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Whazzup? AP tries to kick popular Elian animation off the Internet

The Flash animation uses this famous photo, taken by an Associated Press photographer.  

April 27, 2000
Web posted at: 4:33 PM EDT (2033 GMT)

(CNN) -- An animated parody of the Budweiser "Whazzup?" commercial using the principal parties of the Elian Gonzalez saga has disappeared from the Internet due to legal threats from The Associated Press.

Elian, along with Fidel Castro, Janet Reno, Gonzalez family and friends and a camouflaged federal agent lip synch the lines from the popular Budweiser television ad in a flash animation, posted days ago on sixsite.com and other Web sites.

But the creator of "Stormtrooper True" used AP photos for the animation, including the now famous image of an armed agent confronting Elian and the fisherman who rescued the boy, drawing the ire of The Associated Press, whose photographer took the photo.

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Viewers going to a Geocities site that posted the satire saw an unexpected sequel instead Thursday afternoon: a cease-and-desist warning from The Associated Press.

"We've already written the Geocities copyright agent about your unauthorized defacing and display of AP pictures on your site there," AP representative David Tomlin wrote.

"You are exposing yourself to liability for copyright infringement that can include both fines and possible criminal penalties. We'll go for whatever it takes to get our material out of your hands. Please acknowledge immediately that you understand and are taking down the display of AP pictures at the address above."

"Stormtrooper True" was taken down, but not before logging well over 800,000 hits and showing up at several other sites, as well as being passed around through e-mail. Tomlin's warning gives the URL of a second location that has also been taken down.

Regarding possible copyright infringements, Yahoo, which owns Geocities, reserves the right to terminate the accounts of users who violate intellectual property rights.

Tomlin could not be reached for comment. But Sean Bonner, who said sixsite.com is his site, suspects "tons" of other sites have posted "Stormtrooper True" since he first did Tuesday afternoon.

Bonner, who said he created the animation with Chris Lathrop "in a half hour or so," said he would include links at his site to other Web addresses that still have "Stormtrooper True" posted.



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