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View Full Version : The White House, The Onion trade flames


The Big Cheese
10-26-2005, 08:26 AM
http://www.madison.com/tct/opinion/column/moe/index.php?ntid=59076

The Onion is using the presidential seal on one of their webpages, and the White House has taken offense to it. They sent a letter to The Onion telling them to stop. The Onion has responded as only they can. Interesting story....

excerpts....

A lot of people apparently get The Onion, but that does not necessarily include lawyers in the George W. Bush White House.

The White House recently sent The Onion a scolding letter concerning its use of the Presidential Seal on the paper's Web site.

The Onion, following Jimmy Breslin's dictum that there is no slight so small it can't be turned into a lifelong feud and milked dry in the service of publicity, has gleefully fired back.


But it's hard to imagine anyone thinking they were actually listening to Bush's weekly address.

For instance, consider how Dikkers began one recent address: "It was my sad duty this week to accept the resignation of FEMA chief Michael Brown. He was an outstanding public servant who did an excellent job in a time of crisis. Unfortunately, he leaves his post during a crucial period of rebuilding for our country, and under criticism that his sole experience for this vital post was as a failed Arabian horse judge. It is time to look forward. I will fill this post with only the finest and most upstanding judger of horses. When the lives of American citizens are at stake, only someone with a keen eye for excellence in grooming and carriage is acceptable. Therefore, this week, I named Albert Escanaba as the nominee, a county fair judge from Reed, Nebraska."

Klaskin wrote that no one could think the president sponsors or approves The Onion, pointing to the lead headline in the Oct. 13-19 Onion as proof: "Bush to Appoint Someone to Be in Charge of Country."

Ike Witt
10-26-2005, 09:22 AM
You mean that you are not reassured by the fact that this is the only thing that the White House has to worry about? Things must be better than I originally thought.

Acsenray
10-26-2005, 09:46 AM
There are actually some interesting legal issues implicated here.

Restriction of the use of the presidential seal is not governed by regular copyright or trademark law. There is a separate statute that governs its use. (There are other similar statutes, such as for the Olympics marks.) If we were talking about standard copyright or trademark law, there would be a valid argument for satire or parody. However, would such an argument apply to the presidential seal? Interesting question.

And, I might note, I can go out on the street and within 20 minutes find a street vendor selling baseball caps and sweatshirts bearing the presidential seal. How does this compare to the Onion's use?

Steve MB
10-26-2005, 10:01 AM
Restriction of the use of the presidential seal is not governed by regular copyright or trademark law. There is a separate statute that governs its use.
IIRC, that statute prohibits use of the seal in a way that would imply Presidential endorsement. Since no sane person could possibly imagine that the President is endorsing the barbs directed at him by The Onion, they ought to be in the clear.

ShibbOleth
10-26-2005, 10:42 AM
If we were talking about standard copyright or trademark law, there would be a valid argument for satire or parody. However, would such an argument apply to the presidential seal? Interesting question.

Are you trying to tell me that the current Presidency/White House is not satire or parody in it's most extreme form? Holy flurking schnitt!

Knorf
10-26-2005, 11:40 AM
This list of recommendation is what did me in:

"Dear Mr. Dixon,

"I greatly appreciate your comments regarding my Weekly Radio Address parody. But I'm surprised the president deems it wise to spend taxpayer money for his lawyer to write letters to The Onion.

"If you have a lot of extra money lying around that you don't know what to do with, here are some better ideas for spending it:

"1. How about a tax break for satirists?

"2. With indictments in 'Plamegate' forthcoming, perhaps a nice going-away present for Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, Vice President Cheney, or whoever the president may be firing. I recommend a subscription to The Onion.

"3. It has recently become obvious that there is need for some sort of federal organization to administer the management of emergencies - a hypothetical 'Federal Emergency Management Administration,' if you will. You could spend the money on that.

"4. Harriet Miers could really use a scholarship to some kind of rudimentary judge school.

"In the event there's any extra money left over after all these projects, then perhaps the president could justify paying lawyers to protect him from
comedians."

:p :D

AskNott
10-26-2005, 04:03 PM
If Dick Cheney really does have to resign, George W. Bush will be promoted to the Vice-Presidency. --from Peter Sagel, host of Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me

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