Censorship and Gun Control

A while back when I was ordering shooting targets for an art project, I found a collection of targets that police officers use in active shooter trainings. They are understandably very difficult to see as they portray images of guns pointed at children.

When I was thinking about my monthly Patreon postcard writing cause, my mind immediately went to gun control after the weekend shootings in El Paso and Dayton. Upon further consideration, I remembered these targets and thought the imagery would hopefully serve as an effective way to communicate the horrors of gun violence in our country.

This issue and these images are something our representatives need to be faced with on a daily basis until steps toward change are taken.

So, instead of illustrating the postcards like I normally do, I wanted to have them printed with these striking images. I uploaded a design and placed the order through Vistaprint the other night night. A quick and cheap turnaround of a minimum 50 postcards, just over $16 with tax and shipping.

I woke up the next morning to find a number of emails notifying me of a cancelled order, refund, and locked account. It was because my design violated Vistaprint’s terms of use and policy about images depicting violence.

I immediately got on the phone with a representative to plead my case. He was very understanding and spent the next 48 minutes advocating for my order. I shared links to my art websites, my blog, Facebook account, and Patreon. Sadly, after nearly an hour of pleading, the order remained cancelled and my account will be locked indefinitely.

I have since received a customer satisfaction survey from Vistaprint, and a customer service representative (who I assume is the person I spoke with) followed up to an email of mine and wrote “I do hope you are able to get the items printed at a local shop.”

In the end, I was able to get these postcards produced and used an online printing service called gotprint.com. I included a message to them with the order explaining the intent of the image and they confirmed they were able to process and are now printing the cards.

My patrons and I will be mailing these to every congress person who does not support gun control and reform.

It is unfortunate that a company would refuse this order after hearing detailed explanation and proof of intent. I know Vistaprint has cancelled artist orders due to content they deem inappropriate or offensive, and I think these policies that overlook nuance and human subtlety is an unfortunate aspect of censorship we too often see in today’s society.

If you would like to support my ongoing postcard writing project, you can do so through Patreon here.

I received a follow-up email from Vistaprint when I asked to see the terms and conditions that lead to the cancelation of the order. It reads:

Hi Courtney,

I hope you are having a great day so far!

I am truly sorry that we were not able to print your items for you, also, I want to apologize for the delay in responding.

I was able to locate the information for and have included an excerpt and the link to the term of use from our website.

Please see below:

Use of Site

You are granted permission to access and use this Site and its Content for the sole purpose of preparing, evaluating, and ordering products or services solely through Vistaprint (referred to herein as “Products”). No other download, retention, use, publication, or distribution of any portion of the Content is authorized or permitted. Obtaining Products from Vistaprint does not entitle you to use any portion of Content apart from the finished Products as they are supplied by Vistaprint.

You agree to use this Site in a responsible manner that is in full compliance with these Terms of Use and with your local laws and regulations, including export and import regulations. Without limitation, no portion of Content may be utilized as a trademark or service mark, for any pornographic use, for any unlawful purpose or use, to defame any person, to violate any person’s right of privacy or publicity, to infringe upon any copyright, trade name, trademark, service mark or other intellectual property right of any person or entity. You agree that you will not use the Site to produce Products that are offensive, unlawful, harassing, libelous, threatening, harmful, obscene, malicious or otherwise objectionable. Vistaprint reserves the right, in Vistaprint’s sole discretion, to refuse to accept any content provided by you to Vistaprint or to process any order at any time and for any reason. Vistaprint also may terminate its service to and/or the accounts of customers found to be using Vistaprint to engage in undesirable activities or otherwise violating these Terms of Use. You agree that Vistaprint shall have no liability of any kind to you or to any third party arising from such refusal or termination.

You are solely responsible for your use of Content in combination with any other images, graphics, text or other materials you incorporate into your Products. You agree that you will not include any text, image, design, trademark, service mark, or any copyrighted work of any third party in your Products unless you have obtained the appropriate authorizations from the owners. You warrant that your Products do not infringe upon any rights of any third party, including copyright, trademark, right of publicity or privacy, and will not libel or defame any third party, and that you have all required rights or permissions necessary to incorporate third party material into your Products. By placing an order on this Site, you warrant that you have all necessary permission, right and authority to place the order and you authorize Vistaprint to produce the Products on your behalf. You grant Vistaprint the right to copy, modify, distribute, use, create derivative works of and vectorize any content you have uploaded for the purpose of fulfilling your order and/or marketing products or services to you. Moreover, you warrant that you have sufficient rights to permit Vistaprint to copy, distribute, use, modify, create derivative works of and vectorize any uploaded content for the purpose of fulfilling your order and/or marketing products or services to you.

You agree that you are responsible for protecting your password and controlling access to your registered account. You agree that you will be responsible for all orders placed or other actions that are taken through your registered account.


I have also included the link to the terms of use page on our website:

https://www.vistaprint.com/customer-care/terms-of-use.aspx?xnav=footer&xnid=Footer_BottomLinks_TermsOfUse


I hope I was able to assist you today Courtney.
If there is anything else I can do for you today, please do not hesitate to send me an email and I will be happy to assist you.
Take care now and I hope you have an awesome day! 

Sincerely

Patricka
Customer Care Specialist

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