Ira Glass Responds to SF Weekly's Post on This American Whore Podcast

Thumbnail image for Siouxsie Q 01.jpg
Modus Vitae Media
Siouxsie Q, who runs This American Whore podcast

On Feb. 5, Exhibitionist writer Chris Hall broke a story about local podcast This American Whore, run by Siouxsie Q, who in January started to receive e-mails from lawyers representing Chicago Public Media and Ira Glass, demanding that she change the name of her podcast or face legal action. Hall postulated that the podcast was being singled out for its sex worker content. Today, Ira Glass responded to the post, in an e-mail sent by Seth Lind, director of operations at This American Life.

See Also: This American Life Tells Local Podcaster: No Whores Allowed

Ira writes:

"It's recently been reported in the press that we're asking the podcast This American Whore to change their name. There's been a suggestion that we're singling them out because of their content. We're not!

I've listened to This American Whore. I find them charming. It's an interesting podcast and a window into a world that's very different from my daily life, for sure. I'm glad they're out there making these and hope they continue.

But the way trademark law works is that we or any business with a trademarked name has to protect that name. If you don't take action when you hear about people knocking off your name, and get them to stop, you can lose your trademark rights.

Whenever we find out about any podcasts with names similar to ours, our lawyers review what action would be appropriate. Some names and shows are parodies, which are a protected class under the law. Some have audiences that are so negligible that they pose no trademark threat.

Last year, we had an issue with a podcast called This American Startup, and they eventually agreed to modify their name. In the past we've taken similar actions which didn't get press attention. There are some other shows and podcasts out there still with names similar to ours that our lawyers are planning to approach. This American Whore is not being singled out.

I wish them the best. Make more podcasts! I'll keep listening! If I lose this job and become a sex worker, I hope you'll have me on as a guest. Just change your name."

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This is exactly as I expected--  This American Life has to defend its trademark or risk losing it.

There's been a lot of reactionary and incendiary language about TAL trying to silence whores.  I hope that the people saying this will step back, reassess their positions, and recant their earlier accusations.

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