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White House Cease & Desists to The Onion

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the now-this-is-not-a-joke dept.

United States 781

raj2569 writes "You might have thought that the White House had enough on its plate late last month, what with its search for a new Supreme Court nominee, the continuing war in Iraq and the C.I.A. leak investigation. But it found time to add another item to its agenda - stopping The Onion (soul sucking, life sapping, irritating, obnoxious, but still free registration), the satirical newspaper, from using the presidential seal." The only joke here is that our tax dollars are being spent on this.

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This is called a "joke?" (0)

Kid Zero (4866) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871092)

If they don't want it used, then the Onion is outta luck. Satire will only cover you so far.

Re:This is called a "joke?" (1)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871164)

Well with brillant reasoning like this coming from the Onion folks:

"Moreover, she wrote, The Onion and its Web site are free, so the seal is not being used for commercial purposes. That said, The Onion asked that its letter be considered a formal application to use the seal."

Interesting take on what "commercial" means.

Re:This is called a "joke?" (5, Informative)

christopherfinke (608750) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871215)

The Onion advertises and sells goods through its website and hardcopy version, which is indeed "commercial."

Moreover, if the US Code states that the seal "is not to be used in connection with commercial ventures or products in any way that suggests presidential support or endorsement," then that pretty much paves the way for the White House to decide where the seal can be used.

Looks like the Onion is out of luck. (And out of humor too, starting about a year and a half ago, IMHO.)

Endorsement? Oh please... (2, Insightful)

FatSean (18753) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871295)

The Onion savages that corporation-killing George W. Bush every chance they get. Nobody who reads the Onion could possibly think the that the President supports them...would you support a publication that repeatedly pointed out you myriad of flaws, poor reasoning and simple idiocy?

Re:Endorsement? Oh please... (4, Funny)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871372)

The problem is that many people may confuse some of the stupid remarks made by The Onion with the stupid remarks made by President Bush and therefore may become confused...after all, we don't want the world associating the official US Government Seal with misinformation and stupidity, do we?

You kids... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13871232)

You actually bought into the notion of IP.

Let me help you.

If you're writing satire, you can use this kind of stuff. And particularly political satire is given wide latitude. So if I were the Onion, I would relish a court fight here. It would give them even more notority, and they would win.

This proves to me that the White House is actually manned by monkeys. No the smart ones, either.

Re:This is called a "joke?" (3, Informative)

LocoBurger (18797) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871300)

As a work of the federal government, isn't the seal in the public domain? Wikipedia certainly think so [wikipedia.org] . If that's the case, the government can't do much of anything to stop the Onion from doing whatever they want with it.

Re:This is called a "joke?" (4, Interesting)

darylb (10898) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871366)

With that rationale, there would be nothing to stop counterfeit FBI and Secret Service badges, not to mention currency, as all the artwork are works of the federal government, no? The law on the matter of the Presidential Seal is clear. The Onion can be as satirical as they want, but I don't see they have a defense against the "no commerical use without permission" rule. It would've been funnier for them to CHANGE the seal to something satirical anyway.

Everyone else is clamping down on their IP rights (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13871093)

why not the government?

Seriously, with the recent frenzy over "intellectual property" restrictions, why shouldn't the government get into the restraining free speech business, like everyone else?

Re:Everyone else is clamping down on their IP righ (0, Troll)

'nother poster (700681) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871150)

Hmm, the parent post is modded a troll, at least at the time of this comments creation. Obviously the mods still do not recognize satire, even when the article is about satire. Maybe if the mods read The Onion they may "get it", but then again, maybe not.

Opympic Rings (2, Interesting)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871096)

The bigger joke is that Congress gave the IOC complete control over any linked ring motif whether or not it has any conection to the Olympics or not or is a symbol created before the modern Olympic movement.

Re:Opympic Rings (-1, Troll)

glenrm (640773) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871171)

Olympic Rings is a bigger joke and a better story. Don't blog about your own compition in amature sports? Insane! Of course it doesn't of the "Hate Bush" appeal of the above story... And other than the "The Onion" angle where is the new for nerds?

