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Wal-Mart Parody Site Censored by DMCA 469

Posted by Zonk
from the always-low-opinion dept.
davidwr writes "Wal-Mart used the Digital Millenium Copyright Act to temporarily shut down a university student's parody of the Wal-Mart Foundation." The story's details are also available via BusinessWeek. From the article: "Papasian launched the Web site April 16 for an art class at Carnegie Mellon University called 'Parasitic Media.' The class teaches students about the political uses of satire in the media. He acknowledged using Wal-Mart's graphics on his Web site but said he believed he could use the images as part of a parody."
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Wal-Mart Parody Site Censored by DMCA

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  • by aphor (99965) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:32AM (#12371526) Journal

    If you alter the content, they have no claim against DMCA. MalWart != WalMart.

  • Foolish boy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by meringuoid (568297) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:32AM (#12371536)
    ... didn't he read the clause about 'if and only if you have the legal resources to make an argument about it'?

    Exceptions to copyright for parody, fair use, etc. only apply to those who have lawyers.

    • "Exceptions to copyright for parody, fair use, etc. only apply to those who have lawyers"

      Wonderful way to put it. This one will have to go in my scrap book.

      All my mods are belong to you... (Sorry I have none today)
    • Re:Foolish boy... (Score:3, Informative)

      by SatanicPuppy (611928)
      Fair use in parody only applies if you're not using their exact graphics/trademarks. If you are you're violating their copyrights, and possibly open for libel/fraud depending on what you're attributing to the company.

      I don't know why this would fall under the DMCA, other than the fact that its a website. Standard copyright/trademark law would apply.
      • Re:Foolish boy... (Score:5, Informative)

        by schon (31600) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:54AM (#12371860)
        Fair use in parody only applies if you're not using their exact graphics/trademarks.

        Bullshit. Try reading section 107 of the copyright act.

        If you are you're violating their copyrights

        Again, pure bullshit. Use of a work for parody is *NOT* a copyright violation.

        possibly open for libel/fraud depending on what you're attributing to the company

        It's not fraud unless you claim that you are the entity in question, and it's only libel if the claims are false, and only in some situations (libel is more difficult to prove against public entities.)

        Standard copyright/trademark law would apply.

        Yes, and because it's parody, it has an exception under Section 107 - so he's protected.
        • Re:Foolish boy... (Score:5, Informative)

          by nickname225 (840560) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @11:02AM (#12371971)
          I am a lawyer - althought Copyright is not my area of expertise... anyway - the standard for parody is something like - is a a reasonable person likley to confuse the parody work as the work of the original. It sounds like no reasonable person would confuse this guys work as an actual wal-mart site.. But as noted above those kinds of arguments can be expensive to prove and that protection really does only apply to those who can afford to at least get the issue in fromt of a judge and ask for dismissal or summary judgment. Waht would that cost in a case like this - figure with discovery and drafting and filing fees - maybe as much as 10,000 and up. Easy to see why this college student just folded.
          • Re:Foolish boy... (Score:2, Informative)

            by AKAImBatman (238306) *
            It sounds like no reasonable person would confuse this guys work as an actual wal-mart site.

            Go to his site and click on the Cease and Desist PDF. After looking at the screenshots they presented, I'd say Walmart has a pretty good case for unfair use of copyrighted material. Not to mention all the trademarks he appropriated in this stunt...
            • Re:Foolish boy... (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Rick the Red (307103)
              Perhaps, but what does the DMCA have to do with it? The very fact that Walmart chose to cry "DMCA violation!" tells me they know they don't have a case and are just trying (successfully) to intimidate the guy.
          • Re:Foolish boy... (Score:3, Insightful)

            by schon (31600)
            Thanks for replying, it's good to get some feedback from someone "in the field" (even if it's only tangentally related.)

            anyway - the standard for parody is something like - is a a reasonable person likley to confuse the parody work as the work of the original

            Yes, however I believe that deciding if something is a parody or not is a different issue than whether a parody is protected.

            The previous poster said that parody is not considered fair use, and that it's a violation of copyright to use someone else
          • Re:Foolish boy... (Score:5, Informative)

            by torokun (148213) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @12:47PM (#12373435) Homepage
            I'm not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice.

            I'm a law student, but I think your description may be a bit misleading. Consumer confusion is usually more relevant to the trademark issues, although it may be considered under the question of substantial similarity in the copyright infringement inquiry.

