Oprah for President Campaign Threatened

Fans of Oprah Winfrey hoping that she'll run for president have experienced the first hiccup in their campaign.

The talk show host is trying to put a stop to a Web site, book and toll free phone number that support the proposed 2008 Winfrey presidential bid.

According to a letter found on TheSmokingGun.com, retired Kansas City teacher Patrick Crowe is comitting copyright and trademark infringement by using Oprah's image as well as her name and the name Harpo, Inc. on his Web site oprah08.net, in his book "Oprah for President" and for the phone number 1-866-OPRAH08.

The Aug. 22 letter from The Entertainment & Intellectual Property Group, LLC attorney Jerry Glover states that the unauthorized use of Winfrey's name and likeness "fairly implies" that she and her company endorse or sponsor the campaign. The letter points to links to the sale of the book, buttons, bumper stickers and T-shirts as evidence of the site's commercial use. The law firm requested that Crowe to remove any images from the book and site, change the site's domain name and stop the use of the phone number and future numbers that would contain the name "OPRAH" or else legal action would be pursued.

Evidently, the threat has been ignored. The website, which automatically redirects the reader to the campaign site www.dreamagic.com/oprah that is not owned or operated by Crowe, posted a reaction to the letter.

"It is our right, if not our duty as citizens of the U.S.A., to do what we are doing," reads the posting. "We will ignore Harpo's lawyers and defy any court order they might obtain ... after all they DO have a great deal of money and influence ... to attempt to get us to do otherwise. In fact, WE demand an aplogy for the insult and possible injury that their accusations have caused US! If Oprah is behind it, she should apologize herself. However, we will be satisfied for an apology from Jerry Glover, the gentleman who signed his name to the document."

The campaigners believe that the law firm has no case against them.

"Apparently, these lawyers have never heard of the First Amendment to the U.S. constitution and the 'fair use' exception in copyright law," reads the site. "Also, concerning their trademark, they must be unaware of the lawsuit brought by Fox News against Al Franken. Al used Fox's trademarked term 'Fair and Balanced' in the title of a book ["Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right"], which was, of course, a political parody of that very term and Fox's use of it. Fox's lawyers were literally laughed out of court, the proceedings taking on the overtones of a comedy routine on 'Saturday Night Live.'

"In addition, courts have extensively ruled that using copyrighted material for political purposes is 'fair use.'"

The site also states that it has never claimed to be endorsed by Winfrey, since much of their efforts are spent trying to convince her to run in the first place.

The front page of the site features a picture of the smiling talk show host next to the words: "Oprah for President -- 2008/ Someone we can both love and trust!" It also includes the official theme song, "If Oprah Was President."