Monday, October 24, 2005

COPYRIGHT: Can the White House control use of the presidential seal?

Who owns rights to government property? Can the government copyright a
logo of a government agency -- such as the White House?

White House Orders Satirical Paper 'The Onion' to Stop Using Presidential

By E&P Staff

Published: October 24, 2005 2:25 PM ET

NEW YORK Despite White House spokesman Trent Duffy's admission to New York
Times reporter Katharine Q. Seelye that "more than one Bush staffer reads
The Onion and enjoys it thoroughly," the White House is seeking to stop
the satirical paper from using the presidential seal on its Web site.

Seelye's seal scoop, printed in Monday's paper, reveals that associate
counsel to the president Grant M. Dixton sent a letter to the Onion on
Sept. 28 stating that the seal "is not to be used in connection with
commercial ventures or products in any way that suggests presidential
support or endorsement."

The newspaper parodies President Bush's weekly radio address on its Web
site, accompanied by a picture of President Bush and the official

The Onion's lawyer, Rochelle H. Klaskin, countered the government's letter
by saying, "It is inconceivable that anyone would think that, by using the
seal, The Onion intends to 'convey... sponsorship or approval' by the

Klaskin also asked that the Onion be considered fro an official exception
to the rule, which is allowable by law.

The Onion distributes 500,000 copies a week, and three million people read
the paper online, according to the Times.

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