Sunday, September 30, 2007

How This Fund Raiser Started

Mind you, this story was reported last week by several diametrically opposite persons. I've heard from everyone on the political spectrum who believe in the first amendment.

The story was first run by Jon Healy of the LA Times and subsequently picked up by Edward Padgett and Michelle Malkin.

This shopkeeper
and several others were the subject of scrutiny by Carrie Olson, COO of Move On.Org. She requested to CafePress that our designs be taken down due to "trademark infringement." She closed with the name of her attorneys. Our crime? We'd used their name to criticize them when designing shirts that disagreed with their portrayal of General Petraeus.

Even though she was wrong, rather than face prolonged litigation with a
moneyed political organization, Cafe Press quickly took them down within an hour of her letter. Why? I only have to assume that the first round of CP staffers didn't understand trademark law. Maybe they were afraid of a bigger organization. Perhaps some in the Berkeley office of Cafe Press disagreed with the shirts. Maybe they really didn't understand the depths to which the First Amendment runs.

However, 2 days after they were taken down, the legal beagles at Cafe Press volleyed back to Olson, citing the First Amendment and several precedent-setting cases. They were brilliant. One only wishes they'd picked this up 2 days earlier. But it was too late. Everything had already been taken down. It appeared that Cafe Press had become a place where MoveOn.Org would never be challenged.

But Consider This

Because of the First Amendment, we have a nation that is shaped by discourse --civil or otherwise. We understand that the right to free speech is for everyone, just not those who can slap shopkeepers with the name of their attorneys at the bottom
of a letter. Furthermore, we put up with garbage like the Petraeus ad, fully expecting to be able to voice our dissent. What we don't expect is to be threatened with litigation over "trademark infringement." If we are not able to use a name (none of the original shirts taken down used their logo or font), how is anyone to criticize them?

That's why I'm proud to show you the newest design. The First Amendment design is coupled with the original Banned T-shirt logo. With apologies to Lord Voldemort, I hope that no one gets him confused with this "group that shall not be named." Even he deserves better.


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