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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.

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Comments on “Pippa Middleton Sends Legal Threats Over Parody Twitter Account”

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fogbugzd (profile) says:

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.”

Lord Binky says:

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. 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.

Sheogorath (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.


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.


Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

Re: Re:

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


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…

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: 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…

Trelly (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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:

“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?

Anonymous Coward says:

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.”

Anonymous Coward says:

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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