Department of Homeland Stupidity: Fair Use, Parody and Satire vs the Government

The Department of Homeland Security and National Security Agency are using their muscle and copyright law to threaten a novelty store dealer with a lawsuit if he doesn’t stop selling items satirizing the snoopy bureaucracies.

Several offending to the gubmit (but I-am-12 funny to everyone else) hats, tee shirts and coffee mugs sport the words

Department of Homeland Stupidity

and the DHS logo, altered to give the eagle a dunce cap holding a bottle and a pot leaf, while the NSA parody tee shirts use the agency’s logo, altering the slogan to read

Peeping while your sleeping

Below the NSA logo is the slogan

The NSA: The only part of government that actually listens.

Another design bears the NSA’s official seal with the slogan

Spying on You Since 1952

In 2011 the NSA sent cease-and-desist orders to Zazzle.com claiming that Dan McCall’s parody images in his Zazzle online store violated laws against the use, mutilation, alteration or impersonation of government seals, so McCall moved the images over to his CafePress.com store which is a redirect from his own website, LibertyManiacs.com. He updates images based on news stories, and shows a distinct tongue in cheek libertarian attitude, billing his gear as

Freedom Products for Liberty Lovers.

Now McCall is suing the NSA and DHS on constitutional grounds, in Federal Court. In his eight-page lawsuit seeking declaratory judgment, the satirist entrepreneur claims:

use of images of the NSA and DHS seals, whether unaltered but in combination with critical text, or altered in parodic form, did not create any likelihood of confusion about the source or sponsorship of the materials on which they were available to be printed. No reasonable viewer is likely to believe that any of the materials is affiliated with or sponsored by defendants. Nor were the seals affixed to the items to be sold with any fraudulent intent.

McCall further claims that

his images make fair use of the NSA and DHS seals “to identify federal government agencies as the subject of criticism,” and are protected by the First Amendment. And he claims it’s unconstitutional for the government to forbid him from displaying and selling his parodies to “customers who want to display the items to express their own criticisms of NSA and DHS.”

Oddly the TSA has not complained about the image parodying them:

 

 

 

Hat tip: Newsvandal.com

Designer Suprised by Michelle’ Ball Gown

281x211.thumbnail.jpgDesigner John Wu was stunned to see Michelle Obama in a one shouldered, sequined frothy ivory ball gown. He told Us Magazine:

I had a box of pizza and I nearly fell over. I was sitting there with my friends, and they were screaming.

Wu–who once interned with one of Michelle’s favorite designers Narcisco Rodriquez– was approached in November to create a ball gown. His goal was to showcase Michelle’s physique, especially her arms. He sent the dress off in December, but had no clue it was going the be The Ball Gown. But the 26-year old designer is taking it all in stride:

I am giving myself today to enjoy it. Then I have to get back to work. I have a fall collection to do in two weeks. I have to stay grounded.


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