Copyright law is intended to promote the advancements of the arts and sciences by allowing the creator of a work to benefit financially.  This incentive, it is reasoned, will encourage people to create art, music, books, movies, etc.  However sometimes copyright is abused, and used to suppress political discussion, as occurred here:

Tamara K created a bumper sticker with a political message, opposed to the “change” offered by presidential candidate Barack Obama.  It read “No thanks, keep the change” with the “o” being replaced by the Obama campaign logo.  Zazzle, the online bumper sticker printing service removed the bumper sticker, claiming that it violated copyrigh.

First, it would seem that this is fair use, given the fact that the logo was used for political expression, which is the most highly protected type of free speech.  Also, it is difficult to express this political idea without use of the logo, given the constraints imposed by the bumper sticker format…

More importantly than the actual copyright analysis is the manner in which copyright law was used to suppress free speech.  There is often a tension between copyright and the 1st Amendment, and usually when the two come into conflict over a political issue, copyright law yeilds – at least on matters that make it to court.  However in situations like this, companies such as Zazzle will often just remove the political speech because it is an easy way to make the issue go away.  This is a problem.

Note: I am not endorsing Tamara K’s view on Obama, but rather discussing only the problem of copyright misusse.