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D is for Dick: Capriotti's Gave Mag Free Publicity and Got Threatened with Legal Action

Back in late February, SideDish, the food blog over at D, carried the news that a sandwich shop called Capriotti's was going to revamp an old gas station downtown and subsequently expand to 50 other locations around DFW.

"Has anybody eaten here before? Is it any good?" the post asked. We had, and were fine with the place. Reviews by SideDish commenters were slanted significantly positive, too. After the post, the restaurant, as restaurants do, came down and gave the folks at the magazine free sandwiches, fueling another post giving fairly glowing reviews of the place.

Apparently Capriotti's really liked the coverage SideDish had given its goods. The restaurant ordered a gigantic banner telling the Cougs of Plano, "Hey, this great food blog thinks our sandwiches are pretty good you should read it while you eat one while reading this blog!"

Seems like a pretty nice endorsement to me. But not to the folks at D, who immediately took to the blog to make vague and entirely lame legal threats, shaming the restaurant's owner into taking down the sign and apologizing -- apologizing! -- for giving the magazine free publicity.

From the blog post:

Anyways, you should enjoy the sign while it lasts, Capriotti's. I think our lawyers will be contacting you guys soon since ya'll are breaking a couple of copyright laws and all. But before you throw that banner away, I have this one request: Send me your sign. I'd really like to hang it outside my house. That way, should I ever get lost in space, I'll know how to return home.

From owner Phil Jackson, in the comments:

Carol: I'm the one responsible for this snafu, so I'll take full responsibility for the screw up. It wasn't our intention to offend. We were obviously proud and enthusiastic about the previous post you made, and got ahead of ourselves. Capriotti's is well known on the coasts, but new to Texas, so we wanted to publicize the quality of our product. But clearly we didn't think it through. So again, your criticism is appropriate, and the sign has been removed. By the way, the article in the window has all the comments, including the one about "Mayo overkill on all accounts. My sandwich is dripping like a snot-nosed toddler." So I'm not sure where you folks got the idea that we selectively edited what you said. In any event the banner is down. Sorry again for the fuss.

It's strange, when you think about it: D's logo-of-approval is in the window of more or less every restaurant from here to Oklahoma. But when someone wants to chip in their own dime to promote the mag, that's when shit gets legal.

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Besides: If the restaurant did violate some copyright law (which seems unlikely), wouldn't that be easily remedied with a discreet email as opposed to a cease-and-desist blog post? I haven't been to Capriotti's since my ancient write-up, so I don't know if they put out a vinyl marquee saying "City of Ate says our sandwiches 'incite codependency'." But for all I care they could have photoshopped my face onto Michaelangelo's "Creation of Adam" and had the God of Sandwiches handing me a hoagie, as long as they didn't shortchange me on the frontspiece.

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