Bogus Copyright Infringement Claims Violate Law
San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) warned ABC, Inc. Thursday not to pursue its bogus copyright infringement claims against 'Spocko' -- a blogger who sparked nationwide debate over a San Francisco radio station -- and asked the media giant to retract its baseless threats.
The free speech battle began when Spocko posted audio clips of what he deemed to be offensive talk-radio rhetoric from ABC-owned and San Francisco-based KSFO-AM on his blog at www.spockosbrain.com. In response, ABC, Inc. sent a threatening letter to the blogger's hosting company, claiming that copyright law prevented Spocko from posting the clips. The hosting company responded by shutting Spocko's website down, forcing him to move to a different provider. In a letter sent to ABC, Inc. Thursday, EFF warned that further false copyright claims could compel Spocko to take action to protect his free speech rights.
"Copyright law is not designed to silence speech that you dislike," said EFF Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "ABC and KSFO know that their legal threats were absolutely groundless. Their time and efforts are better spent explaining why they think Spocko is wrong, and letting the public decide, instead of resorting to thuggish legal tactics."
EFF's letter to ABC is the latest development in its ongoing campaign to protect online free speech from the chilling effects of bogus copyright claims. In November, EFF reached an agreement with the corporate owners of the popular children's television character Barney the Purple Dinosaur to withdraw meritless legal threats against a website publisher who parodied the character.
For the full letter to ABC:
For more on Spocko:
more from the NYTimes [Select]:
Bloggers Take On Talk Radio Hosts
By NOAM COHEN
Published: January 15, 2007
A San Francisco talk radio station pre-empted three hours of programming on Friday in response to a campaign by bloggers who have recorded extreme comments by several hosts and passed on digital copies to advertisers.
The lead blogger, who uses the name Spocko, said that he and other bloggers had contacted more than 30 advertisers on KSFO-AM to inform them of comments made on the air and to ask them to pull their ads.
The comments were also posted on Spocko's Web site, spockosbrain.com. In response, ABC Radio Networks, which owns KSFO and which in turn is owned by the Walt Disney Company, sent letters to the site's service provider, demanding the clips be taken down from its servers. The provider complied, raising the issue of what constitutes fair use of copyrighted material by a critic.
In an unusual cap to a simmering controversy, four talk radio hosts at KSFO-AM themselves played the clips on Friday, which had, in some cases, drawn national attention for language considered racially insensitive, religiously intolerant or containing violent imagery. The broadcast contained the occasional carefully measured apology for language that ''could have been put more elegantly,'' as one host, Melanie Morgan, described her comment -- ''We've got a bull's eye painted on her big wide laughing eyes'' -- about Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, who is from San Francisco. ''But Ms. Morgan added that her words were obviously a political metaphor that had to be distorted by critics to appear violent. [...]