'Kony 2012' Filmmakers Can't Take Parody; Send Cease-And-Desist Claiming Copyright & Trademark Infringement

from the hello-copyfraud dept

It’s really quite amazing how frequently those targeted by parody freak out and reach for intellectual property law in an attempt to silence the speech directed at them. The latest is the group “Invisible Children”, which became quite famous (or infamous) earlier this year for the viral success of the “Kony 2012” video, which sought to build support for arresting Joseph Kony. Apparently a group of NYU grad students created a website called Kickstriker, which is a parody of Kickstarter, but to pretend that it’s a crowdsourcing campaign to hire people to go get Kony.

However, as Wired’s Danger Room blog discovered, Inivisible Children doesn’t like being parodied. So they sent a cease-and-desist arguing that it violated both their copyrights and trademarks.

“It has come to our attention that you are causing public confusion through your use of Invisible Children’s copyrighted and trademarked property on www.kickstriker.com. This impermissible use is a blatant and egregious infringement of Invisible Children’s valuable copyright and trademark rights,” reads a letter Invisible Children sent last week and acquired by Danger Room. “[F]ailure to cease and desist your unlawful use of Invisible Children’s intellectual property will result in legal action.”

Among Invisible Children’s demands: “Confirm in writing that you have permanently deleted all electronic copies of the unauthorized and infringing materials from any computers, servers, or other distribution media”; take down any links to Invisible Children’s material; and declare “in a prominent location” that Kickstriker is “in no way associated with Invisible Children, Inc. or the Kony 2012 campaign.”

Thankfully, the students behind Kickstriker appear to know that these demands are ridiculous and have replied, with an explanation of fair use. You would think, in this day and age, that someone might have explained all that to the Invisible Children folks before they sent the takedown.

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Comments on “'Kony 2012' Filmmakers Can't Take Parody; Send Cease-And-Desist Claiming Copyright & Trademark Infringement”

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Anonymous Coward says:

when there is no punishment for falsely claiming copyright infringement, patent infringement or trademark infringement, why would anyone worry about trying this sort of thing? a lot of instances are won because those accused know no better so, if it can be gotten away with, there are those that will try it on

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Actually, many of the laws regarding the enforcement of IP come with penalty of perjury for takedowns done in bad faith. The DMCA has one such penalty applied to it for false takedown requests.

Of course, none of those are actually enforced because feigning ignorance about the law seems to be a good enough defense for the offending party, but not a good enough defense for the defending party. So we never hear about the thousands of false DMCA takedowns ever being addressed in court.

Benjo (profile) says:

Re: Confused

The site is a work of satire. I think it’s coming from the angle that the general online populous likes to pat themselves on the back for “supporting” a good cause. The KONY 2012 lacked direction and purpose. Kony was just the most marketable dictator in Africa, and removing him or killing him would do nothing to help the people living there.

KONY 2012: stopping terrorism one Reddit upvote / Facebook like at a time.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: * KONY 2012 *

I represent Cthulhu Dagon and I must insist you stop using our trademarked phrase “Why settle for the lesser evil?” as it is likely to cause confusion with the public.

Please clear this matter up before my Lord strikes you down with madness.

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn

Bob Bul Head Esq.
Intellectual Property Law LLC.

PT says:

I think the objection is probably less to the mention of the Koni 2012 video and more to the implied criticism on the ‘about’ page –

“While “Kony 2012″ succeeded at raising awareness and connecting potential activists with an issue, it ultimately failed due to suspicions regarding the role that Invisible Children played as a middleman.”

In other news, expect them soon to receive a takedown from Academi, for reminding the public that this friendly-sounding company used to be called Blackwater.

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