The Nasty Spying Agency, aka the National Security Agency, has ordered an online retailer peddling a NSA-parody T-shirt to cease and desist, citing copyright infringement.
Online freedom-product marketer Libertymaniacs.com designed a shirt with a modified NSA logo with the bottom words “United States of America” replaced by “Peeping While You’re Sleeping.” Beneath the logo was printed the words, “The NSA The only part of government that actually listens.”
Nasty Spying Agency spooks weren’t amused. So their lawyers, schooled in convincing judges to void the Constitution so they can illegally spy on Americans but clueless about public relations, crafted an ominous-sounding “cease and desist” letter and mailed it to Libertymaniac’s online sales site Zazzle.com. Zazzle caved and pulled it from its site, explaining:
Unfortunately, it appears that your product, The NSA, contains content that is in conflict with one or more of our acceptable content guidelines. We will be removing this product from the Zazzle Marketplace shortly.
Policy Notes: Design contains an image or text that may infringe on intellectual property rights. We have been contacted by the intellectual property right holder and we will be removing your product from Zazzle’s Marketplace due to infringement claims.
As the T-shirt is clearly a parody it is not a copyright infringement and is free speech protected under the 1st Amendment, according to the American Bar Association. In Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, “parody is the ‘use of some elements of a prior author’s composition to create a new one that, at least in part, comments on that author’s works.’ Id. at 580. Like other forms of comment or criticism, parody can provide social benefit, ‘by shedding light on an earlier work, and, in the process, creating a new one.’ Id. In other words, parodies can be considered ‘transformative’ works, as opposed to merely ‘superseding’ works. Since transformative works ‘lie at the heart of the fair use doctrine’s guarantee of breathing space within the confines of copyright,’ the more transformative the parody, the less will be the importance of other § 107 factors that may weigh against a finding of fair use. Id. at 579.”
Libertymaniacs owner Dan McCall told journalist Ben Swann,“I tried to visually take the most obvious direction at pointing at them that I could. It was their logo. I just tried to adulterate it a little bit and put a few jabs in there and that will be it. So it wasn’t a huge design coup and it did the job basically.
“Well, on the positive side,” McCall said, “I could get the unenviable honorific of being ‘the 1st man to receive a cease and desist from the National Security Agency for telling a joke.”
McCall has proven undeterred by this egregious attack on free speech. He found another online sales site, Cafepress.com, to sell his NSA-parody shirts.
Before the NSA crackdown the NSA shirts would likely have passed along largely unnoticed in the 29 web pages of shirts McCall was selling. By bringing attention to it, criminal NSA lawyers have ensured McCall will see a spike in sales.
Get yours while they’re hot.
Hat tip: WND.com