Novelty store owner Dan McCall is facing federal prosecution over products mocking the federal government.
The products, including a t-shirt with an altered NSA logo and the phrase "The NSA - The only part of the government that actually listens," are marketed as "freedom products for liberty lovers" on the LibertyManiacs.com website.
Judicial Watch reports McCall received cease and desist orders from both the NSA and the Department of Homeland Security regarding the products. The letters, according to Judicial Watch, threatened litigation and criminal prosecution if the parody designs were not immediately removed.
A Wall Street Journal article outlines the NSA's case against McCall:
NSA claimed the products violated a provision of the National Security Agency Act of 1959, according to the lawsuit. That provision states: "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."
McCall's lawyers, according to the WSJ,
feel it is unlikely anyone would think a product such as
LibertyManiac's "NSA: Spying on you since 1952" coffee cup would be
approved, endorsed or authorized by the NSA.
“Even a moron in a rush would recognize that this is a joke,” said Paul Levy, an attorney with Public Citizen.
McCall has filed a federal complaint claiming the government is violating his First Amendment right because the special statutes applied to the NSA and DHS seals cannot be used to forbid parodies.
"In short, the
merchant claims that the First Amendment protects his use of the NSA and
DHS seals to identify truthfully the agencies that he is criticizing," Judicial Watch reports.
Do you believe the LiberyManiacs.com products are parody or copyright infringement? Let us know in the comments or vote in our poll. Note: This is not a scientific poll. It is for entertainment purposes only.