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Absolut threatens bloggers over use of product in parody of Bush
Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Running a political parody of an Absolut vodka ad has generated national attention for two Pittsburgh bloggers and, predictably, a cease-and-desist letter from the Swedish liquor firm.

  
In a cease-and-desist letter, Absolut has asked Maria Lupinacci to remove her fake Absolut ad from her blog, 2 Political Junkies.
Blogger Maria Lupinacci says she wanted to tie the Bush administration to the phrase "absolute power corrupts absolutely" on her left-leaning blog. On Sept. 29, the 46-year-old graphic designer posted a fake Absolut ad to her blog -- 2 Political Junkies -- showing Bush and other leading Republicans caught inside a bottle and above the words "Absolut Corruption."

The ad was linked to Daily Kos and other popular liberal blogs. LA Weekly republished it on its editorial page, and 2 Political Junkies started getting 1,200 visits per day -- six times the usual tally, according to David DeAngelo, who co-writes the year-old site. Ms. Lupinacci and Mr. DeAngelo announced plans to print T-shirts and posters with the image.

A lawyer for Absolut's owners, V&S, e-mailed Lupinacci Nov. 14, saying the parody infringes on Absolut's copyright and trademark, and requested it be immediately removed. The firm's policy is to stay away from political statements of any kind, attorney Jenny Bergquist wrote, and "you are using the Absolut trademark in order to promote your political message."

The bloggers no longer plan to print materials with the image but have not removed it from their site. Mr. DeAngelo said their free speech rights should trump Absolut's copyright concerns, but granted he couldn't get into a long-term legal fight with the liquor company.

"If things get too hot, Maria and I have no money to hire attorneys," he said.

First published on November 23, 2005 at 12:00 am
Tim McNulty can be reached at tmcnulty@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1581.