Portlandia: We Satirize Portland, But If You Satirize Us, We'll Go Legal On You [Updated]

from the put-a-bird-on-it,-dammit dept

Make sure you see the update at the end...

A few months back, a friend of mine pointed me to some YouTube clips of the TV show Portlandia, the Fred Armisen/Carrie Brownstein show satirizing the city of Portland. The show is mildly amusing. However, it appears that someone involved in the show doesn't like it when anyone satirizes them. Ryan points us to the news that blogger/writer Jenny Lawson, a fan of the show, decided to use the create-your-own-products store Zazzle to make a parody of a Portlandia skit known as Put A Bird On It!.
She created a tote bag, and put a dead dodo bird on it, with the phrase "Put a bird on it!" as well. She also linked to Portlandia, and figured that people would recognize that a dead dodo bird was clearly parodying the Portlandia episode. Apparently, the Portlandia people didn't get this and issued a takedown.

That's not where the story ends.

In response, Lawson decided to then mock the takedown itself, with this lovely design:
With it, she included the following text:
And... it took all of a day for Portlandia people to issue a takedown on that as well. This is both lame and idiotic.

It also turns out that Lawson is not one to give up easily, especially when being bullied in a ridiculous manner. She's now created three new designs -- one, two and three, testing just how far Portlandia lawyers want to go in this little dance. Designs below:


Put a herd on it, indeed. Honestly, it makes you wonder what the legal folks involved with Portlandia are thinking. I know it's made me not particularly interested in watching any more of the show.

Update: Looks like the Portlandia crew themselves didn't know this was happening. There's now an update on the post:
Holy crap, y’all. I just got an email from Fred Armisen (co-creater and co-star of Portlandia), telling me that he and Carrie have no clue why those bags were banned, and that they think they’re fabulous. Then he asked how they could help, and he and Carrie offered to sign some of the bags personally. Which explains exactly why I love Portlandia, social media, and birds. I considered making one saying “Carrie and Fred personally approve of the birds on this bag” (and then have them sign it, along with a notary public), but instead I just suggested that they sign one and auction it off to a charity that rescues birds from crack houses. And we’d call it The GET-A-BIRD-OUT-OF-THERE Auction. No word yet from Fred. It’s possible I may have frightened him.
Cool response to a bad situation that never should have happened in the first place...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    velox (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 11:12am

    She picked the wrong "bird" symbol to put on her bag.

     

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

  2.  
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    Meek Barbarian (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 12:07pm

    confused...

    So, if they own all the birds ...
    And the bird IS the word ...
    do they own all the words?

    I am pretty sure I just committed 41 counts of copyright, with all these word I just used. 43 if you count the numbers.

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    HothMonster, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 12:12pm

     

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

  4.  
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    Matthew (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 12:15pm

    Dear Portlandia,

    The Bloggess is funnier than your show. You should be thanking her for the exposure. Stop acting like the kind of uptight douchebags that your show so often mocks.

     

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

  5.  
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    HothMonster, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 12:18pm

    Re: Dear Portlandia,

    apperntly the people who actually make the show like the bags. Check the update in the blogpost linked below. Its just some lawyers searching for some billable time.

    http://thebloggess.com/2011/09/dear-portlandia-really/#comment-115802

     

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

  6.  
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    GeneralEmergency (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 12:21pm

    Obligitory...

    .

    What did Portlandia just do to their public relations?


    Why, they "Put a turd on it!".

    .

     

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

  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 12:24pm

    There is another bird that I would add to one of the bags.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 12:25pm

    I wonder who was sending these takedown requests. My guess is it's someone in-house at IFC, but who knows.

    Are the takedown requests posted anywhere?

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 12:32pm

    From the blog:

    UPDATED: Holy crap, y’all. I just got an email from Fred Armisen (co-creater and co-star of Portlandia), telling me that he and Carrie have no clue why those bags were banned, and that they think they’re fabulous. Then he asked how they could help, and he and Carrie offered to sign some of bags personally. Which explains exactly why I love Portlandia, social media, and birds. I considered making one saying “Carrie and Fred personally approve of the birds on this bag” (and then have them sign it along with a notary public), but instead I just suggested that they sign one and auction it off to a charity that rescues birds from crack houses. And we’d call it The GET-A-BIRD-OUT-OF-THERE Auction. No word yet from Fred. It’s possible I may have frightened him.

