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HBO Takes Immediate Action After Trump's Game Of Thrones Tweet

The President of the United States is in some hot water... with HBO.

In conjunction with Attorney General Bill Barr's morning press conference discussing the release of the redacted Mueller report, Donald Trump took to Twitter with a Game of Thrones-inspired image that quickly drew the ire of the cabler. Its overlaid text, in a very Thrones-y font, read, "No collusion. No obstruction. For the haters and the radical left Democrats — Game Over."

GoT fever is at an all-time high at the moment, with the first episode of the venerable series' final season having just aired this last Sunday, a fact which HBO slyly referenced in a statement following the president's tweet. "Though we can understand the enthusiasm for Game of Thrones now that the final season has arrived, we still prefer our intellectual property not be used for political purposes," it read. (via Deadline)

This is not the first time that Trump has gotten blowback for co-opting intellectual property to make political statements; for that matter, it's not even the first time he's used Game of Thrones to do so. Last November, he tweeted an image of himself with the text "Sanctions are coming" — again, rendered in a very familiar font — prompting an epic response from HBO's official Twitter account: "How do you say trademark misuse in Dothraki?" The snarky comeback, though, didn't keep Trump from basically pulling the same shenanigans again in January of this year with another Game of Thrones-style image posted to his Instagram, this one reading, "The wall is coming."

While HBO released a statement after the November incident saying they were not aware of and did not approve of the messaging, the network's spokesperson Jeff Cusson implied that no legal action would be taken. At the end of the day, the case could be made that such tweets — unusual as they are, coming from someone occupying the highest office in the land — could be regarded as parody, which is protected under the Fair Use act. 

Apparently, the president's legal team is only vaguely aware of the subtleties involved in copyright law, because it's barely been a week since the last kerfuffle involving a Trump tweet misappropriating intellectual property — and that incident actually ended with the offending tweet being removed. On April 9, the president posted a video hyping his 2020 reelection campaign — one that happened to be scored to "Why Do We Fall?" a classical piece by Hans Zimmer which was composed for the 2012 superhero flick The Dark Knight Rises. In that case, as well, the video used text rendered in font that was suspiciously similar to that used in the film's credits. Warner Brothers, the studio behind the Dark Knight trilogy, quickly responded with a curt statement reading: "The use of Warner Bros.' score from The Dark Knight Rises in the campaign video was unauthorized. We are working through the appropriate legal channels to have it removed." Parody is one thing, but as any rapper will tell you, you can't simply jack other peoples' tunes for your own purposes unless you want to end up in court.

While HBO may not have a case for trademark infringement, some legal analysts are of the opinion that — if they were so inclined — they could attempt to argue that the president's usage of Game of Thrones imagery constitutes trademark dilution, which is an entirely separate concept. Speaking with Wired magazine after the November tweet, Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Daniel Nazer made this point while conceding that such an action would likely be futile. "I think this would be a tough, a tough case," he said. "No one is likely to be confused that HBO is endorsing this tweet or sponsoring sanctions... My view is that this shouldn't be a viable suit." Nazer has a point, in that it's tough to picture any Game of Thrones loyalists taking the image as proof that HBO, the show's cast and crew, or anybody else associated with the series endorses or agrees with the president's opinion of the Mueller report. 

At any rate, while we are not in the business of taking political stances here at Looper, we are very much in the business of taking stances on Game of Thrones. With that in mind, we'd like to point out that the president's tweet doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense in the context of the series. We're pretty sure, unless we missed a crucial episode, that there are no Democrats in Westeros; we suppose there are plenty of "haters," though perhaps not in the way Mr. Trump meant. We will concede, however, that as of this May, the series will be drawing to a close; so, indeed, the Game is nearly over. Hey, like the old adage says, two out of three ain't bad.