Re:Opympic Rings (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13871216)

Where's the "-1 Incomprehensible" mod when you need it?

Re:Opympic Rings (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871371)

Yeah, Olympic Rings doesn't have the "Hate Bush" appeal of the "No Presidential Seal Satire" story. And it doesn't prohibit Americans from satirizing the president. Plus, it doesn't annoy Republican Bush worshippers who'll say anything, no matter how lame, to distract us from hating the hateful Bush. You know, like when the president sues a newspaper for making a joke about him. Talk about "O'Pimpic".
'

Re:Opympic Rings (3, Funny)

sznupi (719324) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871175)

Sooo...you don't have Audi in US?

Re:Opympic Rings (1)

j-cloth (862412) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871187)

I wasn't aware that the US congress had any juristiction over an international body like the IOC. Or did I miss a Swiss invasion?

Re:Opympic Rings (2, Interesting)

div_2n (525075) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871228)

I guess Audi never got the memo. [audi.com]

Neither did this bank. [integrabank.com]

I'm sure there are more out there. But I'm not sure you are accurate on this. Check out the International Trademarks Association site for more information found here. [inta.org]

Re:Opympic Rings (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13871261)

it's specifically FIVE linked rings, dummy.

Big deal. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13871100)

If Reverend Fred Phelps started using Slashdot's logo on godhatesfags.com, you'd do the same exact thing.

Move on. This is a non-story.

Re:Big deal. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13871158)

Last I checked, Fred Phelps wasn't running an obvious satire site. Big fucking difference.

If satire doesn't cover this, then what next? Are all political cartoonists out of a job?

If you don't care about this, I can understand that. I can't make you stand up for your rights - or even accept your rights. But don't tell me what to fucking do.

Re:Big deal. (5, Insightful)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871183)

It's obvious in context - but single articles from the Onion regularly get picked up and passed along as "real" news stories. It gets harder to tell when context is removed.

Besides, they definitely aren't satirizing the seal itself. If they were, they'd probably be okay. But they're using the real seal.

Re:Big deal. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13871322)

Journalism really has gone down the mountain if Onion stories are routinely being run as actual news.... Have any linkage to one of these?

Seeing an Onion story picked up by the AP would be about the funniest thing ever and a sure sign that we need to kill the all the news media and get a fresh start.

Re:Big deal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13871252)

If satire doesn't cover this, then what next?
Fair use doesn't mean you get to take an unaltered trademark and use it any way you want. Never has. Learn a little about the law before opening your mouth.

Re:Big deal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13871377)

I wasn't under the impression the law had anything to do with what is right. The law says a lot of things that are fucking stupid; that doesn't mean the story is a "non-issue". Next time, remember that other people probably have a broader perspective than you do before opening your mouth.

Re:Big deal. (1)

'nother poster (700681) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871270)

But reverend Phelps doesn't make satirical send ups of religios leaders, he spreads hate. The Onion on the other hand creates satirical articles, many of which are less than flattering to politicians. The politicians, being the small minded children they are, don't like being called doody heads in public, so they pull out the second most powerful playground phrase... "My lawyer can beat up your lawyer! Nanny, nanny, boo boo."

Not My Tax Dollars! (1)

Nqdiddles (805995) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871101)

"The only joke here is that our tax dollars are being spent on this."
I do pity those whose tax dollars are being spent on this.
And bloody glad that as an Aussie it's not _my_ tax dollars.

Re:Not My Tax Dollars! (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871222)

Yeah, well our dollars theoretically go farther than yours.

Though when you change that to "tax dollars", I'm not sure how it works out.

well... (5, Funny)

mtjs (918147) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871102)

hahahahahahahah ha ha haha ha. YOUR tax dollars.

re: well... (0)

ed.han (444783) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871242)

in soviet russia, dollars tax you!

ed

Wow... Just... wow (-1, Flamebait)

stevenm86 (780116) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871103)

What law are they going to use? "Ooh, I know! Let's use the DMCA! Yeeah! We'll say the Onion is voilating our copyrights by displaying the presidential seal!"
This is sad. Just plain sad. It's funny, actually... only noone is laughing.

