Tag Archives: Presidential Iconography

Oy vey

Consider the other side of the aggrieved vandalism promoter Shepard Fairey, of HOPE poster fame:

Obey the "Hypocrite"'s Lawyers!

Obey the "Hypocrite"'s Lawyers!

Gawker: “Obey” Trademark Law:

Some guy in Pittsburgh sells little baby Steeler mascots with the phrase “Obey Steeler Baby.” Shepard Fairey demands that he stop infringing on his trademark, which he originally made famous by ripping off the image of Andre the Giant!

Well, if that‘s who he ripped off, then he really does have guts, I guess!

UPDATE:  Fairey’s got even bigger trouble than that.

“Yes We Brand!”

Bloomberg News reports that “my generation”‘s President is every bit as thoroughly modern as you’d expect.  In other words, no unauthorized drawing down of his icon-equity will be permitted:

White House lawyers want to control the use of the president’s image, recognizing the worldwide fascination about Obama’s election, First Amendment free-speech rights and easy access to videos and photos on the Web.

“Our lawyers are working on developing a policy that will protect the presidential image while being careful not to squelch the overwhelming enthusiasm that the public has for the president,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Obama’s calls for change and his “Yes We Can” campaign mantra are being evoked to sell assembly-required furniture in Ikea’s “Embrace Change” marketing campaign, bargain airfares during Southwest Airlines Inc.’s “Yes You Can” sale and “Yes Pecan” ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc. shops.

“I can’t remember this ever happening to an active politician before, as a spokesperson or as an image for a brand,” said Brad Adgate, director of research for Horizon Media Inc., a New York-based advertising agency.

Yes you can, Brad!

Oops, sorry.  The article continues with a decently thorough examination of the issues, quoting IP lawyer Jonathan Band as saying:

“It will be difficult,” Band said. “Because he is the president of the United States and there was this campaign and everyone’s proud, I think the First Amendment will be applied much more broadly with respect to people wanting to use an image of the president than it would be with typical entertainment figures or sports figures.”

Sure hope so.  Band continues:

The use of Obama-related images also may involve copyright issues and various state laws about the ability of individuals to control commercial exploitation of their likenesses, Band said.

Good work, Jonathan!  I also appreciated this grace note — a little perspective:

Appropriation of a president’s face and voice, to a large degree, come with the territory, said Princeton University historian Fred Greenstein.

“It’s par for the course,” he said.

Yes… but then again, these days, “IP management” that infringes on free expression and free enterprise is also “par for the course.”

I sure hope the Obama White House doesn’t get carried away with itself on this — either on its “policy” on the use of President Obama’s brand equity or on appointing judges who could possibly agree with such restrictive and essentially antidemocratic views.” Can we handle any more of those?  No, we can’t.

Oops, sorry!

Don’t bother, they’re here

Blockberry and Obama

There ought to be clones

President Obama is suffering from the right-of-publicity blues again.  And now maybe we understand why he wants an intellectual property anti-counterfeiting lawyer on the Supreme Court — this could rise to the level of an international incident already, Jack!

A blog called Cloned In China explains it all in (ironic as it is to say) inimitable fashion:

We all know Obama uses Blackberry phone, and right now the China shanzhai phone maker haff-comm is using this information to promote their new shanzhai phone blockberry 9500 and has Obama’s figure appeared in this phone’s poster with a slogan “Obama have Blackberry, I have blockberry”. sounds pretty funny, but we don’t know whether Obama have got paid as the “spokesman”.  Probably not, after all blockberry has a little difference with Blackberry.

Yeah, probably not.  Have got paid, that is.

Ron ColemanThis is the first time I have really felt as if I were publishing spam as a post.  Which is not fair.  I think Cloned in China’s English is more than a few notches above my Mandarin.  But I just keep wanted to see what they charge for all the highest quality online prescriptions… direct to my door!BlockBerry logo

And, yeah, “BlackBerry” (RIM, that is) probably does indeed have a little “difference” with “BlockBerry” (“Haff-Comm,” that is).

So to speak.

“We cannot allow our brand to be abused”

Originally posted on November 13, 2008:

“We cannot allow our brand to be abused.”  What “brand” is that?

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. brand. The greed of the King “branders” was one of the earliest, and is still one of the most popular, posts on LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION®, and it’s rearing its really unbecoming head once again in light of “the sudden wave of T-shirts, posters and other merchandise depicting the civil rights leader alongside Barack Obama”:

Isaac Newton Farris Jr., King’s nephew and head of the nonprofit King Center in Atlanta, said the estate is entitled to hundreds of thousands of dollars in licensing fees — maybe even millions.

“Some of this is probably putting food on people’s plates. We’re not trying to stop anybody from legitimately supporting themselves,” he said, “but we cannot allow our brand to be abused.”

Their BRAND? Wow — in 40 years from “I have a dream” to “”We cannot allow our brand to be abused.”

As the legend on the image at right says, “that change is gonna come.” Bills, checks and credit cards gonna come, too.

Is that really the Promised Land?

PETA: Presumptuous Endorsement-Taking Advertisers

They’re back!

Parody PETA Logo Animal “rights” nutjob group and selective-intellectual-property-enforcer PETA has photoshopped a picture of (my dear, dear friend) Michelle Obama into an ad, creating an unauthorized endorsement by her of its harebrained efforts at interspecies moral confusion and human protein deprivation.  Thus is created one of those grand moments when two seemingly distant LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION® streams — PETA’s hypocrisy on IP and the Obamas’ ongoing problems with First Family image appropriation — coalesce.  It is blog nirvana.

