November 6, 2009

from the nice-try dept Via

Back in September, we wrote about Glenn Beck's misguided attempt to gain control over the domain name used as part of an internet meme that is critical of Glenn Beck, (it's a dead site now, keep reading). If you're unfamiliar with the meme, it's mocking a favorite tactic of various cable news talk show hosts, to "ask questions" that are accusatory in nature, whether or not there's any substance to back them up. Glenn Beck didn't accuse the site of defamation or anything, but filed a domain name complaint, saying that it violated his trademark. As we noted at the time, the trademark claim was really questionable -- and, of course, only served to draw more attention to the site and the internet meme. 

The site brought on lawyer Marc Randazza who filed one of the most brilliant responses(pdf) to a legal threat that you'll ever see. It's quite amusing. Randazza takes the old "moron in a hurry" test up one level, using the "abject imbecile" test. And then there was this:
We are not here because the domain name could cause confusion. We do not have a declaration from the president of the international association of imbeciles that his members are blankly staring at the Respondent's website wondering "where did all the race baiting content go?" We are here because Mr. Beck wants Respondent's website shut down. He wants it shut down because Respondent's website makes a poignant and accurate satirical critique of Mr. Beck by parodying Beck's very rhetorical style. Beck's skin is too thin to take the criticism, so he wants the site down.
Apparently, Randazza's letter worked wonders. The WIPO Arbitration Panel has rejected the attempt to take the domain, saying that it was a legitimate use of Beck's name:
In the present context, this Panel considers that if Internet users view the disputed domain name in combination with a visit to Respondent's website, the "total effect" is that of political commentary by Respondent, capable of protection as political speech by the First Amendment under the Hustler Magazine standard. Respondent appears to the Panel to be engaged in a parody of the style or methodology that Respondent appears genuinely to believe is employed by Complainant in the provision of political commentary, and for that reason Respondent can be said to be making a political statement. This constitutes a legitimate non-commercial use of Complainant's mark under the Policy.
Either way, now that the site's owner has prevailed, he apparently feels he has made his point, and has agreed to voluntarily hand over the domain (pdf), along with an explanation in the First Amendment and how not to respond to internet memes:
It bears observing that by bringing the WIPO complaint, you took what was merely one small critique meme, in a sea of internet memes, and turned it into a super-meme. Then, in pressing forward (by not withdrawing the complaint and instead filing additional briefs), you turned the super-meme into an object lesson in First Amendment principles.

It also bears noting, in this matter and for the future, that you are entirely in control of whether or not you are the subject of this particular kind of criticism. I chose to criticize you using the well-tested method of satire because of its effectiveness. But, humor aside, your rhetorical style is no laughing matter. In this context of this WIPO case, you denigrated the letter of First Amendment law. In the context of your television show and your notoriety, you routinely and shamelessly denigrate the spirit of the First Amendment....

Although the site is Dead as mentioned above, it is still available through the magic of Google Cache: So here's a link:

And here's a link to the comments section back at TechDirt and a BIG thank you to them for being so cool!

I just read this and was really surprised that Bradley's Estate would have the courts file against his former band mates & friends.