A parody Web site called Agitproperties.com has drawn fire from FOX News legal beagles for selling an amusing line of 'FAUX News' and 'O'Reilly Youth' t-shirts and similar merchandise.
The Austin, Texas group of "graphics designers and musicians" behind the site had been selling the shirts at anti-war demonstrations, until these gatherings began to dwindle in the face of shock-and-awe footage flooding into TV sets across the nation, lulling the populace into complacency.
Agitproperties was fast losing steam. "Our site has been up since last April and to be honest we were averaging a pathetic 2500 page hits a day, and were seriously thinking about 'packing it in' once our inventory ran out," Webmaster Richard Luckett told us.
That is, until the humourless powers at FOX decided to crack a small nut with a very large hammer. Ironically, publicity from the dispute has boosted the site's popularity by a considerable measure. "Yesterday we logged 41,095 page hits, more in one 24-hour period than we have had since we went on line," Luckett says.
"We demand that you immediately cease displaying and selling merchandise on the Website. Fox is particularly concerned that its intellectual property not be used in a manner that will likely lead to the impairment of the goodwill represented by the name 'Fox News Channel,' as well as the likelihood of confusion as to an affiliation with and endorsement of the Network," the lawyers warn.
Actually, a red, bolded disclaimer covers a third of each Web page. It would be impossible for anyone who can read to imagine that FOX is behind the Web site.
"Furthermore, the T-shirt 'O'Reilly Youth Tee', in addition to the infringements described herein, shows incredibly poor taste on your part, is highly offensive and clearly demonstrates your bad faith use of the Fox Copyrights and Trademarks," the lawyers say.
We find it especially amusing that FOX would dare decry anyone's 'incredibly poor taste', being the network responsible for such classics of taste and family values as "Married by America," a lowbrow vox-pop-style mockery of the sacrament of matrimony in which contestants agree to tie the knot with a suitor elected by FOX's viewership.
There is also "Paradise Hotel," a cheap, voyeuristic 'reality' contestant show in which casual hook-ups are the goal: "there's even night-vision bed cams," FOX's illiterate marketing copywriters promise. This show is apparently meant to replace that paradigm of taste and decency, "Temptation Island," at least for the time being, while the next edition is in production.
Hypocrisy notwithstanding, FOX is certain to win unless the Agitproperties crew can attract the attention a white-knight intellectual property lawyer. Sadly, it costs a lot of money to exercise free speech in America.
"We have no illusions about the phalanxes of highly-paid attorneys that FOX has on retainer or about the time and money this case would require to fight in court. Sadly, if we cannot get an attorney to take our case pro bono, FOX will prevail," Luckett says.
"Apparently the 'patriots' at Fox believe in the US Constitution except when it comes to an unemployed graphic designer calling them on their unrepentant, blatant Republican bias, exposing it for what it is and having the cojones to educate the American public about it."
Meanwhile the site remains defiantly on-line, and those offensive t-shirts are selling better than ever, thanks to FOX's decision to publicize them. ®