            He used walmart-foundation rather than walmartfoundation in the URL. This could easily lead to what's called initial interest confusion, where consumers are siphoned away from a legitimate site by a confusing label. This can be a basis for a claim of trademark infringement. If he had used walmart-foundation-sucks or something similar, it would avoid this problem. Also, there's a big trademark dilution law getting ready to go through, that will increase the likelihood that trademark owners can succeed in suits for 'tarnishing' or 'blurring' of their mark, e.g. by associating it with pornography.

            As for parody, the more important considerations are of fair use, such as whether the parody is criticizing or commenting on the actual work that's copied, whether the copier has taken more than what he needed in order to make the parodic point, whether the use is commercial, and the effect of the parody on the market for the works.
        • Re:Foolish boy... (Score:2, Informative)

          by SatanicPuppy (611928)
          Legal precident sez you're wrong.

          Deere & Co. v. MTD Products, Inc., 41 F.3d 39 (2d Cir. 1994).

          Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Inc. v. Pussycat Cinema, Ltd., 604 F.2d 200, 206 (2d Cir. 1979).

          Libel applies whereever you attribute something in writing to someone who does not hold that belief. It is always legally actionable.

          • Libel applies whereever you attribute something in writing to someone who does not hold that belief. It is always legally actionable.

            Check out the Flynt case, before the Supreme Court. Said libel also has to be *believable.* Hence, when Flynt published things about Falwell's mother's, ah, *taste*, it was found to be parody because no one in their right mind would believe it.

            That's kinda what parody is.

          • No it doesn't (Score:3, Informative)

            by MattW (97290)
            Deere & Co v MTD Products, Inc was a competitor modifying Deere's mark in a 'humorous' way in order to both mock and identify the competitor for commercial purposes. It was a commercial message rather than the social commentary that one generally envisions when one thinks of satirized protected marks.

            The Dallas Cowboys, Inc v Pussycat Cinema is, *again* a commercial case where "Debbie does Dallas" producers were enjoined from referring to the sports team in promotion of the film. Even trying to call th
  • by FortKnox (169099) * on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:33AM (#12371545) Homepage Journal
    This is getting way to much press. Lemmie put it to you this way:
    Walmart Foundation: www.walmartfoundation.org
    Parody Site: www.walmart-foundation.org

    Walmart is NOT bitching about this.

    He basically has a site where people probably stumble onto when they are trying to go to a legit site. Walmart's ONLY beef was that he was using their images.

    I can't tell you how we ALL have known since the web was invented that you don't steal other peoples graphics. Sure, there may be some grey area with parodies, but its the same thing we knew when we were just getting into making HTML.

    But, since this kid wants press, he starts using "CENSORED BY THE DMCA" so we'll all cry fowl.
    He rolled the dice and lost... and all it was was over the stupid graphics.

    I say, "its an art class, how about making PARODIES of the IMAGES too?"

    No extra publicity in that, though...
    • by meringuoid (568297) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:36AM (#12371591)
      I say, "its an art class, how about making PARODIES of the IMAGES too?"

      WalMart don't like his site using their graphics? Well, I'm sure some good Slashdotter will soon post a link to the image he should put up instead... I'm sure WalMart won't like their customers inadvertently staring into the Great Gaping Hole O' Horror, but hey, it's not their image, so screw 'em!

    • by Eradicator2k3 (670371) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:39AM (#12371637)
      he starts using "CENSORED BY THE DMCA" so we'll all cry fowl

      Uhmm....Chicken! Albatross! Swallow (African and European)! Emu! Canary! Oh, you meant foul.
    • Of course (Score:3, Informative)

      by PIPBoy3000 (619296)
      Of course the student would want to draw attention to this. One person's "overblown" is another person's "needed publicity."

      I'm guessing that if this went to court, it would be thrown out as this site is fairly clearly a parody site. This allows considerable freedom in copying images, ideas, logos, and so on.

      Much like the Gone with the Wind publisher battling The Wind Done Gone [freedomforum.org], it can be fairly counterproductive for large corporations to try and fight these parodies. They do nothing but draw unwan
      • I'm guessing that if this went to court, it would be thrown out as this site is fairly clearly a parody site. This allows considerable freedom in copying images, ideas, logos, and so on.

        Did you see the screenshots from the Cease and Desist letter? It's not quite the "parody" the author is making it out to be.
        • by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:53AM (#12371839)
          Well, it's not a particularly good parody perhaps. If I were doing it, I'd subtly change the images for amusement value.

          My latest favorite parody is Boring Boring [boringboring.org], a parody of Boing Boing [boingboing.net].

