Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Charlie Sheen Reps Claim Publicity Rights To Shut Down Group Critical Of Sheen's Treatment Of Women

The insanity that is Charlie Sheen is boiling over into the kind of stuff we follow. Given the massive focus on Sheen and his antics over the past few weeks, a bunch of people who appear to have no relationship with Sheen at all have been rushing to the Trademark Office to secure tradmarks on some of Sheen's popular new catchphrases. I can't really see how most of these could stand, as Sheen would have a pretty strong claim against them, but there are some serious players involved. Hell, even Jimmy Buffet is trying to register "Tiger Blood" for a new cocktail. Yum.

That said, the merchandise group FEA Merchandising, which is a subsidiary of Live Nation, is apparently trying to crack down on competing Sheen merchandise, but is often doing so in questionable ways. For example, it's forced offline a group that was selling "Unfollow Charlie" t-shirts in an attempt to raise money for women's rights, and specifically the group RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network). The person who set up the t-shirts, Kate Durkin, was reasonably horrified at the glorification of Sheen (some might claim that it was really more schadenfreude) during his... antics. So she's selling t-shirts and trying to get people to stop following Sheen on Twitter.

Reasonable enough, but FEA got Zazzle to take down her store. Why? You guessed it: Another questionable publicity rights claim. Durkin is wondering if she's being blocked because her campaign is critical of Sheen. It sounds like FEA is going after all sorts of folks, critical or not, but it still raises serious questions about publicity rights laws (yet again), if they can be used to stifle a protest against someone's actions.

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