Re:Wow... Just... wow (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871132)

Actually, I think there's an existing law to cover this kind of thing. Most countries do have protection on symbols of their government, usually dating from before trademark protection became available.

Re:Wow... Just... wow (5, Informative)

tdoane78 (540946) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871184)

Something is sad, but I think it's around your comments assigning blame to the DMCA. Like it or hate it the Onion is potentially in violation of the law.

TITLE 18 PART I CHAPTER 33 713
(a) Whoever knowingly displays any printed or other likeness of the great seal of the United States, or of the seals of the President or the Vice President of the United States, or the seal of the United States Senate, or the seal of the United States House of Representatives, or the seal of the United States Congress, or any facsimile thereof, in, or in connection with, any advertisement, poster, circular, book, pamphlet, or other publication, public meeting, play, motion picture, telecast, or other production, or on any building, monument, or stationery, for the purpose of conveying, or in a manner reasonably calculated to convey, a false impression of sponsorship or approval by the Government of the United States or by any department, agency, or instrumentality thereof, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

(b) Whoever, except as authorized under regulations promulgated by the President and published in the Federal Register, knowingly manufactures, reproduces, sells, or purchases for resale, either separately or appended to any article manufactured or sold, any likeness of the seals of the President or Vice President, or any substantial part thereof, except for manufacture or sale of the article for the official use of the Government of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

(c) Whoever, except as directed by the United States Senate, or the Secretary of the Senate on its behalf, knowingly uses, manufactures, reproduces, sells or purchases for resale, either separately or appended to any article manufactured or sold, any likeness of the seal of the United States Senate, or any substantial part thereof, except for manufacture or sale of the article for the official use of the Government of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

(d) Whoever, except as directed by the United States House of Representatives, or the Clerk of the House of Representatives on its behalf, knowingly uses, manufactures, reproduces, sells or purchases for resale, either separately or appended to any article manufactured or sold, any likeness of the seal of the United States House of Representatives, or any substantial part thereof, except for manufacture or sale of the article for the official use of the Government of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

(e) Whoever, except as directed by the United States Congress, or the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives, acting jointly on its behalf, knowingly uses, manufactures, reproduces, sells or purchases for resale, either separately or appended to any article manufactured or sold, any likeness of the seal of the United States Congress, or any substantial part thereof, except for manufacture or sale of the article for the official use of the Government of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

(f) A violation of the provisions of this section may be enjoined at the suit of the Attorney General,

(1) in the case of the great seal of the United States and the seals of the President and Vice President, upon complaint by any authorized representative of any department or agency of the United States;
(2) in the case of the seal of the United States Senate, upon complaint by the Secretary of the Senate;
(3) in the case of the seal of the United States House of Representatives, upon complaint by the Clerk of the House of Representatives; and
(4) in the case of the seal of the United States Congress, upon complaint by the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives, acting jointly.

Re:Wow... Just... wow (1)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871375)

Trademark should cover it. The Onion is using the presidential seal to mark their own documents, not to refer to the president's. That's a trademark infraction.

Trademarks can be lost if not defended. The US government may well be legally obligated to pursuse this case...

You'd think this administration... (1)

Prospero's Grue (876407) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871105)

You would think that this administration, perhaps above others, would have a sense of humour. I don't understand how they could hope to function day-to-day without one.

Not very insightful, I know, but I couldn't read TFA. I wonder if the Onion has anything about it...

Re:You'd think this administration... (1)

Drachasor (723880) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871168)

I thought it was common knowledge that this administration isn't capable of functioning day-to-day. So this seems consistent to me.

Does that help clear up your confusion?

I dunno (5, Insightful)

julesh (229690) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871110)

I mean... they could find somebody dull enough to believe the Onion was actually a real presidential announcement.

The point is, though, that the seal is used to indicate official documents, etc. Using it on the Onion does make it look official, to the uninitiated. I'd suggest they should use a modified version, like whitehouse.org [whitehouse.org] does.

