Censorship or Copyright Infringement? Flickr Takes Down 'Obama as Joker' Photo


Los Angeles residents recently began seeing a new sort of Obama poster plastered across their city. Instead of promoting "hope," these posters feature U.S. President Barack Obama wearing the Joker's clown makeup from the Batman movie "The Dark Knight." Even those outside of L.A. have likely seen this image somewhere as it soon took on a viral nature, appearing both online and in other cities across the country. The politically charged (and rather disturbing) photo serves as a counterpoint to the prolific and iconic "hope" posters that became popular during Obama's campaign. Regardless of which side you favor, one thing can be said about this photo: it definitely grabs your attention.

Full story in the NYT


with BUSH and the word Joker (or bad joke) underneath

Common Birdie! You are letting your politics cloud your analogies. Bush cannot be the Joker. The Joker was a smart villian. If you want to say that Bush was a smart villian then the analogy works.

apparently, it's been up for months and only recently was appropriated by the anonymous person who added the "socialism" banner.

search YouTube for how to Jokerize photos with Photoshop or The Gimp and you'll find many tutorials... why is a political cartoon no longer okay if the subject is Obama?? I saw one editorial denouncing the image because Obama is in "white face"?????????? ummm, it's the Joker: his face is white.... his eyes are black.. his hair is green... his lips are red (at least in the modern Dark Knight versions).

if he uploads the same image without the Time logo and it stays, then Flickr has an argument, but if they delete it again, then it's censorship..

all politicians know they they will be the subject of parody and criticism, and adding Joker elements to a photo is a pretty harmless way to make a statement, or in this case, with the original photo, not the "socialism" one, no statement at all.

I always liked the poster of George W. Bush as Alfred E. Neuman (What? Me Worry?) from Mad Magazine.

Politician's faces are fair game for satire, sarcasm and defamation. It comes with being in the public eye.

R. Lee Hadden (These are my own opinions!)

The image is a parody and should be protected by the Fair Use principle both for using the copyrighted Time photo and the copyrighted Joker likeness. The argument for copyright would then only apply if, as the previous comment notes, the original spoof doesn't have the 'Socialism' tag. Then this version might be infringing on the original parodist's copyrights.

(continued from "Fair Use")

As for arguments of it being disturbing or tasteless, maybe so. I don't like it, myself. But my reason for not liking it is mostly aesthetic. I'm not an Obama worshipper, but I also don't think he's the AntiChrist. He's another politician, as far as I can see. I voted for his opponent last time. Might vote for O next time. Don't know yet.

My beef with the picture is that the Joker image and the 'Socialism' tag don't seem to have any connection. The Joker is an insane murderer, not a socialist. ("You've got it!" they cry. "Socialists and serial killers are the same thing, historically speaking.") But if that's supposed to be the connection, wouldn't it carry the message better to picture President O in a Hitler or Stalin 'stache? Maybe a Che Guevara beret? (No, wait, Che is cool these days. That would convey entirely the wrong message.) Not that such an image would be any less disturbing or tasteless, but at least the creator's political statement would be clearer.

The image is clearly supposed to be insulting, but it's not a particularly clever or even well thought out insult. Yes, we get that the PhotoShopper hates Obama. But I get the impression that he's not quite ready to replace Rush or Hannity as the cleverly argumentative (or arguably clever) Voice of Conservatism. Still, tasteless is in the eye of the beholder. I guess some people really like it.

(continued from "Fair Use" and "The Death of Wit")

As for removing the image, if there's a copyright issue, Flickr is entirely within their rights to pull it down. Also, if for some other reason it doesn't fit in with the policies of Flickr, they can pull it down. Flickr can set its own rules.

Sure, this is protected speech/expression. The Freedom of Speech guaranteed by the Constitution is precisely for this purpose. The right was undeniably established to -- at a minimum -- protect the right of a citizen to speak out politically, even if that means insulting the president.

(Sitting members of Congress compared Dubya to Hitler, for crying out loud, and they weren't censored.)

But then, the Constitution is the basic rulebook for THE GOVERNMENT. Washington can't censor the image. Your local police department can't censor the image. But Flickr is a private business, not a branch of the government. ("Not yet!" I hear the Socialism-paranoid replying.)

Flickr may face the wrath of its user community for taking the image down. (My advice: Take a lesson from Whole Foods, folks, and keep your business politically neutral.) But they're not stepping on anybody's constitutional rights. It might be censorship, but if it's a private business, it's not illegal or unconstitutional.

Here is a picture on Flickr that was supposedly taken in LA that shows the poster on some bridge supports.

tricks & deceit...smarts, not really, but smart enough to surround himself with others who had brains and supported his malevolent intentions.

Honestly it should have been Cheney in the Vanity Fair graphic.

They didn't take down this one yet... http://www.flickr.com/photos/30040318@N08/2804385836/

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