Pippa Middleton Sends Legal Threats Over Parody Twitter Account

from the obviously-feels-she-has-reputation-to-burn dept

Like most tragic stories, this one starts with a wedding and ends with legal threats. And like many of these stories, the middle part contains a guide to entertaining and a parodic Twitter account.

Pippa Middleton, whom I'm sure many of you are aware of even if you're not completely aware you're aware [cultural osmosis], is perhaps most famous for walking behind her sister Kate Middleton and holding her train as she prepared to become the Duchess of Cambridge by marrying into the Royal Family. You may still be wondering why she's famous, so here's Google's suggestions for further research. (You'll likely only need the first suggestion.)



Perhaps Pippa Middleton felt she needed to get out from under her married-up sister's shadow or maybe she's always had an urge to create, but whatever the impulse, Middleton cranked out a book full of cooking and entertaining tips entitled "Celebrate: A Year of Festivities for Family and Friends."

There's nothing inherently wrong with this. Plenty of people on various tiers of celebrity have written and published books, capitalizing on their fame. The problem was that Middleton's book was aimed at a very niche audience for which her title would be their first book on entertaining and, quite possibly, their first book ever.

Middleton's well-meaning but entirely vapid Celebrate offered the following "tips" to would-be celebrators.
For Hallowe'en, how about pumpkin soup served in a hollowed-out pumpkin?

To stop cakes going stale, she advises storing them in something called "an airtight tin", while hot drinks for picnics should be poured from flasks into "mugs or paper cups".

Elsewhere, she explains the rules of a game of conkers and the correct way to toast marshmallows over a fire, a process that involves using "a long-handled fork" and "flames".

Could it be more basic? Why not try roasting a turkey for Christmas or lighting small candles on a cake to celebrate a birthday? Hey, here's another crazeee idea — what about making pancakes for Pancake Day?
As the reviewer notes, it's the perfect book for someone who's misplaced their recipe for ice. This glossy set of sub-common-sense instructions was soon being parodied by @Pippatips on Twitter. As can clearly be seen by the profile, it's a parody account.


This account was soon dispensing pearls of wisdom on par with Middleton's book to over 50,000 followers.
if you're shopping on a budget, try purchasing things that cost less to buy

commuting can be a useful way of travelling between home and work, and even back home again

make it easier for your friends to enjoy TV shows they haven't watched yet by telling them what happens

enhance the effectiveness of appliances such as dishwashers by actually turning them on

if someone suggests place mats or coasters as a present for someone smile politely and keep looking for something nice
The success of this Twitter account soon led to a book deal, resulting in "When One Is Expecting: A Posh Person's Guide to Pregnancy and Parenting." The success of the Twitter account and book soon led to this dubious (even for Britain and its notoriously libel-lawsuit-friendly climate) legal action.
Although the duo's book was published in June, Middleton's lawyers Harbottle & Lewis have written to the book's publishers, Icon Books, to demand the @Pippatips Twitter account be deleted.
Now, why the publisher was approached is unclear. The Twitter account is independent of the publisher and existed before the book deal. However, the instinct is to go where you think the money is, especially in frivolous lawsuits. Obviously, this first salvo failed. The parody account is still live.

What the legal teams plans to follow up this first failure with remains to be seen. It would be very difficult to believe there's any sort of libel or defamation occurring, which is usually the direction this sort of thing tends to go. If Middleton is offended by this parody, she's sabotaged herself by drawing attention to the Twitter account (and by extension, the book that parodies her "basic" writing style).

This may be a poor attempt to extract a little revenue from a rival publisher. Middleton was advanced a reported £400,000 for the book, but low sales saw her publisher reduce the cover price 75% in hope of moving some units. She was also dropped from the publisher's roster as well as by her literary agent. This sort of spectacular crash sometimes results in desperate measures -- like poorly thought-out legal action.

Until the other foot falls, @Pippatips remains in business and its spinoff book is still selling. Both will probably see a boost in traffic thanks to Middleton's inability to handle being parodied.




Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Jul 17th, 2013 @ 9:00am

    Perhaps it is an attempt to boost sales of her original book. Ironically, it probably will help her original book because the lawsuit will draw attention to both the parody and the original. Maybe there is a new #PippinTip in here somewhere:

    "If you are famous mainly because of your association with someone else who is famous, sue other people to keep your name in the papers."

