Dear HBO: Just Shut The Fuck Up About Trump's 'Game Of Thrones' Meme, Please

from the stupid-is-coming dept

There has been a drumbeat punctuating the past decade or so that goes something like: everything is political. It's not really true, of course, but that mantra is used by those who want to inject politics into everything as an excuse for doing so. That makes the world a much more tiresome place to exist. Unfortunately, it seems both that politics really does infect aspects of our lives it should not, as does intellectual property bullshit.

Which brings us to Donald Trump and his fairly lame Game of Thrones meme he tweeted out, apparently as a warning shot of TBA foreign policy towards Iran.

Herr Trump tweeted this out on November 2nd and did indeed follow up with new sanctions on Iran on the fifth. The analogy, of course, doesn't really work, since the "winter" from GoT refers to the whitewalker zombies and the whole phrase is a warning about what this evil army will do when they arrive, rather than being some kind of call to arms against an evil army... but I digress. Whatever you think of the meme or Iran sanctions generally, there was very little offense to find in any of this.

But there was a great deal of fun to be had by the internet in response.

Folks began responding with memes of their own—”Indictments Are Coming” etc.—and even the show’s cast got involved. Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa Stark, replied“Ew,” and Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), in perhaps the best Twitter drag of the day, retweeted the president and just added “Not today.” (“Not today,” for those who don’t remember, is what Arya Stark’s swordfighting instructor, Syrio Forel, told her is what she should say to the god of death.)

Pretty standard fare in our Twitter politpocaplyse through which we are all living. And, again, judging by other news cycles we're forced to endure on what feels like a weekly basis, this is pretty tame and non-offensive.

Which is what makes it strange that HBO decided to pretend there was a trademark issue in any of this.

Despite being a fan of the show, I don't know the answer to this question. Which doesn't really matter, because it's an irrelevant question to begin with. Nothing about Trump's tweet and meme is in any way trademark misappropriation or infringement. There is no public confusion. No common marketplace. This is purely fair use. And HBO should know as much, so litigious and bullying have they been in the past -- both generally and specifically when it comes to Game of Thrones.

So, HBO... just don't. It already seems like politics invades everything, and intellectual property invades everything. Combining the two? That's way worse than any army of whitewalkers.


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  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 7 Nov 2018 @ 10:38am

    A Fish Stinks from the Head First

    One must wonder if it is actually HBO or their new corporate masters trying to play the game without thrones. To think that every line from Game of Thrones is trademarked is so delusional that one might beleive that it is someone from AT&T is the one doing the thinking.

    Warner Media (the entity that controls HBO and that is owned by AT&T) probably has people who are familiar with how show scripts work and therefore know better than to assume trademark where copyright is the actual answer, so moving up the ladder toward the unknowing brass sitting in the throne room at AT&T seems like a good probability.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2018 @ 11:16pm

      Re: A Fish Stinks from the Head First

      Mmmmmm.. canned stinky heads! Such a delicacy in the great white north!

      I don't have to be politically correct. I am so fucking tired of those who do have to be politically correct trying to micromanage our American lives. STOP.

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

  • icon
    Gary (profile), 7 Nov 2018 @ 12:19pm

    Everything...

    Don't be silly - everything is owned, you need (to purchase) permission before you can just start tossing words out like that!

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2018 @ 12:20pm

    Dear HBO: Just Shut The Fuck Up About Trump's 'Game Of Thrones' Meme, Please

    "But don't mind us adding to the noise."

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2018 @ 12:30pm

    This is purely fair use.

    Even this goes too far. Fair use is an affirmative defense of infringement. For a trademark, this isn't even infringement in the first place. There's no need for an affirmative defense because there quite simply isn't anything to defend.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2018 @ 12:30pm

    HBO would think differently if they had a show on the air that heavily relied on fair use images of not only Trump, but also other companies intellectual property. But alas, they don't seem to have anything on at night -- Tonight, you might say -- recapping all of Last Week.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2018 @ 12:32pm

    Pot meet kettle

    "There has been a drumbeat punctuating the past decade or so that goes something like: everything is political. It's not really true, of course, but that mantra is used by those who want to inject politics into everything as an excuse for doing so. That makes the world a much more tiresome place to exist."

    Everything is political, no exception. Never has been any other way... from the words you speak to the food you eat someone is looking to control it for power or wealth.

    Anything can be made political at any time someone decides to make it political. The problem is more with your type... that can't let it go!

