an obnoxious cash grab for something someone else came up with.

Filed Under: , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “You Only Live Once, So Why Not Demand Payment For The YOLO Acronym You Didn't Invent?”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment

Re: That's hilarious

So now you’re saying that “touring and t-shirts” aren’t the solution? wow, ok… too funny… seems like you guys aren’t happy unless artists aren’t getting paid no matter how “innovative” they are… seems to me, it’s a pretty innovative idea to make t-shirts with your own logo and phrase!

Anonymous Cowardsays:

Re: Re: That's hilarious

You’re not that sharp on the uptake, are you?

No, what was said, quite clearly, is that the phrase YOLO was on t-shirts AT LEAST 15 years ago. Meaning that the phrase was around long before Drake was and, for John Federson at least, is in no way associated with Drake.

Nothing more was said, nothing less was said.

You of course attempted to spin that to a shot against artists profiting. A failed shot at that.

But again, to clarify, Drake is not innovating. Why not? Because the phrase “you only live once” has been around for quite some time now, and quite some time before Drake was singing it, thereby meaning it is NOT his phrase. He is of course free to make and sell t-shirts with his own logo and phrases, but claiming ownership over the phrase “you only live once” and attempting to extort others for using what is and has been a common phrase for some time is a bit much.

So yes, in this case, Drake is in the wrong. As are you, but when it comes to YOU being wrong… well, that’s par for the course.


Re: OH, NOW you distance yourself!

I would defend Apple against anyone who tried to patent troll them. I would also do the same defending Samsung against patent trolls.

I would also defend the MPAA and RIAA against copyright litigation.

Indeed, I would attack Kickstarter if it attempted to obtain the IP of other people’s projects for abusive ends. Instagram and Facebook have recently tried this, and ended up getting the backlash they deserve.

You always look at the action itself, not the people involved with that action. That is what we call “matter of principle”. Always take the side of the victim.



Maybe you should try actually getting to know some artists, rather than taking your cues from an admitted Google shill and a guy who makes no bones about wanting to strip artist’s income to as bare as possible because his industry just can’t stand to pay people for their labor.

For, you know, his future grandkids might have to work otherwise.

I suppose then that you are opposed to inheritances? You’re going to give everything your parents leave you to the public, right? C’mon man, keep it consistent.

Rev. Jamessays:

You only live once

I refuse to use the acronym, and this is the first time I’ve actually used the phrase since the 1970s – I thought it was stupid then (Hello, Captain Obvious?), and it’s even more idiotic now – because it’s become a catchphrase for gangbangers and other intellectually challenged people, used to glorify their continued criminality and/or their lack of intelligence. That is the only claim that Drake has to the phrase/acronym – he gave the single-digit-IQ crowd something they can use to show pride in their single-digit IQs.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Older Stuff
13:40 It's Great That Winnie The Pooh Is In The Public Domain; But He Should Have Been Free In 1982 (Or Earlier) (35)
12:06 Norton 360 Now Comes With Crypto Mining Capabilities And Sketchy Removal Process (28)
10:45 Chinese Government Dragnet Now Folding In American Social Media Platforms To Silence Dissent (14)
10:40 Daily Deal: The 2022 Ultimate Cybersecurity Analyst Preparation Bundle (0)
09:29 A Fight Between Facebook And The British Medical Journal Highlights The Difficulty Of Moderating 'Medical Misinformation' (9)
06:29 Court Ruling Paves The Way For Better, More Reliable Wi-Fi (4)
20:12 Eighth Circuit (Again) Says There's Nothing Wrong With Detaining Innocent Minors At Gunpoint (15)
15:48 China's Regulatory War On Its Gaming Industry Racks Up 14k Casualties (10)
13:31 Chinese Government Fines Local Car Dealerships For Surveilling While Not Being The Government (5)
12:08 Eric Clapton Pretends To Regret The Decision To Sue Random German Woman Who Listed A Bootleg Of One Of His CDs On Ebay (29)
10:44 ICE Is So Toxic That The DHS's Investigative Wing Is Asking To Be Completely Separated From It (29)
10:39 Daily Deal: The 2022 Complete Raspberry Pi And Arduino Developer Bundle (0)
09:31 Google Blocked An Article About Police From The Intercept... Because The Title Included A Phrase That Was Also A Movie Title (24)
06:22 Wireless Carriers Balk At FAA Demand For 5G Deployment Delays Amid Shaky Safety Concerns (16)
19:53 Tenth Circuit Denies Qualified Immunity To Social Worker Who Fabricated A Mother's Confession Of Child Abuse (35)
15:39 Sci-Hub's Creator Thinks Academic Publishers, Not Her Site, Are The Real Threat To Science, And Says: 'Any Law Against Knowledge Is Fundamentally Unjust' (34)
13:32 Federal Court Tells Proud Boys Defendants That Raiding The Capitol Building Isn't Covered By The First Amendment (25)
12:14 US Courts Realizing They Have A Judge Alan Albright Sized Problem In Waco (17)
10:44 Boston Police Department Used Forfeiture Funds To Hide Purchase Of Surveillance Tech From City Reps (16)
10:39 Daily Deal: The Ultimate Microsoft Excel Training Bundle (0)
09:20 NY Senator Proposes Ridiculously Unconstitutional Social Media Law That Is The Mirror Opposite Of Equally Unconstitutional Laws In Florida & Texas (25)
06:12 Telecom Monopolies Are Exploiting Crappy U.S. Broadband Maps To Block Community Broadband Grant Requests (7)
12:00 Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of 2021 At Techdirt (17)
10:00 Gaming Like It's 1926: Join The Fourth Annual Public Domain Game Jam (6)
09:00 New Year's Message: The Arc Of The Moral Universe Is A Twisty Path (33)
19:39 DHS, ICE Begin Body Camera Pilot Program With Surprisingly Good Policies In Place (7)
15:29 Remembering Techdirt Contributors Sherwin And Elliot (1)
13:32 DC Metro PD's Powerful Review Panel Keeps Giving Bad Cops Their Jobs Back (6)
12:11 Missouri Governor Still Expects Journalists To Be Prosecuted For Showing How His Admin Leaked Teacher Social Security Numbers (39)
10:48 Oversight Board Overturning Instagram Takedown Of Ayahuasca Post Demonstrates The Impossibility Of Content Moderation (10)
More arrow
This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it