PETA has a very logical answer to why it did this without asking.  It’s the same basis as the one on which PETA was appointed class representative for beasties, vermin, fauna and, presumably, flora too:

PETA President Ingrid Newkirk says the group didn’t seek Mrs. Obama’s consent because they know that she can’t make such an endorsement.

Very special.  Especially with a burger.

No joke

Noel Sheppard (via Insty) smells a rat:

Laughs Last

Laughs Last

[T]he photo sharing website Flickr removed the Obama Joker picture that was later transformed into posters showing up in cities around the country.

At the time, Flickr claimed it had acted on advice of counsel due to legal issues involving copyright infringement.

Yet, according to Thomas Hawk, none of the conceivably interested parties filed a complaint with Flickr . . .

Community Manager Heather Champ (in a Help Forum thread that has subsequently been shut down) . . . told Flickr users that the reason why the image was removed was that someone filed a DMCA request to take it down. . . .

[N]ow PDN is saying that they have contacted spokespeople at TIME Magazine, DC Comics, and the photographer who took the original image for Time Magazine, Platon, and all are denying having filed a DMCA takedown notice against this image. Apparently the photographer Platon’s office wasn’t even aware of the Obama/Joker issue.ow PDN is saying that they have contacted spokespeople at TIME Magazine, DC Comics, and the photographer who took the original image for Time Magazine, Platon, and all are denying having filed a DMCA takedown notice against this image. Apparently the photographer Platon’s office wasn’t even aware of the Obama/Joker issue.

As one would think the only parties with a possible copyright issue are Time, DC Comix, and the photographer, and these three apparently didn’t submit a DMCA notice, Flickr either acted on its own to take down a picture it didn’t like or management is protecting the identity of the complainant.

Regardless of which is the case, it appears Flickr is engaging in its own form of political censorship by either acting unilaterally or complying with the wishes of a party possessing no legal right to the picture in question.

Laughs Best

Laughs Best

It doesn’t “appear” that way to me.  It appears to me that Flickr was acting prudently because, indeed, there are “legal issues involving copyright infringement.”   Like the previous Obama-image flaps, they could go either way, but why on earth should Flickr / Yahoo take the bullet?

Is it possible that Flickr, or someone at Flickr, fibbed, or flubbed, about a DMCA complaint?  Sure.   It’s also possible that someone at  TIME Magazine or DC Comics, or the photographer, isn’t reporting the whole truth either.  What if it wasn’t a DMCA takedown notice, but it was a cease and desist letter?  Or a phone call?  Or a note tied to a brick?

Whatever it was, I don’t see censorship (even “corporate censorship”; we all know Flickr can pull whatever it wants from its private service) here — the pic is out there, and it’s not going back into the bottle. Flickr’s hosting of it is nothing but rolling exposure.

When you’re a hammer, you know, everything looks like a nail.  Noel Sheppard, I guess, is the “left-wing conspiracy” kind of hammer.  He’s not wrong when it comes to the hardly equal press treatment and “outrage” over this show of disrespect to the President.
But me, I’m the “responsible stewardship of private commercial interests in light of a non-trivial threat of copyright infringement liablity” kind of hammer, I suppose, and I have my own biases.  But biased as I am, I can hardly imagine a more komical kause for konstitutional or kopyright koncern.

Head of State

Sounds almost ordinary enough at first — this tweet from @EFF:

Another Obama image fair use controversy: http://bit.ly/vhWCk

Oh, sure. Another vhWCk?!  What are you, stoned?

Whoah, no.  Much better!  No, no, no.

Oh, ma-a-a-a-a-a-a-n!:

Don't worry, it's only a cigarette!  They were cheap back then!

Don’t worry, it’s only a cigarette! They were cheap back then!

It was only a matter of time before someone combined a certain memorable image of a young future president with a jokey twist on his campaign slogan … to come up with a message that Barack Obama definitely did not approve. The folks at the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws got there first. For their annual conference poster, they took an old photo of cool-dude college freshman Obama puffing away — on a regular cigarette, mind you — and tweaked it just ever so slightly to fit their message: “Yes We Cannabis.”

Think it might be a problem for the president (who opposes legalization)? It’s really a problem for the photographer. Lisa Jack, an Obama classmate at Occidental College, snapped the image in 1980, one in a series of photos that never saw the light of day until she debuted them in Time’s 2008 Person of the Year issue. She had no idea her photo had been appropriated by NORML until we told her Tuesday.

And… is it really a problem for NORML? Maybe. A copyright lawsuit could bankrupt them, so yeah, dude, bummerrrrr.

But the ten minutes of news interest in an organization you haven’t heard of since Sister Mary Elephant hung up her habit? Priceless!

UPDATE:  There’s still more Obama-likeness legal news?  No joke!  (HT to Glenn.)

HIGHER UPDATE:  Randazza with riffs on the spliffs.

Scandalous mark by anybama’s standard

We’ve wondered aloud here whether there’s any life left in the “scandalous or immoral” ground for refusal of trademark registration. Looks like there’s plenty. The Smoking Gun reports:

Government officials have rejected a Florida man’s bid to trademark the term “Obama bin Laden,” ruling that the conflation of the names of a U.S. Senator and the world’s leading terrorist was “scandalous” and wrongly suggested a connection between the politician and the mass murderer.

(Hat tip to David Krell.) On the one hand, at least someone, in the worst possible taste, has perhaps alerted the two men of each others’ existence, as incomparable as they are.  That is something, evidently — as far as I can tell, the Senator doesn’t seem to have much to say about the murderer. Okay, so I’m not the biggest Barack Obama fan — but this is disgusting, on a lot of levels. Thanks to the PTO for dealing with it swiftly.