    Try getting over yourself... the world did not end when Obama was elected and it did not end when Trump was elected. It will not end when the next dirt bags is elected or gains power. There is an endless cycle of morons fighting morons and the morons bitching about it all!

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Miles Mathis, 7 Nov 2018 @ 12:32pm

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

  • identicon
    ryuugami, 7 Nov 2018 @ 12:35pm

    The analogy, of course, doesn't really work, since the "winter" from GoT refers to the whitewalker zombies and the whole phrase is a warning about what this evil army will do when they arrive, rather than being some kind of call to arms against an evil army...

    On the other hand, there's a whitewalker zombie in the image. See, it actually does work, but in a different way :D

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2018 @ 12:38pm

    How do you say trademark misuse in Dothraki?

    Faäryuuce

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

  • identicon
    John Cressman, 7 Nov 2018 @ 12:39pm

    They should have put out their own version

    HBO should have put out their own version that read

    "Lawsuit is Coming"

    At least then we could have gotten a laugh out of it.

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

  • identicon
    Christenson, 7 Nov 2018 @ 12:40pm

    HBO is coming

    Seems like a good line, for something nobody should want.

    Woulda made a neat headline!

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

  • icon
    ArkieGuy (profile), 7 Nov 2018 @ 12:49pm

    How do you say trademark misuse in Dothraki?

    Twitter seems an odd way to announce a lawsuit.

    While historically HBO hasn't had much of a sense of humor about Copyright and Trademark (OK, any) -- isn't it possible that in this case someone at HBO was simply trying to make a joke?

    I mean we can hope, right?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2018 @ 1:04pm

      Re: How do you say trademark misuse in Dothraki?

      isn't it possible that in this case someone at HBO was simply trying to make a joke?

      I hope so too, but it's a joke that shows a total lack of understanding of the Dothraki. They're warriors, not lawyers. Were they familiar with the concept of a "trademark" at all—remember that the show has a medieval setting, and the proto-trademark laws of that time didn't cover off-the-cuff remarks—they'd be using a loanword for it, only in reference to foreign cultures. So, the spoken Dothraki word would be "trademark", and there'd be no written form because they don't write.

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

  • identicon
    Comboman, 7 Nov 2018 @ 12:59pm

    Implied Endorsement

    Just as with using music at rallies, anytime politicians appropriate popular culture without permission, there is an implied endorsement. It is not trademark or copyright infringement in the traditional sense, but it is a violation of the artists' moral rights.

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

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 7 Nov 2018 @ 1:38pm

    Winter Is Coming

    While kings clash and play their games of thrones, no one is paying attention as the Long Summer ends and a winter comes in earnest, farms freeze and people die.

    While administrations clash and play games of politics and populism, no one pays attention as the climate changes, fires break out, hurricaines and typhoons hammer the coasts and droughts dry up the farmlands.

    And people die.

    It seemed like an obvious allegory.

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

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 7 Nov 2018 @ 1:51pm

      Re: Winter Is Coming

      But, but, but, where do the zombies come in?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Nov 2018 @ 2:37pm

      Re: Winter Is Coming

      Not allegory.. life imitating art.

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

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 10 Nov 2018 @ 6:36pm

        Life imitating art.

        Maybe. The notion that Westros went through long winters seemed to conflict with the degree of settlement and establishment of the Seven Kingdoms. If they're used to winters that were six, seven years long, they might still be migratory, packing everything up and moving south for a few years until it gets warm again.

        On Earth, we've occasionally had runs of bad winters thanks to a volcanic eruption half-way across the world. Usually the result was a bad famine that would wipe out half the population and inspire long-winded depressing fiction.

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

  • icon
    Thad (profile), 7 Nov 2018 @ 2:32pm

    ...has anyone from HBO actually said anything on this subject in the past five days?

    Because it kinda seems like they already shut up about it.

    (And it bears noting that HBO is not a guy. The person writing the tweets has presumably not gone to law school. Yes, it was a dumb, ignorant joke by someone whose job it is to speak on behalf of the entire organization -- but I'm not sure how much it really matters in the scheme of things.)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2018 @ 2:41pm

    And now i know more than i had ever wanted about Game of Thrones.

    (The only relation between Trump and GoT that strikes me as relevant is the title itself, and Trump's appearance when he sits, which, according to a decently observant joke, always resembles someone sitting on a toilet.)

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

  • identicon
    R. Knee, 7 Nov 2018 @ 2:44pm

    "How do you say trademark misuse in Dothraki? "

    "Tonight's forecast, a freeze is coming!"

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

  • identicon
    Glenn, 7 Nov 2018 @ 2:55pm

    "stupid is coming" ...

