CafePress is a longstanding online marketplace where users can make stickers, t-shirts, and mousepads out of whatever image they want. And apparently, some people want Ben Carson For President 2016 merch. But do you know who doesn’t want you to buy a “Ben Carson Is My Homeboy” t-shirt from CafePress? Ben Carson.
The 2016 presidential candidate recently demanded that CafePress remove all Carson-related material, citing copyright infringement, misappropriation of name and likeness, and privacy concerns. CafePress’s lawyer has responded with a scathing defense of freedom of expression arguing that “it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to understand how baseless these claims are.” The letter goes on to argue that there’s a long and respected tradition of individual citizens expressing their political beliefs through creative expression; as long as they don’t use Carson’s trademarked campaign symbols, their t-shirts/bumperstickers/whatever should be protected under the law. That’s the thing about running for president–you don’t get to control how people will react.
Incidentally, a similar thing happened back in 2008, when the GOP got mad at CafePress for selling “Don’t Be An Ass, Go Republican!” t-shirts. They backed down from that fight. Odds are Carson will end up caving, too.
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