A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: Charlie Sheen

RAINN-ing on Charlie Sheen

By Matthew Catania

Thanks to his kooky quotations and unapologetically brazen behavior, Charlie Sheen is winning the culture war despite being fired from Two and a Half Men. After breaking the Guinness World Record for fastest person to reach 1 million followers on Twitter, he’s taking his rambling diatribes on a multi-city tour called “Charlie Sheen LIVE: My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not An Option Show.” (Let’s hope the rest of the tour goes better than the kickoff performance in Detroit). But not everyone is a fan. Many of his detractors believe that his cult of personality encourages the abuse of drugs and women, and one group, UnFollowCharlie, has asked the public to boycott Mr. Sheen’s Twitter and tour as a stand against misogyny.  The group started selling products bearing the Unfollow Charlie logo through Zazzle, a website that creates custom products from user-submitted designs, and a storm of publicity followed the announcement that the money raised by the sales of these products were to go to RAINN, the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network.

UnFollowCharlie’s fundraising efforts came to an abrupt halt on March 17 when Zazzle had its merchandise removed for violating the site’s user agreement. At first the group thought that the goods were pulled because the bird on its logo was too similar to the one in Twitter’s logo. It turned out that FEA Merchandising, producers of official Charlie Sheen t-shirts, sent the takedown notice because it believes the Unfollow Charlie shirts infringe on Mr. Sheen’s right of publicity. Zazzle’s notice to UnFollowCharlie stated:

Unfortunately, your product was removed because it featured a design that does not meet Zazzle Acceptable Content Guidelines. Specifically, your product contained content that violates Charlie Sheen’s rights of celebrity/publicity. Charlie Sheen’s name and likeness are protected by rights of celebrity/publicity and may not be used on Zazzle products without permission.

That Mr. Sheen felt a keen proprietary interest in his product is no surprise; one week  before the takesown notice was sent he declared “I need to gobble up all these f*ckin’ posers and bootleggers and make them go away. Then we’re gonna deliver the real f*ckin’ t-shirts and mugs and hats.”

When THR Esq. ran this story, Eriq Gardner concluded with a few open-ended questions as to who should prevail in this dispute. LASIS analyzed the situation and came to some conclusions. (more…)

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