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    Dan, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 12:37pm

    It's too bad those designs are terrible!

     

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

  11. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 12:43pm

    Ignorant as usual.

    Your continued ignorance on IP is astonishing mikey. If someone creates content, and someone else blatantly rips off that content to make a buck, generally people have a problem with that, naturally. Satirizing a city, is completely different from satirizing something a business created.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 12:47pm

    Re: Ignorant as usual.

    Intellectual property is a creature of law. It's not just whatever "people generally have a problem with."

    People may have problems with lots of things that are perfectly legal.

     

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

  13.  
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    Cowardly Anon, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 12:49pm

    Re:

    I feel she should make that one...more people might buy it. :)

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 12:51pm

    Re: Ignorant as usual.

    you forgot /sarc

     

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

  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 12:51pm

    Re: Ignorant as usual.

    The title of your post is so apropos to your point of view.

    Satire is satire, whether the target is a government, an individual, or a business.

    Only someone ignorant of the law would think the target defines its own ability to be satirized.

     

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

  16.  
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    HothMonster, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 12:53pm

    Re: Ignorant as usual.

    I have a problem with your opinion and attitude. Pay me, NOW.

    But seriously you're right. This blogger took away the shows highly lucrative Zazzle market, that must be stopped. She even had the audacity to credit them, tell her many many followers how great the show is and have a sense of humor. What a bitch.

     

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

  17.  
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    Vincent Clement (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 12:54pm

    Re: Ignorant as usual.

    Are you saying that if a company 'creates' something, and it is a huge flop, no one can make fun of it? Where exactly is this 'one cannot satirize content created by a business' clause in the legislation?

     

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

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 12:54pm

    Re: Ignorant as usual.

    "Satirizing a city, is completely different from satirizing something a business created."

    [Citation Needed]

    As always, you won't provide one, of course.

     

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

  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 12:56pm

    Re: Ignorant as usual.

    I think I'm going to start selling a line of shirts that uses different sentences from the above comment since it's likely it was created by a business. That's just how I roll.

     

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

  20.  
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    RobShaver (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 12:59pm

    YouTube is censoring comments ...

    I tried to post a comment on YouTube under the video but it apparently was monitoring for the name "Jenny Lawson". I tried posting it but a captia came up that always failed. I tried six different captia images. I'm sure I got at least one correct. I then tried posting a test message there. That worked. I tried "Jenny Lawson" and, again, captia that never works.

    Or maybe I'm just crazy and paranoid.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 1:02pm

    Meme

    Here in Portland the "Put a bird on it" meme has existed for several years now, well before the show.

    As mentioned above, Carrie and Fred are well aware of this and they are putting a stop to this.

     

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

  22.  
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    RobShaver (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 1:02pm

    NEWS FLASH: This just in ...

    from Jenny Lawson's blog:

    "UPDATED: Holy crap, y’all. I just got an email from Fred Armisen (co-creater and co-star of Portlandia), telling me that he and Carrie have no clue why those bags were banned, and that they think they’re fabulous."

    http://thebloggess.com/2011/09/dear-portlandia-really/

     

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

  23.  
    identicon
    Mr. Smarta**, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 1:06pm

    Send the lawyer's paperwork back

    I would send a response to the lawyers with a few pages explaining the situation and my intentions. And at the very bottom of the last page, I'd write:

    "Like the response? I put my butt on it before I sent it."

     

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

  24.  
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    Bill Silverstein (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 1:45pm

    Re: Ignorant as usual.

    Yes, you are completely correct. Satirizing a city is completely different from satirizing a business created by satire.

     

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

  25.  
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    jdub (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 2:09pm

    Next show after it should be "Lawyers Gone Wild".

     

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

  26.  
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    Tristan, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 2:21pm

    Wow.

    All the birds are belong to us.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 2:28pm

    The red bird the gets put on the card at 0:29 looks suspiciously like an old Twitter logo, so maybe the Portlandia lawyers should be expecting a takedown letter of their very own?

     

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

  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 3:13pm

    Re: confused...

