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back to article 'Peeping while you're sleeping' NSA parody T-shirt ban BACKFIRES

Designers of a parody T-shirt mocking the NSA launched a successful crowdfunding campaign after being denied permission to sell it through custom goods marketplace Zazzle. Dan McCall, founder of politically themed T-shirt company Liberty Maniacs, came up with an NSA-themed T-shirt that described the NSA as "the only part of the …

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The "Streisand Effect"

Was looking forward to discover what this means but it was not mentioned anywhere else in the article, leaving me with the burning question "what is it"

"The Streisand effect is the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet."

And the article was.. uhm.. i think something about the NSA and T-shirts?? i couldn't focus on that, my mind was preoccupied with that other burning question

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The "Streisand Effect"

You must be new around here.

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Re: The "Streisand Effect"

"You must be new around here."

close to 8 years, would that register as new?

Honestly, never happened to read one of El-Reg's articles where they used that phrase.

English is not my native tongue and i don't live in a English-speaking nation and my interest in Ms Barbara isn't, you know, high enough to warrant keeping tabs on her so that malibu-debacle just went straight past me.

But my goal of learning something new each day has been accomplished, thanks to El-Reg!!

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Anonymous Coward

Ms Barbara

"My name is Barbra"

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Happy

Re: The "Streisand Effect"

"But my goal of learning something new each day has been accomplished, thanks to El-Reg!!"

That's the main reason I read this site, and the comments of course.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The "Streisand Effect"

You can find a decent description in Wikipedia.

In a nutshell, the Streisand effect is the immediate spreading of information on the Internet after an attempt to contain it. It's a bit like trying to clean up a drop of printer ink that fell on a carpet: you will soon discover that leaving it alone would have been a better idea. The effect is mostly triggered when legal means are used for suppression.

The effect received its name after Barbara Streisand tried to suppress a picture of her home that was made by a 3rd party doing a perfectly legitimate job (see the Wikipedia article linked to above). The Internet being the Internet, the image was as a consequence copied by a number of sites that were outside the US, making it impossible to get rid of the image.

I hope this helps - I don't know which language you speak, but sometimes just rewording information can help.

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Re: The "Streisand Effect"

Opposite of "Least said, soonest mended"

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Big Brother

" which infringes upon the intellectual property rights of National Security Agency,"

But, on the other hand your own Intellectual Property rights will be honoured...

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Oz
Holmes

Re: " which infringes upon the intellectual property rights of National Security Agency,"

It's very ironic, therefore, the logo that appears to be at centre of this report, is in fact "borrowed" from somewhere else

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Re: " which infringes upon the intellectual property rights of National Security Agency,"

The breached IP in question was actually the NSA's "peeping whilst you're sleeping" motto.

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Anonymous Coward

Sell through via Europe

Then again, they probably think copyright in the US is world copyright, in the same way US law is world law.

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Re: Sell through via Europe

Let me slightly correct that for you

Then again, they probably think copyright in the US is universal copyright, in the same way US law is universal law.

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Re: Sell through via Europe

Copyright -is- worldwide, pretty much. There are only a few places where it won't be enforced. I can legitimately forbid you to copy this message, although I'm granting some rights to The Register by posting it after reading their terms and conditions (I'm sure I did that once).

This however appears to be about the trademark. It's kind of weird that they -have- a trademark, but they do. Trademarks aren't worldwide or even strictly geographical. Famously, the Beatles' record company Apple and the computer company Apple did have a bit of an argument but agreed that if Apple didn't publish music then it was okay. Of course Apple Computer then started publishing music, with iTunes.

Likewise all of the products that the Coyote uses to pursue the Road Runner are "Acme" brand but from unrelated manufacturers. (I am making this up, but it could be true.) The word "Acme" just means "the best".

Another name with many incarnations is "Clippy".

Symbols as trademarks I don't remember so well, but I think there was some fuss about the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Mercedes-Benz automobiles using similar symbols. Mercedes-Benz seems to have been first.

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Re: Sell through via Europe

"Copyright -is- worldwide, pretty much. There are only a few places where it won't be enforced. I can legitimately forbid you to copy this message, although I'm granting some rights to The Register by posting it after reading their terms and conditions (I'm sure I did that onceI'm sure I checked a box saying I did without actually reading once)."

Fixed it for you :)

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Re: "I can legitimately forbid you to copy this message"

Citation please ?

