Thanks to CBLDF and our coalition partners, the online marketplace Redbubble has reinstated a cartoon by Pulitzer Prize–winning editorial cartoonist Nick Anderson that was previously removed because of a meritless complaint by the Trump re-election campaign. CBLDF applauds Redbubble for reinstating the cartoon, and urges them to reject any other attempts by political campaigns to suppress protected speech.
Redbubble restored the cartoon on Wednesday morning, and acknowledged that its removal was an error in a Tweet:
In a statement to CBLDF, Nick Anderson said:
I am pleased that Redbubble reversed their decision. I applaud them for this and for recognizing that it was an error.
Still, there are some troubling issues raised.The cartoon was removed less than 24 hours after I posted it. I hadn’t gotten a single order for it. I doubt anyone had even seen it yet on the Redbubble site. This reveals that the Trump campaign has a system in place, trawling for material they find objectionable. If it happened to me so quickly, it likely has happened to others. How much other content has been removed this way on Redbubble and other sites?
Also, when I received the first notice of the take down, I followed Redbubble’s instructions to protest the decision. I honestly thought the original decision was probably made by some underling, with little knowledge of copyright or trademark law, or perhaps it was even made by a bot without human eyes evaluating it. It took more than a week before Redbubble responded (in contrast to the quick response for removal). I was quite surprised that Redbubble didn’t reverse the decision. In fact, they doubled down and refused to reinstate the work.
It was only after the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund intervened on my behalf – and the letter written by CBLDF started getting viral attention on social media – that Redbubble reversed their decision. In the end, I recognize that Redbubble did the right thing. But it must be pointed out; the President of the United States is a hypocrite who complains about the “violation” of his free speech on Twitter, then tries to actively suppress the free speech of others. These are actions of an adolescent, wannabe-authoritarian.
“We’re sensitive to the issues companies like Redbubble face in balancing competing rights owner issues, and were alarmed to see the President’s re-election campaign exploiting those issues to suppress protected speech,” says CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein. “Our letter articulates the case law in clear terms to help prevent future censorship of this nature. We’re pleased that Redbubble has done the right thing in this case. We hope that they will continue to assert the First Amendment rights they and their sellers are guaranteed by rejecting any similar censorship attempts.”
CBLDF was joined by Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, American Library Association, Office For Intellectual Freedom, Authors Guild, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Freedom to Read Foundation, National Coalition Against Censorship, and PEN America in the letter urging Redbubble to restore Mr. Anderson’s work, which is presented in full below.
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