    Guess I'm old enough to know your comment is hilarious...

     

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

  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 5:52pm

    All of this because of birds?

     

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

  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 6:03pm

    Re: confused...

    The Trashmen - Surfin' Bird

    Great music but we thieves can't hear it without breaking the law.

     

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

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 6:06pm

    Re: Re: confused...

    Paying for music everytime is like paying a prostitute everytime you have sex.

     

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

  32.  
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    Jay (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 7:30pm

    Re: NEWS FLASH: This just in ...

    So I guess everyone's heard now...

    The bird is the word now.

     

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

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Content, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 8:46pm

    Re: Ignorant as usual.

    So in that case I guess everything's "blatantly ripped off" already, Anonie:

    "Drop a mountain on it" - Larry Niven

    "Put up or shut up" - common usage

    "Put it in the pocket" - common usage

    "Put your hands where I can see 'em!" - common usage

    "Put a lid on it" - common usage - common usage

    "Put a cork in it" - common usage

    "Put it out to pasture" - common usage

    "Put it where the moon don't shine" - common usage


    btw, your continued arrogance appears to have been blatantly ripped off by about... 100,000,000 people throughout the history of man. Better get your lawdogs on that....

     

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

  34.  
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    Fearofmusic, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 8:57pm

    When looking at fair use, does American law make a distinction between parody and homage? Because it seems pretty clear, even from the product description, that the first bag wasn't a parody of what Portlandia was doing. The show was already implying that using bird silhouettes to decorate things was overdone and lazy; the dodo makes the same point. It is mocking the same target with the same slogan and a different image. Portlandia used satire; this seller used homage.
    Note: I'm not defending the showrunners' choice to take legal action here, I'm just wondering if anyone knows: Is homage considered as "fair" as parody and satire, or does there have to be some criticism of the target to make it more "fair"?

     

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

  35.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 9:18pm

    Re: Re: confused...

    You cannot here what?

    Could it be this word ;)

     

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

  36.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 9:22pm

    I'm wondering whether Beyoncé want's to put a ring on the bird.

    ba boom

     

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  37.  
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    Valkor, Sep 15th, 2011 @ 1:42am

    Re: Ignorant as usual.

    You're not helping by using vague, catch-all words and phrases like "IP", "rips off", and "content". You use one (1) sentence to make an argument and manage to combine fallacies of presumption, sweeping generalization, and irrelevant conclusion in it. Nice job.

    Try again, and use an example of a creative work that is inspired by a cultural event or artifact, explained in the context of the specific type of law, i.e., trademark, copyright, patent, or trade secret, and how it is violated.

     

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

  38.  
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    The eejit (profile), Sep 15th, 2011 @ 3:18am

    Re:

    No, because Jay-Z doesn't like words anymore.

     

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

  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2011 @ 11:18am

    I am thinking that it is the "hommage to portlandia" that got them in trouble, not the bird.

     

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

  40.  
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    Jenny, Bloggess, Sep 15th, 2011 @ 11:58am

    Just a follow-up

    Hi. It's me...the chick who wrote the original post. You guys are awesome and are cracking me up.

    Just wanted to mention that I've heard from Fred several times to follow up about it personally. Fred and Carrie are fans of the bags, of small businesses and of independent writers, and they're following up to make sure that legal isn't so heavy-handed in the future, while still protecting their rights. Perfect solution, handled in an amazing way, which ended with more people than ever being exposed to their show. Social media for the win.

     

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

  41.  
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    Galashiels (profile), Sep 15th, 2011 @ 6:52pm

    Design of Business Products

    I think the IP lawyers in this case went overboard. Clearly, she wasn't infringing on on anything. Are words, phrases, & memes now subject to copyright law?

    Her business of selling products based on a catchphrase from a satirical show, seems perfectly fine. There are business websites that sell T-Shirts, with satirical commentary on them that have never been attacked by lawyers. Her business shouldn't have been any different.

    Shame on Zazzle for pulling her products, & affecting her business, so quickly without proper investigation.

     

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

  42.  
    identicon
    Shannon, Mar 9th, 2012 @ 12:32am

    Cry me cry me cry me a river ,. . .

     

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


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