          How about we just give him a C+ for his school assignment and keep the lawyers out of it?
          • It's not just "not a good parody", it's crossing the line of what is acceptable. People don't seem to understand that Parody protection is not a basic right. It's an interpretation of fair use clauses that makes for very shaky ground. If you're going to parody, you need to make damn sure that you do a good job of it. Using trademarks (not fair use), registering the domain "walmart-foundation" instead of "walmartgoodworks", and creating a site that can easily be confused with the original all add up to laywe
            • If his teacher has any sense, (s)he will sit the boy down and explain the tricky legal issues involved in doing a parody, and how to do it right.

              Sure because I always seek legal advice from art school teachers. You might have found a group that knows less about the law than most Slashdot posters.
    • by schon (31600) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:41AM (#12371674)
      Walmart is NOT bitching about this.

      You're right, they're not bitching, they're having their lawyers shut the place down.

      Walmart's ONLY beef was that he was using their images.

      Which is irrelevant, as (according to Section 107 of the US Copyright act) it was fair use:
      Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified in that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

      Parody is both criticism and commentary.

      there may be some grey area with parodies

      Uh, no. There is no gray - it is very much black and white.

      he starts using "CENSORED BY THE DMCA" so we'll all cry fowl

      And rightly so. His First Amendment rights are being violated.
    • by 0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:42AM (#12371679) Journal
      Even if he did copy their graphics and logos and so on, their lawyers asked the entire site to be made offline.

      How is that fair? By all means, use the DMCA and whatever other laws to request that he remove the offending graphics. But remove the site from public access? That, too, is crossing the line.

      Also, IANAL, but aren't parodies deemed fair use?
    • You've got it backwards.

      Parody Site: www.walmart-foundation.org

      Walmart is NOT bitching about this.

      That's the part they should be bitching about because people could get mislead into thinking that it's the actual WalMart site. The URL should be changed.

      I can't tell you how we ALL have known since the web was invented that you don't steal other peoples graphics. Sure, there may be some grey area with parodies, but its the same thing we knew when we were just getting into making HTML.

      Every week Sa

    • Walmart's ONLY beef was that he was using their images.

      Which is silly. A copyright case would be DOA in court if the guy bothered to fight it. Indeed, his site could go back online immediately simply by presenting a letter to the effect that, "I, soandso at this address certify that I am making fair use of the graphics under the parody exception to copyright law. Restore the site." If the ISP refused to restore the site, they'd actually be breaking the law!

      Walmart should have gone after the trademark iss
  • by JUSTONEMORELATTE (584508) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:34AM (#12371560) Homepage
    Damn, for once the Internet Wayback Machine [archive.org] let me down -- no entries for http://www.walmart-foundation.org./ [www.walmar...dation.org]

    --
    get a free laptop [coingo.net]
  • by garcia (6573) * on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:34AM (#12371563) Homepage
    "The goal was to make the site look like it could be a real site from a company like Wal-Mart, but have text that was so ridiculous that anyone who read it would realize that it was absurd," Papasian said in a statement on his revamped Web site. "If anyone believed it to be a real Wal-Mart site, that is only a testament to the degree of absurdity that exists within corporate America today."

    Due to all the retarded behavior that our fellow citizens exhibit on a daily basis I am never surprised when I see people falling for direct parody.

    I am also not surprised that corporations are allowed to shutdown *what was likely fair use*. Sadly, someday, we will all look back on this and say, "look how free we once were. It survived 400 hits before it was taken down. They didn't even have to approve the webpage before it was posted."
    • by meringuoid (568297) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:50AM (#12371811)
      Look, don't complain about the corporations. The King, who is appointed by divine right, grants the corporations land, and in exchange they provide him with fighting men in wartime. The corporations in turn grant land to executives, who (in theory) turn out to fight when called upon. In practice, the executives then rent out the land to poor tenant farmers, the serfs, who not only actually do the fighting in wartime but also work the land, paying a portion of their income to the landlord and the Church and keeping back enough to support themselves and their family in moderate means.

      You see how the system works to everyone's benefit? Everything fits together tidily. It's called feuda^H^H^H^Hcapitalism, and it's a good thing, despite what Comrade Tyler and his gang of pinko subversives might have you believe.

      • It always amazes me how little everything changes. Hundreds of years of social "advancement" and we are still living in a quasi serfdom while the good citizens or kansas debate whether evolution is a valid scientific threory and whether the fact that god doesn't like homosexuality is grounds enough to deny people rights.

