Have you seen the blog WTForever 21? It’s an amusing send-up of the ginormous clothing chain, providing colorful commentary on the store’s more heinous creations while occasionally highlighting some of its nicer offerings. Readers get a chuckle, blogger Rachel Kane gets an enjoyable hobby, and the fast fashion behemoth gets a few hits to their site in the process. Win-win-win, right?
Apparently not. Despite having a twisted enough sense of humor to try to charge people money for this ridiculous ruffled romper, Forever 21 was unamused by Kane’s little exercise in satire and sent her a scary cease-and-desist letter demanding she take down her blog at once or risk being sued. It’s full of bullshit accusations like trademark infringement (her site says right at the top that it’s not affiliated in any way with Forever 21), and using images from the company’s website without express written permission. But how are you supposed to criticize a company if you’re not even allowed to say its name in print or online?!
I’m no lawyer, but I’m pretty sure this blog falls under the fair use doctrine, whereby people may reproduce parts of someone else’s work without permission for the purposes of satire or cultural commentary. Without it, there would be no “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” no The Onion, and potentially no TheGloss! (What a sad, sad world that would be.) Also: no first amendment rights. Why don’t they just move to Red China if they hate our freedom so much?!
Adding irony to the situation, Forever 21 has itself been sued for copying the designs of people like Gwen Stefani and Diane Von Furstenburg. (They’ve always settled these matters for “undisclosed amounts.”) And then of course, there’s the whole Christianity thing; they print “John 3:16” on the bottoms of all their bags to advertise their “strong faith.” Would their friend Jesus go after the little guy like this, or would he simply turn the other (giant, massive, powerful, corporate) cheek?
Unfortunately, no matter how good a case she has, there’s no way a single individual stands a chance in court against a deep-pocketed corporation and its legal team. They basically have enough money so they can do whatever they want to whomever they want, and get away with it. Her best bet at this point is probably to get the ACLU involved, but until then we can send the company a small “fuck you” message by refusing to buy their cheap, gaudy, freedom-and-muffin-top-restricting clothes. It might not make a huge dent in their profits, but maybe if we all talk about it, it’ll create a PR nightmare for them, too. Going after a nice young woman for exercising her freedom of speech is even tackier than those sequined tube tops they sell.
(Via The Village Voice)