    Stupid is already here--has been for a couple years now. Who's gonna want to use the offal office after he's kicked out though?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2018 @ 9:48am

      Re: "stupid is coming" ...

      Too bad Mr. Kaplan is dead. We could have used her cleaning skills in the oval office.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2018 @ 11:30pm

        Re: Re: "stupid is coming" ...

        After some president of the United States of America.. the Greatest country in the history of earth has sex with a mere staffer in the whitehouse oval office? Wtf? It could have used a good cleaning then.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2018 @ 4:06pm

    Winter is coming...

    referring to the chill put on the press by Trump.

    Yeah; someone wrote on the 2nd about the HBO thing, and my immediate thought was: Er, I don't think it can be trademark misuse when Trump isn't using it for trade....

    They would have done better with patent "look and feel" or copyright abuse. Still would have been "ew" but not as off-target as bringing trademarks into bad politics.

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

  • icon
    Krolis (profile), 7 Nov 2018 @ 5:00pm

    "So, HBO... just don't. It already seems like politics invades everything,"
    You must mean like this "Herr Trump tweeted this out"?

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

    • icon
      Dark Helmet (profile), 8 Nov 2018 @ 5:21am

      Re:

      You're suggesting that I injected politics into the President of the United States tweeting something about a political and foreign policy agenda?

      .......coooooooool.

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        FZ Hunter, 8 Nov 2018 @ 11:00am

        What do "Krolis", "Narcissus", and "Dark Helmet"...

        What do "Krolis", "Narcissus", and "Dark Helmet"...

        ... have in common?

        Well, the first two have sparse comment history with LONG gaps:

        Krolis: 7 comments (1 per year!), 12 mo gap to here; 44 month gap after first Mar 28th, 2013

        https://www.techdirt.com/user/krolis

        Narcissus: 119 comments (14 avg per year but speedup in 2017 from 10) 3 year gap 8 Dec 2015 to 13 Nov 2012; 29 Mar 2011

        https://www.techdirt.com/user/narcissus

        So TWO ODD long-gap accounts on Timmy's page here. I've noted these "coincidences" as go along, isn't the first time. I conclude that here Timmy is replying to himself.

        Of course, I can't prove any other linkage with necessarily limited number of examples, but by same token when have such rare event as TWO clearly odd accounts pop out, that's interesting in itself.

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

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 8 Nov 2018 @ 12:23pm

          Re: What do "Krolis", "Narcissus", and "Dark Helmet"...

          when have such rare event as TWO clearly odd accounts pop out, that's interesting in itself.

          No, it isn't.

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

        • icon
          Dark Helmet (profile), 9 Nov 2018 @ 6:29am

          Re: What do "Krolis", "Narcissus", and "Dark Helmet"...

          Would you like to place a wager as to whether or not I'm commenting under any name than Dark Helmet? I'd literally be up for ANY amount of money you choose and would happily allow whatever transparency is required to prove this, if you'd like to put some money on the line?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Nov 2018 @ 2:46pm

      Re:

      Politics has invaded EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE. It is a national disgrace they have permeated and spread HATRED throughout America.

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

  • icon
    sumgai (profile), 7 Nov 2018 @ 6:14pm

    Be careful what you wish for, HBO...

    ... the Malodorous Orange will likely respond by calling you "Fake Entertainment".

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2018 @ 8:06pm

    So, HBO... just don't. It already seems like politics invades everything, and intellectual property invades everything. Combining the two? That's way worse than any army of whitewalkers.

    Spoiler warnings, please! I haven't seen the new season yet.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2018 @ 4:21am

    I find it amusing HBO thinks it owns GoT.

    Warner Bros. distributes GoT, technically making them the owners of anything "trademark" in use of its content.

    Given several producers actually own the show, and not one is HBO, I agree HBO should shut the fuck up.

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

  • icon
    Narcissus (profile), 8 Nov 2018 @ 7:20am

    Font

    When I saw this I was just wondering if the GoT font designer might have a claim here. Not that I'm saying they should pursue it but that is the only claim I see that could stand a chance.

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

  • identicon
    bikey, 8 Nov 2018 @ 12:27pm

    politics

    As a long-time professor of the politics of intellectual property at SUNY and other universities, I can tell you there's politics a-plenty here. The entire existence of IP is politics, particularly over the last 30 years (TRIPS? Doha Declaration? Section 301 sanctions? Access to Medicine? Biopiracy?). Mike, this is way below your pay grade but I'm a fan anyway.

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


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