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.


BuffaloBill said...

Those MoveOn turds. Can you display a copy of the cease-and-desist letter ?

Poli Stew Cafe said...

Hi Buffalo,
Well, I can't. The Cafe Press lawyers who came out against MoveOn made me promise I wouldn't. Hey, they may be vicious beagles, but at least they were on the right side --the shopkeepers.

The letter was addressed to them from Carrie Olson at MoveOn. I'll probably do is provide a recap of it tomorrow here on this blog.

I found Move On's overreaction to be more a clue of their need to control, but I found the response to the ad by the Dems to be nothing short of feeble. So I can see how easy it was to take the Dems over!

But thanks for asking, and I hope you can help promote this fundraiser.

Sheila said...

I just read about your plight and want to encourage you to hang in there and milk this for all that you can. I'm a Democrat but MoveOn is just one vocal group that doesn't speak for me. They must be provocative even if it means squashing free expression. Ironic.

Even though CafePress backed away at first, I'm glad they got a tad bit of a backbone. I can understand the need to make money but some issues demand a little spunk.

I'll probably blog about your troubles. Good luck.

Poli Stew Cafe said...

Hey Sheila,
Well, it happened. There's no backtracking, just going forward. And to be able to do so for a greater good and to have so many people supporting our efforts is the sign of how great the people in this nation really are.

Thanks for blogging about it. And I hope you'll purchase something from our store.


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