Anderson put his cartoon The Trump Cult on sale at online retailer Redbubble this month. The illustration shows Trump with supporters in Maga hats, serving them a drink that has been labeled “Kool-Aid”, then “Chloroquine” and finally “Clorox”, an American brand of bleach. Caricature refers to the Jonestown massacre in 1978, where more than 900 people died after drinking cyanide punch on the orders of cult leader Jim Jones, and Trump’s widely criticized idea of injecting water bleach to protect against coronavirus. Trump also took the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as protection against Covid-19, despite a study showing that it was linked to an increase in patient deaths.
But Redbubble has removed Anderson’s artwork from sale following a trademark infringement claim filed by Trump campaign organization Donald J Trump for President Inc. In the Daily Kos, Anderson said that he thought the claim had been made because of his depiction of the Maga hats, and described the situation as “absurd”.
“We live in a strange time when #POTUS can falsely accuse someone of murder with impunity (violating the terms of service of @ Twitter), while intimidating a private company to remove content it do not like “, Anderson added to Twitter.
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) and other freedom of expression organizations then got involved, sending a group letter to Redbubble accusing Trump’s campaign of “abusing Redbubble’s reporting mechanism for remove the protected political expression in the form of parody, criticism and satire ”, And arguing that the work and those who publish it are protected by the first amendment.
Redbubble reinstated Anderson’s cartoon this week, say that he strives “to respect intellectual property rights and freedom of expression, but sometimes we make mistakes, like we did here … We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.”
Anderson praised Redbubble for admitting the error, but said the case raised “troubling issues,” including that the cartoon was removed less than 24 hours after it was released before it was released. received only one order.
“I doubt anyone has seen it on the site yet,” he said. “This reveals that the Trump campaign has a system in place, looking for material they find objectionable. If it happened to me so quickly, it probably happened to others. How many other content has been deleted this way on Redbubble and other sites? “
He added: “It must be emphasized: the President of the United States is a hypocrite who complains about the” violation “of his freedom of expression on Twitter, and then tries to actively suppress the freedom of expression of others. These are actions of a budding authoritarian teenager. “
Trump criticized Twitter this week for “completely stifling FREE SPEECH” after the social media platform placed a warning label on two of its tweets spreading lies about postal voting.
CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein said the organization was “sensitive to the problems faced by companies like Redbubble in balancing the problems of competing rights holders, and was alarmed to see the president’s re-election campaign exploiting these problems in suppressing protected speech. “
“We are delighted that Redbubble did the right thing in this case,” he said. “We hope they will continue to assert the rights of the First Amendment, they and their vendors are guaranteed by rejecting any attempt at similar censorship. “