Re:I dunno (5, Funny)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871191)

Nah, everyone knows The Onion is a joke. The Onion said so. Maybe the fear is that people will think the current administration is a joke too. Oh wait...

Re:I dunno (0)

homerules (688184) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871200)

Never underestimate the power of stupidity!

How about a disclaimer (5, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871231)

Like a red semi-transparent banner across the seal, with the following words;

The Whitehouse thinks you're too stupid to realize this image is a satirical fake.

First amendment? (3, Interesting)

Alranor (472986) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871111)

Citing the United States Code, Mr. Dixton wrote that the seal "is not to be used in connection with commercial ventures or products in any way that suggests presidential support or endorsement."

Well they're hardly using it to promote a commercial venture, and if you can find someone who reads one of these Onion pieces and believes it suggests presidential support, could you point them in my direction, as i've got this bridge i'd like to sell them.

Wouldn't this be covered under the parody rulings made based on the First amendment?

Re:First amendment? (2, Interesting)

julesh (229690) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871153)

Wouldn't this be covered under the parody rulings made based on the First amendment?

Not necessarily. They can say the same things equally effectively without attaching the seal to them, so I don't see that it is necessary for them to have such protection.

Re:First amendment? (5, Insightful)

mungtor (306258) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871330)

IANAL. But, if they took down the ads and got rid of the registrations then it would not be a commercial venture. However, since they are using the articles to drive traffic to the ads and they are being paid for ad placement, it _is_ a commercial venture.

The redesign sucks anyway, I don't know who bothers reading it anymore.

Re:First amendment? (1)

$lashdot (472358) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871339)

Well, they aren't parodying the seal, are they? They are parodying the president and then using an unmodified seal.

I wonder how well The Onion's lawyers would take it if I parodied their site, but used an exact copy of their Registered Trademark "The ONION" to do it? Would they let their trademark be diluted or would they ask me to satirize it as "the UNYUN" or something?

Re:First amendment? (1)

wren337 (182018) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871365)

They sell banner ads, they sell books. I would say it's "In connection with a commercial venture". I don't think the people who put out the Onion are unpaid volunteers.

I think it should be protected as parody, but it's definately a commercial site.

I thought this was all public domain (2, Interesting)

sgant (178166) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871113)

I thought The White House and the President...whoever this may be...is all public domain stuff. Granted, I didn't read the article in a rush to post this uninformed rambling.

But from what I remember, when the movie Contact used President Clintons image and voice they too were in the clear even when Clinton complained. They said hey, you're in the public domain pal.

Thought that the Presidential Seal was also in the public domain.

Re:I thought this was all public domain (5, Informative)

dema (103780) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871301)

There is a law regarding the seal: TITLE 18, 713 [cornell.edu] .

Whoever knowingly displays any printed or other likeness of the great seal of the United States, or of the seals of the President or the Vice President of the United States, or the seal of the United States Senate, or the seal of the United States House of Representatives, or the seal of the United States Congress, or any facsimile thereof, in, or in connection with, any advertisement, poster, circular, book, pamphlet, or other publication, public meeting, play, motion picture, telecast, or other production, or on any building, monument, or stationery, for the purpose of conveying, or in a manner reasonably calculated to convey, a false impression of sponsorship or approval by the Government of the United States or by any department, agency, or instrumentality thereof, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both. (Emphasis mine)

Seems like this wouldn't apply to The Onion as a satirical piece.

Re:I thought this was all public domain (1)

The Desert Palooka (311888) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871316)

This may be an outdated mode of thought, but if anyone can use a seal, doesn't that sort of defeat the purpose of a seal?

Re:I thought this was all public domain (4, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871324)

Thought that the Presidential Seal was also in the public domain.

Not really. Making fiction that includes references to a President either current or past is protected by the fact that the person is considered a "public figure", and has thus consented to having works made about them.

The problem with the Presidential Seal is that it's intended to carry the full power and weight of the office of the President and is NOT allowed to be used for anything that the President's office does not directly stand behind.

