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Orwell's Orwellian Estate Is Allegedly Trying to Stop People from Using the Number '1984'

It's just like the book! Sort of!

by Joe Goodman
Oct 27 2015, 3:30pm

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If having to pay an entry fee to visit Karl Marx's grave wasn't enough irony for this week, it's now emerged that George Orwell's estate is allegedly issuing takedown requests for people trying to profit from the numbers one, nine, eight, and four.

According to Torrentfreak, a publication focusing on copyright news, internet radio host Josh Hadley posted a T-shirt bearing the words "1984 Is Already Here" to his online CafePress merchandise store. Soon after, he received an email from CafePress, informing him that his product had been removed due to intellectual property rights infringement.

In the email, CafePress claims the design "may infringe the intellectual property rights of [the Orwell Estate]" because it featured a George Orwell "quote." However, the number "1984" isn't a quote, and book titles aren't protected by copyright law.

The irony of the situation isn't lost on Hadley, who told Torrentfreak: "First off is the irony of the estate of George Orwell being all Orwellian, but second is that you can't copyright a number... The US Copyright office has long since established this and, second, they are claiming I am using 'quotes' from the book. Look at the image in question and tell me what 'quotes' I used."

Hadley has decided not to pursue legal matters, but suggests he will reissue a retouched version of the T-shirt for his new online store—an act of resistance Orwell may well have approved of.

Image by Albert Bridge via

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