If we're going to give Invisible Children one thing, it's that they're earnest. Earnest enough to threaten a lawsuit against a bunch of NYU kids making a mockery of their brand of activism and earnest enough not to see the obvious joke here of how obtuse their own organization can be. The problem, as the producers of this year's wildly popular KONY 2012 campaign see it, is that there's a website out there riffing off of Kickstarter — the fundraising website for independent, sometimes twee projects — named Kickstriker which has Invisible Children in its sights (the site, doesn't appear to be bothering Kickstarter yet). Which is why they've threatened the site with a cease and desist warning. “It has come to our attention that you are causing public confusion through your use of Invisible Children’s copyrighted and trademarked property on www.kickstriker.com. This impermissible use is a blatant and egregious infringement of Invisible Children’s valuable copyright and trademark rights," read a letter Invisible Children sent last week and acquired by Wired's Danger Room blog. “[F]ailure to cease and desist your unlawful use of Invisible Children’s intellectual property will result in legal action.”
"The purpose of our website, Kickstriker.com (henceforth ‘Kickstriker’), is to critique a number of institutions, including Invisible Children, through the use of political satire, Kickstriker’s Mehan Jayasuriya, James Borda and Josh Begley (graduate students at NYU and students of Internet professor Clay Shirky) responded in a letter picked up by Wired's Spencer Ackerman who's been following the site since its creation. "As such, while Kickstriker makes use of the trademarked terms ‘Invisible Children’ and ‘KONY 2012,’ these uses are protected under the doctrine of fair use, which allows for such uses for the purposes of criticism and commentary."
If you look at the actual Kickstriker site, it's pretty obvious that it's a parody as a $1 million donation can get you a toothless Joseph Kony's skull. But belabored responses have become an M.O. of sorts for Invisible Children, though most ended in overwrought videos and not in legal action.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.