After Forever 21 threatened to sue a fashion blogger for making fun of its clothes, the blogger, Rachel Kane, was initially cowed. Even though parody is generally protected speech, even though Forever 21's claims that readers might somehow mistake the joke site, WTForever21, for the corporate homepage were patently ludicrous, even though the very idea of Forever 21 prosecuting a copyright case instead of defending one raised eyebrows, the prospect of engaging in a long legal battle with a famously litigious and deep-pocketed company was not enticing. "Unless I can work something out with Forever 21, June 10 will be the last day for WTForever21.com, " she wrote in an email earlier this week, adding, "I'm so disheartened by this." Well! Kane has changed her mind.
This afternoon, Kane sent us this statement:
My site, WTForever21, does not infringe on any of Forever 21's rights. It contains only criticism, commentary, and news reporting, all written in an educational and humorous manner, which are protected under applicable law. To the extent any of the material used on the site is in fact subject to intellectual property protection (which, in many instances, is by no means clear), the site's incorporation of that material is a "fair use" under copyright, trademark law, and similar state law. It's incredibly unlikely that any portion of the site would ever cause confusion in the minds of the general public about whether or not Forever 21 endorses or is affiliated with it. The blog in no way dilutes Forever 21's trademark, as the company claims. If the company continues to makes threats that have no basis in law, my attorneys are prepared to vigorously defend me and seek all available legal redress against Forever 21.
In the meantime, I am leaving the blog up. I look forward to returning to blogging about fashion atrocities like lime green, faux fur covered vests and candy colored booty shorts on WTForever21.com.
If we don't have the right to mock funny-looking clothing and badly written advertising copy, really, what kind of a society are we living in?
This could get interesting. Forever 21 had earlier warned Kane that if she did not take down her site by June 10, the company would file a lawsuit against her. I contacted Jerry Noh, the Forever 21 lawyer who made that threat in a letter I obtained earlier this week, to see what the company's next step will be. I look forward to Noh's response.
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