Comedian Agrees To Take Down Parody 'City Of Atlanta' Facebook Page, But Only For Sixty Bucks And Free Trolley Rides

from the my-hero dept

As we are quite likely in some kind of golden age for pure snark, a golden age probably in part super-charged by these here internets, it would be nice if the general public likewise had a firm grasp on the protections afforded to us by free speech rights to partake in parody and mockery. Sadly, too often the targets of such parody would rather try to silence speech than address what might be legitimate concerns. But it's when government does so that any forgiveness for this should end, as government should be particularly aware both about the free speech rights in place regarding parody and of the consequences of trying to silence criticism in any sort of ham-fisted manner.

Which brings us to the city government of Atlanta, Georgia, which appears to be trying to apply trademark law to harass a comedian whose "City of Atlanta" parody page uses a city logo, with predictably laughable results. This episode started when Ben Palmer, a local comedian, became frustrated at the machinations of city government and started a parody Facebook page, adorning it with one of the city's official seals.

Palmer started the fake City of Atlanta Facebook page when he became frustrated with numerous parking tickets, run-ins with city officials, and a lack of funds. The page uses an official city seal Palmer admits he copied from the city's Parks and Recs page. The city of Atlanta was not amused by the copyright infringement.

"The First Amendment allows people to express their opinions concerning their government in many ways, including satire. However, no person has the right to use a trademark in a manner that deceives or confuses the public," a city spokesperson said in a statement to 11Alive.

Except, of course, that's not actually true. First, there's no real deception to be taken into account here; the page is clearly parody. It is far more clear in its purpose, in fact, than many other sites on the internet, some of which can fool even Presidential campaigns. And, in the employment of this sort of parody, a satirist is allowed to use otherwise protected intellectual property. Given the entire point of the First Amendment, this must be particularly the case in the scenario of a citizen's right to criticize his or her government.

But because the city's target here is a comedian, Palmer modified the logo in a hilarious way in an effort to appease the government.


I'm sure everyone's happy now, right? But, in an effort to further thumb his nose at the Atlanta government, Palmer agreed to remove the logo entirely upon the meeting of certain demands he has outlined.

I read the news that the city of Atlanta would like me to discontinue using their logo. I will remove the logo from the page and discontinue posting as "City of Atlanta" in exchange for the following:
  • All of my parking and traffic tickets are absolved
  • $60 cash
  • 2 free rides on the trolley
This is my final offer. Thank you.

Seems reasonable. Not as reasonable as, say, a government simply letting free speech run its course and potentially paying attention to the criticism within parody to address citizen concerns. But that appears to be asking way too much.

Filed Under: atlanta, ben palmer, parody


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  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 21 Oct 2016 @ 2:55pm

    But being the 'government' who feels slighted they will burn thousands on dollars on lawyers to beat down this upstart who doesn't know his place.

    They should have given him what he wanted and 4 extra trolley rides.

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

  • icon
    Groaker (profile), 21 Oct 2016 @ 2:58pm

    Sounds to me like Atlanta has committed an act of bribery.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2016 @ 3:21pm

    Only two free rides on the trolley? I was expecting an in-perpetuity grant. What a bargain!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2016 @ 3:23pm

    This is indeed the golden age of snark. I love it, but I fear parts of 4chan are flying too close to the sun on Pepe-shaped wings of wax. I'd love it if normie institutions could understand that if something is extremely absurd on the Internet to the point of opposites combining, it's probably a troll. But instead we have people freaking out over Twitter NEETs with avatars of an anime, My Little Pony, or Pepe variety. Because for some reason, normies see nothing off with the concept of brutish skinhead neo-nazis watching cartoons meant for little girls.

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

  • icon
    art guerrilla (profile), 21 Oct 2016 @ 5:30pm

    i would like to aver otherwise...

    ...to this statement:
    "Sadly, too often the targets of such parody would rather try to silence speech than address what might be legitimate concerns."

    i am a little concerned about how people often times try to 'dress up' pure free speech issues with how that speech *might* be 'valuable' to society in some respect or another...
    while it is nice to *hope* such a thing is true, it is not and should not be a 'requirement' for allowing or defending free speech...
    free speech is its own end, NOT WHETHER said speech produces a positive outcome or not; that is totally besides the point...
    OF COURSE, it only makes sense that people who AGREE with some sort of free speech, are going to be even more outraged that such mild, sarcastic speech being -effectively- threatened if not -effectively- censored...

    free speech IS the end to defend, NOT its end that's your friend...
    hee hee hee

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2016 @ 2:51pm

    >The city of Atlanta was not amused by the copyright infringement.
    >"...However, no person has the right to use a trademark..."
    Wait a minute. Which is it? Copyright or trademark?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2016 @ 8:28am

    He should have started with free trolley rides for life, so he could have room for good faith negotiations. It would also be to his benefit to file a FOIA request to find out how much the city has spent in legal fees to fight him, then keep an updated total on his website. Have it in the form of a big fundraising thermometer.

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 24 Oct 2016 @ 6:16am

    2 free rides on the trolley

    Silly. I'd only make one request: free trolley rides for life. Much better than the other requests.

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


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