A group of students have been slapped with a warning from Invisible Children, the Kony 2012 campaigners, after their online parody mocks the Kony 2012 initiative.
Kony 2012 was an awareness-raising campaign to arrest Joseph Kony and it received significant coverage across the internet when the activist group’s video went viral.
Now, a group of students from the New York University created Kickstriker, which parodies the Kony 2012 campaign, by calling for community funding to hire mercenaries to hunt Kony down.
Kickstriker is also a parody itself, satirising the Kickstarter crowd-funding phenomenon.
Invisible Children don’t seem to be able to share in the joke, and have sent the students a cease-and-desist notice.
Invisible Children demanded that the group: “Confirm in writing that [they] have permanently deleted all electronic copies of the unauthorized and infringing materials from any computers, servers, or other distribution media”; take down any links to Invisible Children’s material; and declare “in a prominent location” that Kickstriker is “in no way associated with Invisible Children, Inc. or the Kony 2012 campaign.”
The student group responded: “The purpose of our website, Kickstriker.com (henceforth ‘Kickstriker’), is to critique a number of institutions, including Invisible Children, through the use of political satire,” Kickstriker’s Mehan Jayasuriya, James Borda and Josh Begley replied. “As such, while Kickstriker makes use of the trademarked terms ‘Invisible Children’ and ‘KONY 2012,’ these uses are protected under the doctrine of fair use, which allows for such uses for the purposes of criticism and commentary.”
Even though Kickstriker plans to contest any legal action Invisible Children may bring, the group’s parody had a bigger agenda. “It was designed to be a one-off, self-contained sort of thing,” Jayasuriya says. Although it got media attention, “we had all hoped that the site would kick off a conversation about the ethics of crowdsourcing, privatized warfare and clicktivism and that still has yet to happen.”