     

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  2.  
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    Lord Binky, Jul 17th, 2013 @ 10:18am

    I would have sworn after reading the review paragraph she successfully published a book to troll it's target audience. In fact, I still prefer this theory. It is too painful to consider otherwise.

     

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  3.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jul 17th, 2013 @ 10:23am

    Aaaaaaaand... subscribed.

     

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  4.  
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    Lord Binky, Jul 17th, 2013 @ 10:27am

    Re:

    I just can't imagine someone being serious if they say suggest hold this paper cup (which offers no thermal protection and is coated with wax as the only means of making it able to hold liquid) while I pour a hot beverage into it for you. The only thing that could make it better is if they followed it with "Trust me, I've done this before".

    I should use that as an interview problem to see how people react.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2013 @ 10:35am

    Pippa is "World's Dumbest Blonde"

    Pippa Middleton clearly takes the world title for "World's Dumbest Blonde" and she takes it away from Jenny McCarthy who seems to think that vaccinations can cause autism.

    lols

    Pippa, you take the cake for "World's Dumbest Blonde" and I get the fact that you're not blonde. You don't have to be blonde to be the World's Dumbest Blonde.

    lols

     

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  6.  
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    TheLastCzarnian (profile), Jul 17th, 2013 @ 10:46am

    Cultural Reference

    For those who are unaware of the British Upper Class, please see Monty Python: Upper Class Twit of the Year
    Pippa is well within the intellect of her peers. And office supplies.

     

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  7.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Jul 17th, 2013 @ 10:47am

    Famous for being famous.

    We say that way too often these days. What a sad commentary on the state of our society.

     

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  8.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jul 17th, 2013 @ 10:51am

    Re:

    I'm sure you followed one of their very useful tips such as "enhance the utility of your computer by actually turning it on" or something?

     

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  9. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Jul 17th, 2013 @ 10:52am

    She's famous because idiots like this minion write about her.

    And it's pieces like this that make me mock Techdirt for posing as sophisticated, but actually exposing itself as childish and trivial. The Masnick effect.

     

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  10.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jul 17th, 2013 @ 10:52am

    Sadly, if there was a computer guide that basic it would be perfect for my mother.

     

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  11.  
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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Jul 17th, 2013 @ 10:59am

    Re: Cultural Reference

    No generalisation is ever true.. including this one.

    Yours, however, is less true than most... nice reference though.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2013 @ 11:05am

    She should blame her publisher for encouraging her to write a book before finding out if she could write anything worthwhile. Being famous because of her sister is not enough to get people to buy.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2013 @ 11:12am

    Ah, now I know where e-how gets its articles.

     

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  14.  
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    Lord Binky, Jul 17th, 2013 @ 11:15am

    Re: Re: Cultural Reference

    But a tautology is always true.

     

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  15.  
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    Lord Binky, Jul 17th, 2013 @ 11:16am

    I think book should get put into an audiobook... with a speak'nsay as the voice.

     

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  16.  
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    Trelly (profile), Jul 17th, 2013 @ 11:23am

    If your audience is not able to comprehend your thorough instructions, perhaps consider releasing your intellectual property as a pop-up book.

    How long until she files patents on her ideas and sues people for $3,400 in reverse-class-action suits? After all, her invention of using a long fork for roasting a marshmallow on an open fire (closed fires are owned by NSA). She could name them SaltmarshMallows.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2013 @ 11:35am

    unfortunately, this is the sort of thing that is found when people who know nothing except how to enjoy 'the high life' try to exist outside of that circle. she is a very good looking girl and will no doubt meet someone that is more concerned with his wife's looks than her brain. i hope so anyway.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2013 @ 12:36pm

    Next step for the parody:

    Pippa Middleton meets John Madden!


    I could see the Twitter account's followers doubling overnight!

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2013 @ 1:05pm

    I was watching Mark Boyle talking about how to live without money.

    Then I got to read about how to make a salad from dandelions leafs, dandelion coffee from its roots and dandelion wine from its flowers and was reading the NIH(U.S. National Institutes of Health) about Dandelions benefits, there was also some university papers on the subject that I read.

    Then I got to read about making tiny houses and was pondering how to use a cotton candy machine to produce PET fibers for insulation, after needle felting them into a mat.

    Then I come here and read the words:
    Quote:
    "Pippa Middleton, whom I'm sure many of you are aware of even if you're not completely aware you're aware [cultural osmosis]"


    Which I have no idea who that is, and even after searching for it, I still don't know who that is, I saw the photos. But was laughing at some book quotes from the parody people.

