Autism Speaks Intimidates yet another Autistic Blogger – Chilling Effects
After the negative publicity Autism Speaks received for threatening to sue a 14 year old autistic girl for her perfectly legal parody website, you would think that the organization learned their lesson. Unfortunately, they’re at it again, this time threatening an autistic blogger’s t-shirt company with legal action for a shirt that read “‘Autism Speaks’ can go away. I have Autism. I can speak for myself.” The organization claimed the t-shirt was a violation of copyright, despite the fact that such a t-shirt is protected as free speech.
Autism Speaks, which claims to speak for autism, has no autistic employees or board members with autism and is viewed as a bully by many autistic individuals who feel that the organization engages in tactics that marginalize their voices and contribute to an environment that hurts the lives of those with Autism. Their most recent move certainly supports such an argument.
Read on for the details and links.
AspieWeb is run by an autistic individual named Zach, who posted about the incident on his site. Zach has designed a variety of humorous and more serious t-shirts for people with autism. He is one of the countless autistic individuals who feel that Autism Speaks does more harm than good so his t-shirts voice sentiments shared by a large community.
Zach received the following notice from his t-shirt company:
Thank you for your email.
Thank you for your interest in Zazzle.com, and thank you for publishing products on Zazzle. Unfortunately, we have been contacted by Autism Speaks Inc. and it was requested that these products be removed from Zazzle.com. At the risk of legal action taken against Zazzle and yourself as a contributor of these products, it was decided that it was in the best interest of both parties to have the products removed from the Zazzle Marketplace.
Thanks for using Zazzle!
Content Management Team
Hopefully Zach will find another company to print his t-shirts; preferably one that understands copyright law.
Update: According to Zach, Zazzle is now claiming that the shirt that Autism Speaks had a problem with was a different shirt on Zazzle. I have to wonder then why Zazzle told Zach that Autism Speaks had a problem with his shirt. I also wonder what shirt Autism Speaks had a problem with. They never said and Autism Speaks still claims to have never contacted Zazzle.