Apr 7, 2011

All FSM themed products have been removed from all Zazzle stores.

Earlier today, I began getting emails informing me that that my products were being removed due to copyright infringement.  All of them FSM themed.

"Your Design contains an image or text that may infringe on intellectual property rights. We have been contacted by the intellectual property right holder and we will be removing your product from Zazzle’s Marketplace due to infringement claims."
Upon further inspection, it appears that all Flying Spaghetti Monster themed products have been removed from every store built on Zazzle.  I have sent an email to the creator of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Bobby Henderson (bobby.henderson@gmail.com), inquiring about the incident.  I've also contacted Zazzle to inquire as to who is claiming copyright infringement.  If you too have had your FSM products pulled, I suggest you do the same.  

It really doesn't seem as though Bobby would claim copyright infringement.  The popularity of the FSM is a result of a group effort.  If anything, ubiquity of the FSM in atheist shops only helps the cause, which is to keep religion out of American classrooms by illustrating the absurdity of intelligent design.  Plus, taking anti-piracy measures for an organization that requires it's adherents to dress as pirates seems counter intuitive.  It may be that somebody masquerading as Bobby Henderson has contacted zazzle in order to get all FSM products pulled.

Of course, it would be Bobby's right to claim copyright of the FSM, but, It does seem an odd move to do so only now and only on zazzle.com  

I received a response from zazzle.com this morning...
Unfortunately, it appears that your product does not meet Zazzle Acceptable Content Guidelines. Specifically, your product contained a design infringes upon the intellectual property rights of Flying Spaghetti Monster, LLC.

We have been contacted by Flying Spaghetti Monster, LLC, and at their request, have removed the product from the Zazzle Marketplace.

We are sorry for any disappointment, but hope you will understand our position in this regard. For future reference, please review Zazzle Acceptable Content Guidelines at: http://zazzle.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/143.

If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Thanks for using Zazzle. We look forward to seeing more of your creative designs!

Best Regards,
Content Management Team
Zazzle, Inc.

I won't have a chance to look into  whether or not a Flying Spaghetti Monster LLC company actually exists until tonight.  No word from Bobby Henderson yet either.  I'll update as soon as I get more information. 

I've had a chance to run a Business Registry Business Name Search and there is indeed a business by the name of "Flying Spaghetti Monster LLC" registered to Robert Henderson.  If the claim was a forgery, they've done  their homework.  We won't know for sure until we hear back from Bobby.  I'll post as soon as I get a response...  
Bobby has yet to reply directly to me, so I am as yet unsure as to whether or not it was he who removed all the designs from Zazzle.  However, I did find this on his website.
"It’s ok to use FSM materials for your own use and to spread the word – I’m happy to see it. There have been a number of sports team and club shirts — I can provide high quality images/vector designs for screen printing, just let me know.

That said, it’s not ok to *SELL* FSM products:

A couple reasons for this. I’m wary of the FSM being used in designs with slogans that are purposely antagonistic or otherwise harmful to the Cause. I’m thinking of a case years ago where someone was selling overtly caustic anti-religion shirts with various FSM designs and it became a problem.

I’m all for pointed criticism and humor at the expense of too-powerful religious institutions, but that is a very different thing than declaring someone is stupid for being religious. I’m strongly against simple intentional offense just for the sake of offending – I believe it makes the larger problem worse, causes everyone to entrench in their views, and gives ammunition to opponents. I have no say in the broader non-religious movements, but I don’t want FSM seen as cynical and negative. This is very important to me.

Second, unlike mainstream religions, there is no soliciting for donations or tithing here. This server was expensive to build and is expensive to run, and it’s funded by sales of shirts/books/emblems. Because of that, I am aware of the hundreds of FSM products offered that don’t support this site, and the few who I feel hurt the cause. I believe most people have good intentions, but also I don’t want to see this organization disappear.

If there’s something specific you want offered on the FSM store, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

If ever possible, I would love to do away with all merchandising – I think it hurts the purity of the Cause. It would be nice if there was a rich benefactor keeping things afloat. (Accepting applications).
So, having read the page, I think it covers a lot of things pretty nicely.  It lays out the unfortunate reasons that necessitate the need to control merchandising of the FSM and those reasons are genuine and understandable. I'm glad I can finally have some closure on the issue.  It leaves some questions unanswered however, such as why Zazzle seems to be the only site targeted out of dozens, and why he waited for years before only now making a copyright claim.

And so, in keeping with Bobby's guidelines and in the spirit of a true pirate.  I'm releasing the full resolution image of my favorite original FSM design to the public, Viva la Pastafarion!  Click for full size image.  Do with it as you wish!  Just be sure not to sell it as to keep within the guidelines of the Church of the FSM.

click to download full resolution image


  1. If this is due to the actions of some 'lobby' group it is an utter disgrace.

    I can only imagine that Zazzle will suffer from the negative press.

  2. Most likely it's the same stunt the creationists pulled on youtube, wrongfully labeling atheist videos with false DMCA's. That was criminal and actionable. I honestly don't know whether this is too or not...

  3. a comment from FB
    Michael Johnson "The good news is that they have to tell you who reported the copyright infringement and misuse of copyright laws carries the weight of perjury in federal court. If one person did this you can seek both civil and criminal action against them."

  4. No updates as of yet. I'll update this post as soon as I learn more.

  5. Thanks for posting this. Zazzle's procedure in this regards is something of a mystery to me. They once tried to remove something from my store that had a short quotation from Christopher Hitchens, and I got them to re-instate it by pointing out that it was fair use of a widely quoted line. I suspected that someone who just didn't like it reported the item - but I have no idea.

  6. My design was also removed even though it was my own hand drawn original interpretation of the FSM, modified to have a dual purpose to boot (FSM=Finite State Machine). So he/they are certainly taking down anything FSM related, not just direct rip-off's of the images on their site.

  7. I am glad I found your Blog and your article, I am going through the same problem.

    I just had a product removed from my store with the painting of the "Lone Cypress".

    The explanation I received was that I was "copyright infringement", although that painting is a reproduction of an original photograph I own.

  8. I had a card removed for trademark infringement. The card had a picture I had taken myself of a horse and a cow.
    The text said "Have you heard? Someone is turning 60"

    Seems there is a company trademarked as Have you Heard INC.

    My photo is not part of the trademark, and the text I used doesn't resemble the text used in thier design.

    I really don't see how this could be legal.


Please keep all comments civil. Please keep any arguments rational.

Thank you.