This "parody" thus places the President's office in a bit of a bind. It's not that they necessarily mind the parody, but they cannot have the seal used inappropriately, even if it seems harmless enough. Yet by requesting its removal, they look like the bad guys to the public.

The best solution I can think of is that the Onion should develop a "fake" seal that conveys the fact that it's fake in some way, shape, or form. In that way they would also parody the seal along with the President himself. This would be covered by fair use, and would not cause any confusion with the real seal.

No reg link (4, Informative)

lastchance_000 (847415) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871117)

Here [nytimes.com]

It is not a joke! (5, Funny)

foolish_to_be_here (802344) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871127)

For the Onion to use the seal is not a job but is "satire". For the current administration to use it is a "joke".

MOD PARENT UP (1, Offtopic)

BushCheney08 (917605) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871174)

Interesting, informative, underrated, inciteful...

Re:MOD PARENT UP (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871344)

...inciteful...

Now THAT'S a moderation they need to have on politics.slashdot.org. ;^)

Best I've heard all day. +1 (1)

rylin (688457) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871197)

Best i've heard all day without a doubt.
Kudos to you, good sir.

Well... (5, Funny)

ElGuapoGolf (600734) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871128)

I gotta say, I give the White House (and more specifically the current administration) some credit on this. Sure, Clinton didn't give a shit when The Onion used the presidential seal, but that was just a sign of the contempt that budget balancing whore had for the office of President.

Now this administration may be able screw up the invasion of the wrong country, leak the names of CIA agents, mismanage hurricane disaster relief efforts, funnel billions to Haliburton, put scientific research back decades, and turn the country into a joke in general, but they'll be *damned* if they're going to let some satire magazine use the Presidential seal in an article with a headline such as "Bush: Vacation ruined by 'Stupid Dead Soldier'".

Bravo!

Re:Well... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13871331)

Now this administration may be able screw up the invasion of the wrong country, leak the names of CIA agents, mismanage hurricane disaster relief efforts, funnel billions to Haliburton, put scientific research back decades, and turn the country into a joke in general,

What's the bigger joke is that liberals believe all of that, and yet still couldn't field a competent candidate to beat his reelection.

It's sad how irrelevant the Democrats have become, and how ineffectual the current leftist elite are.

Here's a hint, you guys will never win if you keep up the self-hating America schtick. Time to move on.

Onion's next White House Seal? (1, Flamebait)

shareme (897587) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871133)

I say we hold a contest for designing Onion's Next White House seal.. I say it shoudl picture Bush on a Jackass backwards as the seal..

Re:Onion's next White House Seal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13871368)

i think it should be the democratic party seal, a big baby crying

Sad lack of humor (1)

shanen (462549) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871134)

You'd think these Busheviks ought to have a sense of humor by now.

What, you mean the entire thing wasn't some kind of sick joke? Iraq? Katrina? All the little stuff?

Save your sould (Article Text) (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13871137)

You might have thought that the White House had enough on its plate late last month, what with its search for a new Supreme Court nominee, the continuing war in Iraq and the C.I.A. leak investigation. But it found time to add another item to its agenda - stopping The Onion, the satirical newspaper, from using the presidential seal.

The newspaper regularly produces a parody of President Bush's weekly radio address on its Web site (www.theonion.com/content/node/40121), where it has a picture of President Bush and the official insignia.

"It has come to my attention that The Onion is using the presidential seal on its Web site," Grant M. Dixton, associate counsel to the president, wrote to The Onion on Sept. 28. (At the time, Mr. Dixton's office was also helping Mr. Bush find a Supreme Court nominee; days later his boss, Harriet E. Miers, was nominated.)

Citing the United States Code, Mr. Dixton wrote that the seal "is not to be used in connection with commercial ventures or products in any way that suggests presidential support or endorsement." Exceptions may be made, he noted, but The Onion had never applied for such an exception.

The Onion was amused. "I'm surprised the president deems it wise to spend taxpayer money for his lawyer to write letters to The Onion," Scott Dikkers, editor in chief, wrote to Mr. Dixton. He suggested the money be used instead for tax breaks for satirists.

