Flashback

The Obama billboard scandal

President Obama is featured on a new clothing-ad billboard—too bad the company didn't ask his permission

Coat maker Weatherproof broke a long-standing taboo against using a president's image for commercial purposes by putting a larger-than-life AP photo of President Obama wearing one of its jackets onto a Times Square billboard. The unauthorized sign appeared just hours after the PETA anti-fur ad featuring First Lady Michelle Obama, also without White House permission. The Obama administration asked Weatherproof to take down the billboard, calling it an implicit endorsement, but stunt-prone Weatherproof president Freddie Stollmack said it was "just a great looking jacket on a great looking president." Is Obama's image fair game, or did the company step over the line? (See the Obama billboard.)

The Obama billboard is unacceptable: Weatherproof made a "terrible" choice, says Greta Van Susteren at Fox News. "This is not a Democrat or Republican issue"—it's an American one. You can't just "steal the president's likeness." Obama, like all his predecessors, "is the president, not a prop.""This is terrible"
This is the price of being iconic: Lighten up, says Jennifer Harper in The Washington Times. At least the president looks, "well, presidential" on the billboard. And Michelle Obama, "dressed in a svelte black dress and pearls," is surrounded by Oprah and other glamourous celebrities. This just shows "there is a price to pay when one is a global style icon.""Fur flies for using Obamas in ads"

Obama should ignore this exploitation: The administration would win if it sued Weatherproof, said intellectual property lawyer Kevin M. Greenberg, to The New York Times. But any good lawyer would tell Obama this isn't a battle worth fighting. The "very long" trial "would in fact be rewarding" Weatherproof with valuable publicity, instead of punishing the company for "stealing" the president's image. "Coat maker transforms Obama photo into ad"

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