While Donald Trump complains about the “violation” of his free speech on Twitter, his campaign recently forced the removal of a political cartoon by Nick Anderson from the Redbubble website. Anderson is protesting the action with the help of the CBLDF.
Redbubble, like Cafe Press and other swag sites, produces T-shirts, mugs, stickers and whatnot with the image of your choice, and Anderson has been using it to provide products to fans of his political cartoons. Citing “trademark infringement,” the Trump Campaign demanded the website remove the cartoon because it didn’t have permission to use the word MAGA on red hats in a cartoon drawn by Anderson.
The AAEC has signed on to a letter from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund pointing out the clear violation of Anderson’s First Amendment rights, and requesting Redbubble reinstate the cartoon on the product site.
“The removal arises from a meritless complaint by the Trump re-election campaign. The cartoon constitutes speech protected by the First Amendment, and its removal misuses mechanisms designed to protect intellectual property to suppress protected speech.”
UPDATE: Redbubble has relented and restored Anderson‘s Trump cartoon to their site. @CBLDF notes the victory, but vows they will now be vigilant in ferreting out bogus (and unConstitutional) suppression of free speech by the Trump Administration.
UPDATE II: Nick Anderson released a statement that raises some serious questions about Redbubble and the Trump Campaign tactics:
“I am pleased that Redbubble reversed their decision. I applaud them for this and for recognizing that it was an error.
“Still, there are some troubling issues raised.The cartoon was removed less than 24 hours after I posted it. I hadn’t gotten a single order for it. I doubt anyone had even seen it yet on the Redbubble site. This reveals that the Trump campaign has a system in place, trawling for material they find objectionable. If it happened to me so quickly, it likely has happened to others. How much other content has been removed this way on Redbubble and other sites?
“Also, when I received the first notice of the take down, I followed Redbubble’s instructions to protest the decision. I honestly thought the original decision was probably made by some underling, with little knowledge of copyright or trademark law, or perhaps it was even made by a bot without human eyes evaluating it. It took more than a week before Redbubble responded (in contrast to the quick response for removal). I was quite surprised that Redbubble didn’t reverse the decision. In fact, they doubled down and refused to reinstate the work.
“It was only after the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund intervened on my behalf – and the letter written by CBLDF started getting viral attention on social media – that Redbubble reversed their decision. In the end, I recognize that Redbubble did the right thing. But it must be pointed out; the President of the United States is a hypocrite who complains about the “violation” of his free speech on Twitter, then tries to actively suppress the free speech of others. These are actions of an adolescent, wannabe-authoritarian.”