More formally, The Onion's lawyers responded that the paper's readers - it prints about 500,000 copies weekly, and three million people read it online - are well aware that The Onion is a joke.

"It is inconceivable that anyone would think that, by using the seal, The Onion intends to 'convey... sponsorship or approval' by the president," wrote Rochelle H. Klaskin, the paper's lawyer, who went on to note that a headline in the current issue made the point: "Bush to Appoint Someone to Be in Charge of Country."

Moreover, she wrote, The Onion and its Web site are free, so the seal is not being used for commercial purposes. That said, The Onion asked that its letter be considered a formal application to use the seal.

No answer yet. But Trent Duffy, a White House spokesman, said that "you can't pick and choose where you want to enforce the rules surrounding the use of official government insignia, whether it's for humor or fraud."

O.K. But just between us, Mr. Duffy, how did they find out about it?

"Despite the seriousness of the Bush White House, more than one Bush staffer reads The Onion and enjoys it thoroughly," he said. "We do have a sense of humor, believe it or not."

KATHARINE Q. SEELYE

Commercial purposes (4, Informative)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871141)

From the NPR report this morning, it seems to revolve around use of the seal of the president for commercial purposes. Pretty cut and dried. Everyone else from IBM to the Red Cross protects their identification. The question is: Is the Onion the only high profile entity to use the symbol? I don't know. Does Saturday Night Live use the exact symbol? Or do they change it slightly? Seems the Onion could do the same. Everybody goes away happy.

Re:Commercial purposes (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871336)

Well, I think it's pretty well established that you're allowed to make your living in part by mocking the president. If you define this as commercial and therefore regulatable speech, that pretty much gives you the power to interfere with anybody who uses any political symbol except as a private individual.

I'd say that a commercial use of the seal would be one that is used to suggest an official association with a product you are selling, thus enhancing (as symbols do) the perceived value of that product. Kind of like putting a picture of Michael Jordan on a basketball shoe box. An example would be if you sold "disaster preparedness kits" with batteries, MREs and water purifiers, and put the phrase "The Whitehouse says every American should be prepared for an emergency." Putting the Presidential seal on the box and on the advertising suggests and official endorsement.

litigation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13871144)

Well, we are already the most litigious nation on earth, might as well be the most litigious government too ...

-GenTimJS

Tax Dollars a joke? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13871145)

"The only joke here is that our tax dollars are being spent on this."

WTF?

Your tax dollars have been used to threaten and destabilize the entire world, and its suddenly 'a joke' when they are used on a trifling bit of nonsense?

It would be far better for all of us if your government spent your tax dollars on stuff like this rather than useing them on murdering people in other countries.

Either way, you dont have control over what is done with your money, and this is the central thing that threatens everyone. Something to think about, yes?

You're Jealous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13871241)

Our country is better than yours!

In what way? (-1, Flamebait)

FatSean (18753) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871328)

Please, I love the USA but all this "greatest country in the world" shit is starting to wear thin. Compared to modern European Nations such as the UK, Germany, Holland and France...please enumerate the ways in which the USA is better. I'm serious.

Re:You're Jealous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13871356)

WAS better than his.

no way to stop it (3, Interesting)

netwiz (33291) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871156)

The seal is the property of the people of the United States of America. It's not copyrightable, it's not trademarked, and satire is protected speech under the constitution. I don't see how in the world there's even the suggestion that there's legality behind silencing the Onion. Okay, not really silencing.

The Onion should be able to get around this by the smallest of photoshops to make the seal different. And if it's done in a parodic manner (like everything over there), then there's just nothing that can be done.

As someone else posted already, your tax dollars at work! (not that it matters, this'll be a drop in the bucket compared to everything else)

Re:no way to stop it (4, Informative)

will_die (586523) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871250)

The Seal of the President, Senate, Vice-President,etc are NOT the property of the people of the USA they are the property of the government of the USA and there is a major difference between thoses two.
As for the mis-use of it congress put it rather high, 6 months jail time [cornell.edu] .
Over all not that much of a big issue, someone complained, the customized form letter was sent out as required by federal law, and as you mention the onion will have to make some changes and will probably get a few funny articles out of it.

