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article imageOp-Ed: Guess who ordered the Akbar image removed from Zazzle

By Bill Schmalfeldt     Aug 15, 2012 in Politics
This is the fourth part of a series about Ali Akbar, a young ex-con who went from the jail cell to the heights of the young Republican establishment before his probation expired -- and who may have helped in ways we can only imagine.
The Liberal Grouch blinked in disbelief at the e-mail response he had received to his questions to the Zazzle Management Team, which had just informed him they were removing an image of Ali Akbar, wearing a Barack Obama mask, waving money in the photographer's face.
How in God's name can Karl Rove claim intellectual property rights over the image? He's not pictured. His full name is not used. Unless he has copyrighted the word "Rove" or "Mister Rove," the only way he could claim intellectual property rights would be...
...if he took the photo?
The Grouch rolled that idea around in his head. Look at the setting. It seems to be a private room somewhere. The flash indicates the camera, most likely a smart phone, was being held at a level below and in front of Akbar... about belt level.
"Oh, lord," he thought.
The Grouch tried to contact Akbar via Twitter to get a comment. Still blocked. He wrote to Karl Rove's contact info on his website. No reply. He and other bloggers poured over the issue for about a month, but no new info came out...
Except for the fact that Rove suddenly, days after his alleged "gay panic" attack on the Greta Van Sustren show on Fox, dashed off to Italy where he married his long time female friend, some say his "beard", Karen Johnson. Also along for the honeymoon fun, Rove's pal, casino owner and contributor, Steve Wynn. But who doesn't take a good pal along for the ride on a fancy, Italian honeymoon?
Further poking and prodding at Akbar produced no results and the story went cold.
Until yesterday. We were contacted by Alabama investigative reporter Lori Moore. While investigating the Rove-connected "railroading" of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman, she ran across the Grouch's story about having his Zazzle image pulled down at the demand of Karl Rove.
She used the same contact form the Grouch had used in July. But instead of ignoring her, as they had him, they responded within hours.
So, the Grouch responded to the Rove spokesperson.
Ms. Tahilramani:
She got her research and information from me. I am the person who had an item removed from Zazzle at the demand of Karl Rove & Company as it "infringed on your intellectual property rights".
Attached in the e-mail correspondence I had with Zazzle, a copy of the photo in question, and a screen cap of my attempt to contact your office for an explanation. I had intended to donate the profits from the sale of an item I created to the National Parkinson Foundation. They provide services to people like myself and our caregivers. I am a retired government writer, living with PD for more than 12 years now. Rove's decision is the same thing as taking money away from people with Parkinson's disease. Now, I know Rove and Company does not want to be seen as a company that stands against the funding of a cure for Parkinson's — that would be horrible publicity for Mr. Rove and might disturb his new marriage, a happy occurrence taking place shortly after a published news account that suggested Mr. Rove might not be so inclined as to marry a person of the opposite sex. So, I know I can count on a quick, ON THE RECORD, response from you as to the reasons this photograph was claimed as Mr Rove's intellectual property.
I hope I can count on your speedy response, as I have waited for months to hear something, and you responded to Ms. Moore's inquiry the same day as she asked.
BTW: A little lesson in journalism. You need to get the reporter's AGREEMENT that something will be off the record BEFORE you share the information.
Now… please… once and for all so we can put this matter to rest… what was Rove's "intellectual property interest" in this photo?
She responded with the exact same information she sent to Ms. Moore.
I am not sure where you are getting your research and information but we do not request the removal of anything for which we do not hold rights to.
This riled up the Grouch, but good.
Sheena. I got my information from Zazzle, which says Karl Rove ordered the removal of the image. I have provided you with the image. I have provided you with the letter from Zazzle. Are you saying Zazzle lied? Or are you claiming Karl Rove owns the intellectual rights to the image? You need to clear this up, Sheena. Standard, pat answers will not do here. The facts are, Zazzle removed the image. They explained they were contacted by Karl Rove and Company which said they owned the intellectual property to the image.
Your answer does not say you did NOT order the removal of the image. So, I will take your response and report it as the image WAS removed at the request of Karl Rove because Karl DOES have intellectual property rights to the image, because, according to Sheena A. Tahilramani, Chief of Staff of Karl Rove & Company, "we do not request the removal for anything
we do not hold rights to."
Will that be factually correct?
The game was afoot.
As I said, we do not request the removal of anything for which we do not own the rights to.
My best suggestion is that you contact Zazzle and clear up any miscommunication with them.
Appreciate you reaching out and I hope you're able to successfully resolve the issue.
The Grouch felt he was being played with as the Rove flack parsed her words. So, he sent her the actual image that had taken down.
OK, did Rove and Company demand removal of THIS image? This is the image that I was marketing to raise money for PD. Zazzle was as clear as clear could be. The item was the intellectual property of Karl Rove. Are you saying that Rove & Company did not order the removal of THIS image? Does Mr. Rove claim intellectual property rights over the word "Rove" or "Mr. Rove"? Has he copyrighted that word?
I just want to be absolutely clear. The image I've showed you so far was not on the items I was trying to sell. THIS image was. So, yes or no. Did Rove and Company contact Zazzle, as they clearly stated in their e-mail to me, and demand that this image, the one attached to this e-mail, be removed from my Zazzle account because Rove had "intellectual property rights"?
This time, a clear, non-parsed response.
We did not request the removal of this particular item or image.
Please contact Zazzle if you have any additional questions or concerns.
So. Somebody is lying. Either Zazzle lied about who demanded the image be removed, or the Rove flack is lying today.
We've written to the Content Management Team at Zazzle to see if they can shed any further light on this issue. We will share their response.
But none of this sheds any real light on how someone can literally go from the gutter, to being quoted by columnists like Dan Weigel of Slate as being a mover and shaker in the young Republican stratosphere. With no money, no visible means of support, only a semester of college and a felony conviction, who picked up the tab? Who paid his way? Who placed him in this position of power? And why won't he answer these questions? We don't believe Zazzle had any reason to lie about Rove demanding the item be removed from the Zazzle story. So, why is Rove lying about it? Is he lying about it? Or does Zazzle have some inexplicable reason to lie?
Why did Karl Rove dash off and get married to a female friend he has known for years mere days after published reports suggested he was having an affair with Ali?
So many questions, too few answers. But interesting nonetheless.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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