SAUK RAPIDS, Minn. — Federal authorities have dropped an attempt to stop a Minnesota man from marketing merchandise poking fun at the National Security Agency for its surveillance of citizens, including T-shirts bearing the NSA's official seal and the slogan, "The only part of the government that actually listens."
"It's a victory for First Amendment rights," said Dan McCall, of Sauk Rapids, who operates LibertyManiacs.com. He sued the NSA and Department of Homeland Security last fall after they issued cease-and-desist orders.
The settlement was filed in federal court in Maryland on Tuesday. The NSA agreed to acknowledge that McCall's designs were intended as parody, and the NSA and DHS both agreed to formally retract their claims that his merchandise violated federal law. The government also agreed to pay him $500 in court costs. McCall agreed in return to drop his lawsuit, the St. Cloud Times reported Wednesday (http://on.sctimes.com/1bluAwJ ).
"I think this case showed the hush that can happen on the Web when people attempt to satire or write stuff," McCall said. "People are reluctant to do satire or parodies and criticize these agencies when something like this hangs over you. I got a ton of letters from other artists saying, 'I want to wait and see how this turns out for you before I do anything.'"