Re:no way to stop it (1, Interesting)

netwiz (33291) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871363)

Uh, that code would only apply were the Onion trying to pass itself off as a representative of the POTUS. They're not. They've a long and hallowed tradition of parody and satire, both of which are protected speech. I submit that if the Onion really wanted to fight this, they'd be able to make a good case.

Seriously, nobody reading the Onion is going to believe that they're really the mouthpiece of the President. It's obviously a satirical news site.

Re:no way to stop it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13871253)

No one is trying to "silence" the Onion. They just don't want the exact seal being used.

Re: no way to stop it (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871298)

> The seal is the property of the people of the United States of America. It's not copyrightable, it's not trademarked, [...]

Regarding which, see the note at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:USPresidentialS eal.jpg [wikipedia.org] .

Oh, and there's an image of the seal there as well, for those who want to commit an outrage by putting it on their web pages.

The Slashdot logo? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13871165)

Does this mean I can use the Slashdot logo any way that I see fit and it's ok with the taco? My guess is that it would not be ok with his overlords.

Re:The Slashdot logo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13871317)

No, but you can use it in a parody regardless of whether it's ok with taco.

no (1)

underwhelm (53409) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871323)

The Onion isn't using it "any way they see fit." They're using it for satire, a uniquely protected form of speech.

Trademark Dilution (4, Interesting)

theGreater (596196) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871173)

Think of it in those terms, and one has no choice but to agree (unless one subscribes to the idea of "IP" being bad-mmkay). The presidential seal is like a trademark; it cannot be used without approval. To allow use in unofficial printed/published matter (a la The Onion) dilutes its efficacy. Therefore this letter, to which The Onion properly responded by requesting formal permission to use said seal.

The great point, which the NYT dutifully points out, is that someone in Washington with access to powerful ears reads The Onion. Whether or not this individual has a sense of humour is another story entirely.

-theGreater.

Re: Trademark Dilution (4, Interesting)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871237)

> The presidential seal is like a trademark; it cannot be used without approval. To allow use in unofficial printed/published matter (a la The Onion) dilutes its efficacy.

So, for-pay encyclopedias can't include it in an article?

"We do have a sense of humor, believe it or not" (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13871179)

The whole thing is a joke. Just like Bush's Presidency.

Unlike The Onion, the Bush Presidency is a bad joke.

Re:"We do have a sense of humor, believe it or not (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871220)

Apparently you haven't read The Onion for a few years...

White House Staff Reads The Onion (3, Insightful)

SumDog (466607) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871192)

I heard this on NPR this morning on the way to work. The reason why the White House office even knows about it is because their own staff reads The Onion because at least they have a sense of humor.

On another note, isn't this protected under parody? If not, could they take the logo and add a triangle around it and then say it's protected under parody?

Why doesn't /. just buy FARK.com? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871208)

Why don't we just take up a collection and buy FARK.com?

All their story are belong to /. eventually, anyway...

The Onion crosses political borders... (3, Interesting)

Traegorn (856071) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871210)

The Onion crosses political borders, and while it's Madison, WI roots may suggest a liberal sensibility, I can't believe that this is the smartest move (politically) that the White House could be doing.

Regardless of the legal issue - as I am not a lawyer and cannot claim to speak to the limits of Satire and protected speech - many people who read the Onion are so called "Independents." Now, in this day and age, when the country is looking polarized, it can only further reinforce those who may only drift to the Democratic side into becoming much stronger Partisans.

With the 2006 midterms coming up, and considering that it's those with strong partisan feelings who vote in midterm elections, this is really a part of a larger trend that may drive people away from the Republican party.

...wait, I'm a Democrat. Keep suing Bush! Keep suing!

The only joke ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13871221)

The only joke here is that some people actually think the Onion is funny.

Free != non-commercial (4, Insightful)

pr0nbot (313417) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871223)

From TFA:
Moreover, she wrote, The Onion and its Web site are free, so the seal is not being used for commercial purposes.