    Why does she care that others are mocking her?
    Why is that important?

    Is that some sort of "I am being bullied and I must fight back" thing?

    I get that it hurts to be mocked in public but why does it matter?
    Doesn't she has people who love her?

     

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  20.  
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    Internet Zen Master (profile), Jul 17th, 2013 @ 1:36pm

    Re:

    And based on how many calls computer-literate people (both professional and hobbyist) get for help about rather basic problems.

    Example:

    Caller: My new desktop computer won't turn on!

    Tech: is it plugged into the wall?

    Caller:...Uh, no? Should it be?

    Tech: *sigh* Yes. It's not a laptop computer, it doesn't have internal batteries!

    Caller: *completely missed everything after "not a laptop computer"* See honey! I told you we should've bought one of them new-fangled tablet computers!

    Tech: *headdesk*

    At least, that's how I imagine a lot of tech support conversations go.

    So yeah, a computer guide that basic would really help the world, not just your mother. And it would mean the people with actually computer issues wouldn't be stuck on hold for eternity plus a day...

     

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  21.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Jul 17th, 2013 @ 1:52pm

    Re:

    Technically she is famous for being related to someone who is famous for being married to someone who is famous. And that person is only famous because of birth.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2013 @ 2:00pm

    Awesome book! Here are a few of the more insightful passages.

    "If you want to eat you first have to put food in your mouth."

    "If you're on fire run to the nearest gas station."

    "If you're reading this book you're probably retarded"

    "When being pulled over run at the police with a knife."

    "If you break a bone go to the doctor get some Vicodin and send them to me."

     

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  23.  
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    Nick, Jul 17th, 2013 @ 2:06pm

    Who is suing?

    Who exactly is suing? Is it Pippa Middleton? Her publisher? Or both?

     

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  24.  
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    McCrea (profile), Jul 17th, 2013 @ 4:01pm

    Writing your first book is no cause for worry. To start, simply write down what you know. Soon you will be comfortable writing about other matters!

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2013 @ 5:47pm

    Well, maybe one day in the future archeologists will find a copy of her book and use it to try to reencenate how was life in the early second milleniun. Or maybe its a guide to aliens for how to live among humans. So yeah, it has a potential public. Maybe her editor tought all those aliens from Doctor Who would be interested?

     

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  26.  
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    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Jul 17th, 2013 @ 7:22pm

    Re: Who is suing?

    Middleton's lawyers are threatening Fake Pippa's book publisher. I think Pippa's (the real one) publisher is staying out of it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jul 18th, 2013 @ 12:13am

    Re: Re:

    "At least, that's how I imagine a lot of tech support conversations go."

    As someone who worked in the trenches doing phone tech support for a major retailer many years ago... Not really. A lot of them are far worse.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jul 18th, 2013 @ 4:36am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I can imagine. My mother can turn on a computer and she can do a few stuff without too much problems. What I find it annoying in her and it happens on many computer illiterate ppl is that she is not interested in learning because she can always call me or the tech support. Many of those 'illiterates' simply hate technology and refuse to learn.

    I can understand why there are huge botnets out there...

     

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  29.  
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    dennis deems (profile), Jul 18th, 2013 @ 6:00am

    Re:

    Splendid!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    Sheogorath (profile), Jul 18th, 2013 @ 8:26am

    Re: Re:

    I just can't imagine someone being serious if they say suggest hold this paper cup (which offers no thermal protection and is coated with wax as the only means of making it able to hold liquid) while I pour a hot beverage into it for you.
    I guess you've never seen a Starbucks (Starbuccaneers) cup.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Lord Binky, Jul 18th, 2013 @ 10:22am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The standard starbucks cup still has the additional sleeve for hot beverages.

    I will say I am unaware of anywhere you can buy similar paper cups in bulk such that it is somewhat common that people would use them at whatever shindig being hosted with hot beverages.

     

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  32.  
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    Sheogorath (profile), Jul 22nd, 2013 @ 11:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    True, Starbuccaneers cups are double-walled and it's hard to find such cups in retail stores, however, I can still destroy your point. In the UK, 'paper cup' is a colloquial term for any type of disposable drinking vessel, including plastic cups. If the 'paper' cup in question is actually a polystyrene one, the simple addition of a paper serviette would reduce the risk of burning to nothing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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