        Will we ever rise above hording goods and looking to the sky for answers?
    • I am never surprised when I see people falling for direct parody.

      As the maintainer of whitehouse.net I can speak to this. You'd be amazed how many irate letters I get about Bush's proposal to paint the whitehouse green.

      http://www.whitehouse.net/index1.html [whitehouse.net]
  • there are very clear precedents stating what is cool and what isn't.

    Making a parody is cool. Using the original artwork to create your parody isn't.

    Even when making a parody of a song, you must pay royalties on the original and you must obtain permission should you use any portion of the original mechanical.

    If you're gonna create a parody site, you simply cannot snag artwork from the original, and you certainly can't use the company's actual logo!
    • Wrong on Song (Score:4, Informative)

      by Allen Zadr (767458) * <Allen,Zadr&gmail,com> on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:43AM (#12371698) Journal
      No... if you want to commercially MARKET a parody of a song, you must pay royalties and obtain permission. If you want to simply make a parody, and give it away - there's nothing to stop that (unless you find financial gain from that parody).
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:48AM (#12371771)
      "Even when making a parody of a song, you must pay royalties on the original and you must obtain permission should you use any portion of the original mechanical."

      No. I refer you to the US copyright act section: 107 Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use, which states:

      "Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted
      work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or
      by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment,
      news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use),
      scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright."

      While it does not explicitly mention parody, that is covered under criticism, comment, or news reporting. This is why John Stewart can show clips of copyrighted works on the Daily Show and not infringe.

    • by porcupine8 (816071) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:56AM (#12371878) Journal
      Even when making a parody of a song, you must pay royalties on the original and you must obtain permission should you use any portion of the original mechanical. Coolio got all upset after Weird Al released Amish Paradise. Apparently, Al thought Coolio had given permission to parody Gangsta's Paradise, but he actually hadn't. But there wasn't really anything Coolio could do legally because it's a parody. Weird Al apologized but didn't exactly take the song off the market. He generally only does parodies if he gets permission out of respect for the artists, not because he's legally obligated to.
  • by TheNinjaroach (878876) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:36AM (#12371582)
    I thought the DMCA protected protection-schemes, not copyright law.. It's not like Walmart put copy-protection on the JPEGs. I didn't think the copyright would apply anyways, wouldn't this site be allowed fair use of the images? It's not like he's trying to compete with them.
    I still hate the DMCA..
    • by grungebox (578982) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:42AM (#12371680) Homepage
      I think it's a safe bet to include DMCA in any C&D letter. Even if it doesn't apply, it's a good legal scare tactic. Everyone's afraid of the DMCA.
    • by SiliconEntity (448450) * on Thursday April 28, 2005 @11:51AM (#12372674)
      Right, the DMCA [eff.org] is not what makes this parody site a violation of copyright (if it is). That is a standard provision of other copyright law.

      The relevant part of the DMCA [eff.org], in fact, is just the opposite. Sec 512, "Limitations on liability relating to material online" provides a means to ESCAPE liability for copyright violation. Specifically, it allows an ISP not to be held liable as long as it follows a certain procedure. The ISP has to publish an address for complaints; upon receiving a complaint from a copyright holder, it has to take down the material and notify the client who posted it; and then the client has the option to contest the takedown order, in which case the ISP has to put the material back up, absent a court order.

      This part of the DMCA is actually end-user- and ISP-friendly. Without it we would see much less support for possibly copyrighted materials appearing online.
  • by Ckwop (707653) * <Simon.Johnson@gmail.com> on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:36AM (#12371585) Homepage

    How to shoot yourself in the foot in three easy steps.

    1. Get annoyed at tiny web-site, which gets less than 400 hits a day, (Slashdot gets this traffic in 20 seconds.) which has the audacity to rubbish your brand-name.
    2. Send cease and desist letter to owner of domain and ISP.
    3. Finally, wait for the story to arrive in the main-stream where the site containing the slanderous speach is now linked to be all and sundry and the site now gets traffic upward of 20 hits a second.

    Simon.

  • by robyannetta (820243) * on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:36AM (#12371593) Homepage
    ...over this. Don't forget, parody is LEGAL:

    http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/comm/free_speech/ hustler.html [bc.edu]

  • If he hadn't leveraged any WalMart code or graphics he wouldn't have any problems. He could still do the site if he were to build a look alike from scratch. Some of the graphics he used were Wal-Mart property, and even in parody the use of their graphics would not be legally protected.
    • by bugg (65930) * on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:53AM (#12371842) Homepage
      I disgree- and in the interest of full disclosure, it's my website.

