Donald Trump announced that he will be issuing new sanctions on November 5th with a post to social media that featured an image inspired by the mega hit HBO show “Game of Thrones.” “Sanctions are coming November 5,” the image read in the Game of Thrones’ series’ text font, an alternation of the show’s slogan that “Winter is coming.”
HBO clarified Friday that they do not want President Trump to “misappropriate” the slogan for “Game of Thrones” to promote his administration’s agenda. They do not want Trump using their slogan and they also said that he is violating their intellectual property, which is a clear hint that they are considering legal action.
“We were not aware of this messaging and would prefer our trademark not be misappropriated for political purposes,” an HBO spokeswoman told The Hill.
Trump posted the image below shortly after his administration announced plans to reimpose sanctions on Iran that were lifted under the Iran nuclear deal. The image clearly is a classic case of copyright infringement, as we will explore below. We included a screenshot in case Trump deletes it.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 2, 2018
This seems like a clear case of copyright infringement because it is a rip off of the Game of Thrones styling. You are allowed to use copyrighted designs and styling only under fair use. Fair use says you can use copyrighted material when you do something like a review or a critique, or if you make fun of something using satire.
But Trump’s post here is dead serious. This is an official announcement of U.S. sanctions and isn’t clearly being satirical. This is copyright infringement because it’s hard to make a case that saying “sanctions” are coming, instead of “winter” is coming, is funny or satirical, when it’s an official announcement of U.S. sanctions from the president’s court recognized account. He even directly copied Game of Thrones’ original font style. It will be interesting to see how HBO reacts to this clear case of copyright infringement.