I am the President and I Will Not Be Mocked! *seconds later the mocking begins*

Mr. President, you were totally asking for this photo of you “skeet shooting” to be edited the minute you told us not to do it. You know Americans, we are incorrigible and we really like our 1st amendment rights.

So this comment:

“This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photography may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggest approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.”


was sort of like waving a giant red sheet in front of the raging bull of conservative disdain.

What exactly did you think was going to happen?

First of all, you are a public figure. Everything you do and every photo you put out of the public, no matter what nicely worded request you tack on to it, is open for public shows of adoration and scorn to anyone who cares to make one.

Secondly, parody is protected under the 1st amendment (as someone who taught constitutional law, you’d think you would know that). So what are you going to do? Spank us for photoshopping your photo? We’ve been doing that for upwards of 4 years, did you really think that this time would be any different?

In fact, conservatives probably made more photoshopped images as a result of this directive from the White House, as a giant middle finger salute to you and your administration.

As I have no artistic ability whatsoever (the extent of my editing ability is the fact that I can doodle a little, make business cards on Vistaprint, and print brochures and flyers for my office) I’ll just share a few of my favorite photoshopped salutes to the 1st amendment and parody.



  1. So this standard disclaimer says not to use the image to “suggest approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House”–seems like it has more to do with limiting commercialism rather than discouraging mockery.

    Jon Stewart feels free to mock Obama (to his face as well), so I wouldn’t see losing parodying rights as a major concern.

    • I’m pretty sure you didn’t read that write, because it says

      The photography may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials

      It may not be manipulated OR used in commercial or political materials.

      • I don’t want to put too fine a point on removing the context of a particular clause, but what I’m trying to say is that the copyright is standard across all the photos and is not meant to do anything beyond its commonplace purpose – that is, those disclaimers just aren’t there to dissuade people from playing with photos for private use.

        The fact that the Daily Show or SNL or whoever can do it on national TV, without so much as a slap on the wrist, means it’s really no big deal to the administration if it’s done in humor.

        • That clause is CLEARLY an attempt to tell people not to photoshop it, whether it was enforceable or not.
          Please excuse the following grammar lecture.

          “And” is a coordinating conjunction in this case. Used to combine two independent clauses, which could stand alone completely. They are two separate ideas combined into one sentence to get ride of repetition. The first independent clause is “The photography may not be manipulated in any way.” The 2nd is “The photography may not be used in commercial or political materials.”

          Yes, we all know that it the clause was unenforceable because of the 1st amendment, that doesn’t make is less funny that the Obama administration (run by a man that, supposedly, taught constitutional law) thought that putting in would do any good. In fact, that just makes it more hilarious. It was, essentially, one giant whine.

  2. I do appreciate the insight on syntax and how it applies here. I’m in no position to interpret legal phrasing, but I did try to consider the context and will continue improving on this attempt. The third time is the charm, so I’ll give it one last try. One of my considerations was that the disclaimer was a standard one, not crafted especially to protect a photo from ridicule. http://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse/3484824164/in/photostream

    The fact that these few words in a standard disclaimer gets so much attention strikes me as strange. Giving it importance suggests that the copyright was written under the assumption that casual internet users read online copyrights in full, and that those users would believe that those select words apply to them, rather than to the people who are supposed to be concerned about disclaimers (i.e. artists/employees looking to use photos in a commercial/political arena). I find it doubtful that the government cares if someone digitally places Nerfs in Obama’s hands so she can share it on Facebook, while Obama/Biden endorse SNL/the Daily Show, which take turns freely making fun of them.

    • So you’re argument is that the disclaimer doesn’t mean what it says?

      The phrasing, whether it’s standard or not, is outrageous and hilarious coming from a the White House of a President who taught constitutional law. What part of this are you not getting?

      This discussion = over.
      How much time are you going to devote to trying to refute my point?

Comments are closed.