Because I doubt that you as an individual have any rights over things you post on a public forum online, any more than you have rights over what you say in a bar or shopping mall.

But I'm not a lawyer, so please correct me.

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Re: "I can legitimately forbid you to copy this message"

I'm not a lawyer either. But see http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/09/30/reg_ts_and_cs/

"8.1 We do not claim any proprietary rights in the comments that you post on our Website. You agree that you shall be solely responsible for your own comments and affirm that the comments you post on the Website are your own.

"8.2 You retain all your ownership, copyright and other interests and rights in your comments but by posting any comments on our Website you permit us to use, modify, alter, edit copy, reproduce, display, make compilations of and distribute such comments throughout our Website."

And this applies to -readers- of the site: "5.6 You will not use the Website in any manner which violates or infringes the rights of any person, firm or company (including, but not limited to, intellectual property rights, confidentiality rights and privacy rights)."

Now write it out a hundred times before sunrise, or I'll... quote Monty Python at you.[*][**]

(I think that's (1) "fair use" and (2) not actually threatening, also mentioned in Ts and Cs.)

[*] Inaccurately. I googled for Python and "or I'll cut your balls off" and apparently those are the only six words that people reliably remember from the scene, and, to be fair, it's what you -would- remember.

[**] Actually I won't.

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Re: Sell through via Europe

Mercedes-Benz seems to have been first.

First indeed. The Benz Patent-Motorwagen was the first ever automobile.

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Ugg. They claim the rights to the initials NSA? Really... Really? Bloody hell...

I can actually understand the logic behind protecting the seal, but the initials?...

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Happy

re: but the initials?...

you are right of course in the UK we would never do anything like that right?

like a number?

that would be stupid eh?

oh, wait . . http://www.icaew.com/en/members/practice-resources/news/olympics-be-careful-what-you-say

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Devil

Ugg. They claim the rights to the initials NSA? Really... Really? Bloody hell...

Yeah, acronyms can be used as trademarks.

The Nantucket Shellfish Association, the National Scrapbooking Association or the National Society of Accountants might have something to say about that...

In the online dating world, NSA also means 'no strings attached'. So there.

Aside form the trademark issue, you could argue that this is parody or satire and, as such, is fair use. It's not like these guys are making fake IDs, is it?

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Re: re: but the initials?...

@maverik - 2012 and twenty twelve are trademarked. I like the fact that summer 2012 would violate their terms. Ah, big organisations got to love em. Lucky they never spotted my local leisure centre has an Olympic size swimming pool available from summer 2012 or they'd have been right in the sh##

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Re: re: but the initials?...

Last year a shop in Surbiton got round this with a window display using square rings and the text "Lodno 0212"

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Joke

In the online dating world, NSA also means 'no strings attached'. So there.

Now you tell me. "Attractive woman. Loves Formula 1 and golf. Happy to live in separate houses and won't try and change your life. NSA"

I ran a mile when I saw those initials. You mean I missed a golden opportunity like that?

Arse.

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Anonymous Coward

Hmm, I'd be surprised if this couldn't be challenged on free speech gounds as well as fair use. The T shirt does comment govt. policy. He should pop a note to Ken White @popehat and get some advice.

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Happy

The trademark is industry specific so other people can use NSA, just not other surveillance organizations.

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The quote in the article is “. . . any person to use the initials 'NSA', the words 'National Security Agency' and the NSA seal without first acquiring written permission from the Director of NSA."

Not just surveillance organizations, any person.

Poor Neil Stephen Anderson, though. Gets sued whenever he has to initial anything.

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Who really owns the seal?

No doubt the seal was designed with government money paid for by US taxpayers so ultimately it belongs to all US citizens or at least those who pay their taxes. This seal and all governemnt logos should be in the US public domain unless being used for fraudulent purposes.

Also, aren't there exceptions when you are parodying something.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Who really owns the seal?

Don't Canadians club them?

/tiptoeing away..

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Silver badge

Re: Who really owns the seal?

It belongs to all US citizens the way a National Forest belongs to all the citizens. The care of the logo (and forests) falls under the government remit to protect publicly owned property. In the case of the logo that means protecting its meaning from 'abuse'*.

*Abuse being totally arbitrary and defined at the sole discretion of those tasked with protecting it from abuse.

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Pint

Re: Who really owns the seal?

The NSA do, and by law it's only allowed to be used for official purposes...that's why it's called a "seal".

