Lawsuit against Carpe Donktum over pro-Trump meme DISMISSED

It was nearly a year ago that meme artist Carpe Donktum suffered a permanent Twitter ban over a meme allegedly for copyright infringement. Those who felt they had been infringed upon lawyered up, but once the case hit the courts, it was thrown out.

Libby Emmons Brooklyn NY

It was nearly a year ago that meme artist Carpe Donktum suffered a permanent Twitter ban over a meme allegedly for copyright infringement. Those who felt they had been infringed upon lawyered up, but once the case hit the courts, it was thrown out.

The plaintiffs in the case brought suit before the Supreme Court of the State of New York, but the defendants, Donald J. Trump and Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., asked for the charges to be dismissed. And they were.

The court documents detail what happened, and what the charges were.

What was Donktum accused of doing? He used a meme to create another meme. Donktum's meme used footage of two toddler boys running down the street, a black boy is running in front of the white boy.

Court documents detail that it was in September 2019 that the plaintiffs "recorded video of their two year old sons… respectively, hugging each other on a New York City sidewalk." The video of the children, one of whom is black and the other who is white, "went viral as a  symbol of racial unity."

Meme-maker Carpe Donktum "shared the  video with Trump, who was then President of the United States, as well as Trump's campaign." The court documents state that they are alleged to have "misappropriated the video by altering it and intentionally using it out of context to  create 'an extremely distorted and false message.'"

Donktum "added a simulated CNN chyron reading 'breaking news' to the footage, changed it to show... the  white child, running after... the black child, and added captions reading 'Terrified Todler  [sic] Runs From Racist Baby' and 'Racist Baby Probably A Trump Voter.' The shot then fades to a black screen with text stating 'what actually happened', and then shows" the two boys running towards each other and then embracing. The shot then fades to a black  screen with the following message in all capital letters:  AMERICA IS NOT THE PROBLEM . . . FAKE NEWS IS. IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING. ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT FAKE NEWS DUMPSTER FIRES."

The intention of it was to point out the fake news put out by CNN and mainstream media. It showed how easy it is for news media to take video and manipulate it to support their narrative of reality.  It was, as the plaintiff's lawyer Ven Johnson noted, tweeted out by the Trump campaign.

Trump shared the meme on his now banned Twitter account and on his Facebook page, according to court documents. Twitter and Facebook both removed the video, based on both copyright concerns and that it was "likely to cause harm" to the plaintiffs. As a result, Carpe Donktum's account was banned from Twitter.

The meme was in the public domain, according to Donktum, but the meme's original creator sought legal action in an attempt to punish Donktum because the meme was popular with supporters of President Trump.

The plaintiffs then claimed that the video was used without their consent, and further was used for "advertising purposes and/or for the solicitation of patronage for Trump in the State of New York." The alleged that they had endured "pain and suffering and mental anguish."

Donktum replied at the time, saying "Yes, I have been permanently banned from Twitter for 'copyright infringement.' I have always abided by any DCMA takedown I have received. I have NEVER violated a takedown. The most recent takedown was this morning and it was fraudulent. The Toddler video was and is public domain and protected by the law under satire and parody. Thanks for your support."

"As a second cause of action," the court documents read, "plaintiffs alleged intentional infliction  of emotional distress ("IIED"), asserting that the defendants' conduct was shocking and  outrageous and either intended to cause harm or recklessly disregarded the substantial probability  that it would cause such harm."

The plaintiffs sought money from the defendants. The defendants, Trump and his campaign, said that the case should be dismissed because the "[p]arody [m]eme unequivocally involves a topic of significant public concern." They argued further that "the video is protected because it is Satirical… and that it was not directed at any of the plaintiffs, whom they did not even  know."

Trump and his campaign also assert in their motion to dismiss the case that "it is a strategic lawsuit against public participation ('SLAPP') improperly designed to prevent them from exercising 'their right to  publicly petition and participate.'" Free speech rights were also a consideration in the request for dismissal.

The court determined that This Court finds that plaintiffs' claims... are subject to dismissal on several grounds." The meme was, the court found, "newsworthy." The note that part of the campaign message, "as well as his presidency, was to incessantly attack the mainstream media as purveyors of 'fake news', including his claim that the media exaggerates the extent of racial division in this country."

"Additionally," the court continued, "'works of fiction and satire do not fall within the narrow scope of the statutory phrases 'advertising' and 'trade.'"

"[A]ny reasonable person watching the video knew, or should have known, that at least a portion of its contents was not real. Since the video is therefore a satire, albeit one which some may consider to be rather distasteful, this Court is constrained to find that it is not actionable."

The court found that the video wasn't used "to solicit 'patronage of a particular product or service', it was not used for advertising purposes... Nor was the video used for the purposes of trade."

In anticipation of the case, lawyer Ven Johnson for the plaintiffs released a video on Twitter. Ven Johnson, of Ven Johnson Law, could be seen sitting in a corporate setting discussing the meaning behind Juneteenth, and his support for it. "We have that chapter behind us, and obviously, we need to face our past and we we gotta be in this thing together, all races working together," he said.

Then he got to the point of the video. "I also want to remind you," he said, "that last year, on Juneteenth, then President Trump thought it'd be a good time to post a racist, doctored video that involved my client, we call that the 'Toddler Video Case.'"

"That case is still pending in state court," the lawyer said. "We'll be arguing a huge motion to dismiss coming up, where the defendants—Trump, and others—are trying to throw it out of court, we'll say 'no,' of course, and we'll fight for our clients and I'll report back to you."

He stated his solidarity with "African Americans folk and all folks of color," vowing to "never let that happen again anywhere in our world."

Signing off, he said "keep on fighting, no justice no peace."

With the case thrown out, it appears that justice has been served.


Join and support independent free thinkers!

We’re independent and can’t be cancelled. The establishment media is increasingly dedicated to divisive cancel culture, corporate wokeism, and political correctness, all while covering up corruption from the corridors of power. The need for fact-based journalism and thoughtful analysis has never been greater. When you support The Post Millennial, you support freedom of the press at a time when it's under direct attack. Join the ranks of independent, free thinkers by supporting us today for as little as $1.

Support The Post Millennial

Remind me next month

To find out what personal data we collect and how we use it, please visit our Privacy Policy

By signing up you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy
© 2023 The Post Millennial, Privacy Policy