Cheez-It Issues A Bogus DMCA Notice To Nuke A Picture It Didn't Like, Receives Dozens Of Offensive Images In Response

from the this-cracker-tastes-like-treason dept

I would assume big corporations have the funds to hire Top Legal Minds, but what do I know? Maybe I'm just making this assumption because it seems like the sort of thing you should do when you have lots of capital and a plethora of brands to watch over.

Kellogg's -- the manufacturer of Cheez-It snack crackers, along with hundreds of other foodstuffs -- is no stranger to wielding IP law like a defective, factory-second bat. Every so often, its highly paid IP lawyers take a swing with it, but seldom manage to injure anyone but themselves and the company they represent. Kellogg's has tried to assert IP dominance over toucans and Mayan imagery in the past. More recently, it went after an Australian tennis player who branded himself "Special K."

Its latest move is something else entirely. I mean, it's just as dumb but it involves copyright rather than trademarks. And it does involve the Streisand effect, which means the thing it hoped to nuke out of existence with a bogus DMCA takedown is about the only thing people see when they view responses to the Cheez-It Twitter account's tweets.

Back in late April, Cheez-It offered up some free backgrounds for snack fans to use as video chat backgrounds.

We all know what happens when you give the internet a gift. Someone's going to do something inappropriate with it. Twitter user @extremelysquid offered his sincere thanks to Cheez-It for its jpeg gifts by turning its prized cracker into a terrorist.

Here it is in all of its non-screenshot glory:

And here is Cheez-It's response to Extremelysquid's transformational artwork:

Up at Cheez-It HQ, it was presumably time for celebratory drinks. After all, eradicating a snarky menace with a bogus DMCA notice is the sort of thing that never backfires. Especially when backed with this immaculate legal rationale:

Let me just quote that for those of you who may not be able to see the image. Because it is breathtaking in its stupidity.

Description of infringement: A photoshopped image is showing our Cheez-It cracker hitting the Twin Towers. It's inappropriate, violating our copyright, garnering attention, and we'd like this tweet removed from the platform.

Let's see… even if it was "violating copyright," the rest of this cites things that aren't indicative of infringement or legal reasons for demanding the removal of content. "We don't like it" and "a lot of people are seeing it" are not justifiable reasons for content removal. And it's not infringement. It's transformative use. Cheez-It may not like it, but it doesn't get to nuke content just because it doesn't like it.

Well, actually it does. Extremelysquid's picture was removed by Twitter. But it was replaced by dozens of copies, many of them appearing in replies to Cheez-It's original tweet. And there are arguably worse variations, including the cracker being placed on the Tiananmen Square tank, as a replacement for a swastika at a Nazi rally, as the executioner of a suspected Vietcong member, etc.

Don't ask and you shall still receive. Especially when you've done a dumb thing for even stupider reasons. Chances are if Cheez-It had ignored Extremelysquid's tweet, many others would have done the same. Now its tweets are host to a variety of offensive imagery, all featuring the cracker that some suspect may have participated in the 9/11 attacks.

Filed Under: cheez-its, copyfraud, crackers, dmca, photoshop, remixing, streisand effect
Companies: kellogg


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2020 @ 10:52am

    Oh Cheezit, what have you done? Wasn't one orange menace to the world enough?

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

    • identicon
      David, 23 Jun 2020 @ 2:05pm

      Re:

      I have a suspicion that the orange is one and the same. While the existence of such a low-quality spray-on tan has been a mystery to me for the longest time, a solution of cheezits would be a viable explanation.

      Of course that raises another question: "Why oh why?". But that question is not exactly foreign to my understanding of politics.

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

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 23 Jun 2020 @ 11:11am

    Copyrighted for non approved uses only

    Strange, I don't see any © or other copyright notices, or any creative commons marks. I did see them invite any and everyone to download the pictures, without any statement of limitations. I wonder if they ever filed a copyright claim with the appropriate government agencies around the world?

    NO BACKSIES!

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

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 23 Jun 2020 @ 11:44am

    So if someone photographs a Cheez-It cracker themselves and Photoshops it into an offensive image, would the company still try to claim copyright over it? Can you copyright the image of a cracker itself?

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

  • icon
    Koby (profile), 23 Jun 2020 @ 11:47am

    Food Copyright

    While I could understand copyright claims on the box art, I am somehow skeptical that any individual cheese-it was made with any artistic design whatsoever. Can you imagine being able to copyright the look of a pretzel, or a cookie?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2020 @ 12:20pm

    Thanks Cheez-it!

    Thanks Cheez-it for bringing the picture of a Cheez-it hitting the world trade center to my attention.

    Say hello to Streisand for me!

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

  • identicon
    David, 23 Jun 2020 @ 12:21pm

    "Top legal minds"

    I would assume big corporations have the funds to hire Top Legal Minds, but what do I know?

    Big corporations have a legal department. The legal department employees are paid a salary. That means they have fixed working hours and the work gets prioritised according to the current workload at the various levels of competence and the respective importance and expected returns. Top Legal Minds are either hired for a specific case on contingency base, or at least are kept working on the top priority project with more money hinging on them than their salary is worth.

    For the kind of standard take-down notice, the job will be done by the bottom of the stack.

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

    • icon
      crade (profile), 23 Jun 2020 @ 12:39pm

      Re: "Top legal minds"

      corporations have a hierarchy of responsibility and blaming your underling is an utterly pathetic excuse.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2020 @ 12:55pm

      Re: "Top legal minds"

      For the kind of standard take-down notice, the job will be done by the bottom of the stack.

      Actually, it's more likely that the job will be outsourced to a 3rd party monitoring service that doesn't even look at what the notices are being generated against.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 23 Jun 2020 @ 1:34pm

    Cheeze-It doth protest too much

    Huh, I had no idea that Cheez-It was involved in so many terrible historical events, but since even the company seems to think that people will see those pictures and not realize that they are clearly jokes it would seem that there must be some truth to them...

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2020 @ 1:43pm

      Re: Cheeze-It doth protest too much

      I had no idea that Cheez-It was involved in so many terrible historical events

      It's like the Cheez-It is some kind of Forrest Gump of disasters.

      -The second shooter on the Grassy Knoll? A Cheez-It.
      -The Tunguska Blast? Mass Cheez-It Migration.
      -Challenger? It wasn't an O-Ring, it was a Cheez-It.
      -End of the Dinosaurs? The meteor that first brought the diabolical Cheez-It to Earth.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2020 @ 1:59pm

    So Cheez-it did 9-11.

    It's always the last ones you would expect.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2020 @ 2:54pm

    kelloggs is still a thing?

    Cheap-ass "corn"flakes made partly with chemical filler, they've dropped below the quality of store-brand stuff.

    As have pretty much all of their once-vaunted brands. Now just bottom of the barrel squeeze-dem-profits synthetic shite.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2020 @ 11:37am

    Cheez-it's. It's not cheese. It's not a cracker.

    We're not 100% on what the fuck it is, but it'll still give you diabetes AND heart problems!

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

  • icon
    Bergman (profile), 24 Jun 2020 @ 8:39pm

    Proof of bad faith?

    It's very hard to prove a DMCA takedown is worthy of a perjury charge because it's all but impossible to prove bad faith.

    But that message to Twitter asking for censoring of the image makes a content-based statement about why it should be censored.

    It seems to me that that would constitute bad faith.

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

  • icon
    tp (profile), 25 Jun 2020 @ 3:50am

    You shouldn't break kellog's...

    Kellog's corn flakes must be the cheapest children's meal available. You shouldn't break their operation. Internet can be harsh for all traditional businesses, even when there's no real need to mess with them.

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


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