They have no right to the letters NSA, regardless of what TFA says. It's the same for most government agencies with seals -- they and they alone have the right to determine how they're used.

//proud owner of a coffee mug with the NSA seal (purchased at the NSA museum, just outside the gates...

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Re: Who really owns the seal? @Peter Sinpson 1

>The NSA do

And who owns the NSA and pays their budget?

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FAIL

Re: Who really owns the seal?

The NSA is being a little disingenuous. The full text of the provision is:

Sec. 15. (a) No person may, except with the written permission

of the Director of the National Security Agency, knowingly use the

words 'National Security Agency', the initials 'NSA', the seal of

the National Security Agency, or any colorable imitation of such

words, initials, or seal in connection with any merchandise,

impersonation, solicitation, or commercial activity in a manner

reasonably calculated to convey the impression that such use is

approved, endorsed, or authorized by the National Security Agency.

The important part is at the end ". . . in a manner reasonably calculated to convey the impression that such use is approved, endorsed, or authorized by the National Security Agency." I can't imagine that anyone who sees "peeping while you're sleeping" would think the NSA authorized it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Who really owns the seal?

What the NSA does not want the people in the us to know is that the purpose of their spying is not to stop terrorism, but to locate people in the us who break laws and to stiffle decent and critism of the government. Why do you think they copywrited the organizations name? To silence and prosecute critics of what they are doing

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Re: Who really owns the seal?

You are correct. The gov can pass laws making it illegal to create look-alike items intended to deceive people into thinking something's official - like impersonating a police officer or a realistic but fake letter from the IRS, but that can't ban the production of something based on intellectual property rights. If the law attempts to do that it would never stand up in court. I suspect in this case it's illegal to reproduce the seal if the intent is to mislead or confuse, and perhaps the reporting is off (not unusual!).

You can also freely reproduce ANY government document available to the public without fear of copyright infringement. The gov. can't copyright anything, either. As you said, everything already belongs to the taxpayer.

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Re: Who really owns the seal?

So why are there so many parodies of the Presidential Seal? The US does not copyright or trademark itself. Look it up.

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Big Brother

As people say about "First World Problems"

"You couldn't get away with "X" in $Country..."

Well things like this show just how far down the road to becoming $Country things are getting.

A Fasciometer, if you like.

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Trivially avoiding anti-parody trademark suits

These are ridiculously easy to avoid if you think for 2 seconds about it.

Simply replace "National Security Agency" with "Notional Security Agency", reverse some of the colours in the logo and add and/or remove some of the embellishments. People will still know exactly what you're talking about.

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Happy

It's now a bad one but not as funny as the t-shirt which we something like

"TSA: If we don't get off, you don't get on."

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Happy

also saw "TSA: Making air travel a touching experience"

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I thought parody and satire were counted as fair use? Unless the NSA want to argue it will weaken sales of their own branded merchandise?

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JDX
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So basically the creator of the shirt is lying about their shirt being censored in order to sell more shirts?

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Surely just adding an O would be a nice way round.

NoSA - sticking it in since 2001.

NoSA - No Security Agency

NoSa - we didn't illegally take your data (needs to be pronounced as Gunnery Sgt Hartman would).

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tried to buy one

But them seem to lack paypal support and for reasons of self-preservation, i don't have a credit card.

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Coat

Nah

It's just not in the same league as El'Reg's "Snooping Email for Fun and Profit"

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Re: Nah

I have that, it'd falling to pieces due to age though ;)

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Anonymous Coward

Meanwhile back in Airstrip One...

During Blairtime, if you tried merely wearing any of the T-shirts mentioned in the article anywhere near Whitehall, a party conference, a copper or a NuLab apparatchik who didn't the cut of your jib, you'd have been up for a serious tasering at least, or possible public evisceration if you failed to show the appropriate gratitude in response. And the NSA isn't even 'our' bunch of creepy eavesdropping shits.

Less of an issue in Cameronia; we don't even bite back.

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Anonymous Coward

wear this t-shirt

and see what happens at a point of entry to the US of A.

... and I was sooo wanting to buy one! :(

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Big Brother

N for...

Hmmm... Snowden and Assange... Anyone else wonder if the NSA is closely watching anyone who's surname begins with an N? (Yes, I know the Assange situation is not strictly NSA, but it makes me wonder). It's like American Agency Hangman, albeit an extremely simple one!

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Re: N for...

Or could it be U? ;-)

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