The first thing I get when you go to the Onion's site is a full-screen ad. So, there is money being made. Just because it's free doesn't mean it's not commercial.

Two points (4, Informative)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871227)

1) To the original poster - are you incapable of writing your own summary? Nice cut
and paste

2) The Onion may be free, but it *is* commericial - it has a lead in ad as well
as ads on its pages.

3) The government does this all the time.. they are just glacially slow in doing anything about it.

Not a commercial enterprise? (1)

MotherInferior (698543) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871238)

Please explain, then, why there is a flashy bit of advertising [theonion.com] at the top of the Onion article...

D'oh (3, Funny)

Sheepdot (211478) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871246)

"Despite the seriousness of the Bush White House, more than one Bush staffer reads The Onion and enjoys it thoroughly," he said. "We do have a sense of humor, believe it or not."

He went on to state that the White House staffer that found it is actually a closet libertarian, doesn't really like Bush, and kept shaking his head when his supervisor insisted they "look more into this satan-worshipping-pinko-commie-hippie-website".

Now we know (0, Offtopic)

snowwrestler (896305) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871257)

Now we know why Bono wanted to meet with the President last week.

Acording to my reading of the US Constitution .... (1)

kevinthered (869065) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871260)

The Presidential seal belongs to the citizens of the USA: "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

The Presidential Seal (5, Funny)

richie2000 (159732) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871268)

I say, give the damned seal his fish ration and be done with it.

Seals... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13871272)

I think instead of this, there should be some effort put into finding a replacement for the practical side of seals. There was a day when a seal meant it was the word of a high official (or rich enough guy to have a seal made); but today it just means someone put some effort into forging it.

Of course, if you read something on the onion and think it's true you deserve what you get ;).

It's nice to know our presidential cabinet believes us to be as dumb as someone from the bayou!

Almost all organizations do this!!!!! (0)

Zapdos (70654) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871286)

Why is this one treated diffrent?

Yeah, cause that's what you want to do (4, Funny)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871287)

When dealing with a satirical website, you want to give them ammunition and a reason to use it.

Alert your friends: The Onion might actually start getting funny again.

Once again, I'd like to say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13871291)

Thanks for voting for President Bush! That guy rocks! Honesty and integrity all in one person!

It's hard to believe.

This isn't satire, it's forgery (2, Insightful)

Improv (2467) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871303)

There's something to be said for reserving one's stamp of authenticity, whether it be a signature or not, for things that are actually from one. It seems unnecessary and precisely akin to protecting one's signature from appearing on material that pokes fun at oneself -- there's nothing funny about the seal itself, and it would not change the humour to replace that seal with a mock seal. Parody should be seen to be a nearly blank check when it comes to making fun of the attributes of someone or something, and in my opinion, traditional intellectual property law totally sucks, but protecting one's sigil/signature is a reasonable thing to do.

Obviously, this is not forgery with an intent to fool, but like posting unaltered dollar bill photographs on a website, it's at least uncool and asking for trouble.

The Onion (5, Funny)

siwelwerd (869956) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871312)

Is it just me, or did that article read like something printed by... I don't know, The Onion?

stop the abusing of seals (1)

tommten (212387) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871348)

Seals should be kept in their natural habitat,
the president should immiately release his seal into the wild!

What happened to the presidential dog.. didn't he have one of those?

Common Sense (1)

RancidMilk (872628) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871358)

They have to be restrictive like that, because if they let one person use their symbol, you will have people advetising with the symbol and degrading the country as a whole. The symbol is still a representation of the presidency like insignias are of individual people. Reguardless of how many feel that Bush didn't work out, there is still the majority of people that voted him into office (twice if I might add). Also, it isn't like the government is the MPAA, they were just telling them to take it down.

Copyright Protection (1)

TechHSV (864317) | more than 8 years ago | (#13871378)

If they don't protect the copyright it could become null. I'm not exaclty sure on how this works, but if you don't protect your copyright it's hard to prove in a court if some one uses it for other purposes. For example if another company used it and sent it's proceeds to N. Korea.
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