      The graphics are, granted, the hardest part to prove 'fair use' for, but there is still a fair use case to be made. That's not just my opinion, but also the opinion of the lawyers I have been in contact with.

      The graphics are not being distributed by themselves as such, rather, they are part of the website which is a larger work, and in my view, markedly different from the original. That makes it a derivative work, and as such, protected as 'fair use'.

      There is a lot of mistaken applications of other types of copyright law here. The big difference is I stand to make no financial gain, directly or indirectly, from this site. I don't owe royalties because I don't have profit. I don't need permission because it's fair use.

      • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@NosPAm.gmail.com> on Thursday April 28, 2005 @11:31AM (#12372384) Homepage Journal
        Dude, you need to check that. Despite your claims of your site being "so absurd that it must be a parody", the truth is that it is very easy to confuse with the original. You used a domain name that's nearly the same, you appropriated trademarks (which aren't protected), you used the exact same graphics, etc., etc., etc. A "parody" that's easy to confuse with the original is not protected!

        Next time do a *good* job of it as call the site "Dull-Mart" or somesuch, and use a matching domain. Also ajust all the images so that they betray the intent of the site (i.e. a parody). Every last line should say something insightful or funny that it difficult to mix up with the original. Someone else pointed to this site [boringboring.org] as an example of how it should be done.

        Good luck.
  • by bigtallmofo (695287) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:38AM (#12371608)
    It looks like WalMart imports more than just cheap goods created by virtual slave labor from China.

    Now they're further hurting our trade deficit by importing clamp-down tactics from the Chinese communist government!
  • Walmart (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Manan Shah (808049)
    I think Walmart gives an example of why 100% pure capitalism is a bad thing. Walmart tends to lower the standrd of living in many of the communities it moves in, and increases the unemployment rates. Even when their practices are perfectly legal, they tend to hurt many of the small businesses in the community. Free market, you say? Well, if 'free market' lowers the standard of living for so many people, then the concept is flawed. A lot of free market supporters use the same fervor as the socialists/c
    • "Wal-Mart fan-boy's need to calm down and analyze exactly what they are supporting."

      Cheap DVD players for me. No future for my kids.


      • "If Microsoft made toilet paper it would be called Butt Wiper." Brian Briggs

        If Microsoft made toilet paper it would be called Microsoft Wipe. Microsoft would then consider that other uses of the word wipe were possibly infringing on their trademark.
    • Re:Walmart (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 241comp (535228) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:58AM (#12371915) Homepage
      To be honest, it's NOT WalMart that causes this (if it even really happens). It is the customers who do it to themselves. If we are all so price-conscious (read: cheap) that we shut down all the local shops in our home town... let's just say that we reap what we sow. The tragedy of the commons and all that jazz.
      • by SwedishChef (69313) <craig.networkessentials@net> on Thursday April 28, 2005 @11:18AM (#12372189) Homepage Journal
        Yes, people shop at Wal-Mart because of low prices but the reason they have to shop low prices is that their wages have gone down (in real terms) over the past 30 years.

        As an example, my wife graduated from HS in 1974 and her first job was at paper plant. The job was union and paid $7 per hour and worked 40 hours a week. This, mind you, for a HS grad with no college and no special skills in a small city north of Seattle. By the time she left that job (in 1980) she was making over $10 per hour and getting full medical.

        Then wages went into the toilet. Now kids are lucky to get a $7 job (at Wal-Mart) and work 20-hours a week.

        In 1974 you could buy a house ($35,000 for a 3br/2ba home in the Seattle area) with a $7/hour job. In 2005 houses there average $250,000. Try buying one of those right out of HS.

        So ya... people shop for cheap prices but only because we don't have much of a choice any more.

        • Your post hits the primary problem our nation has, inflation.

          It is so sad that people in this country do not realize they are being ripped off. Under our current economic system, inflation screws the poor and middle classes. It is essentially a RECURRING tax on savings.

          For example [frb.fed.us]: try putting in the 7.00 per hour wage from 1974, then compare it to today.

          $7.00 per hour in 1974 would be roughly equivalent to making $27.00 per hour today.

          But it gets worse. Any money you try to save, is also worth less o
  • WalMart can't nail him for being critical of their company (one of many who are it should be noted), so they use the DMCA to get him. All the really have done is increase his visiblity. I've sent his URL and the /. link to at least ten people since this was posted on /. and I am certian that others will forward my e-amil as well. I suspect others will do the same. Now he's got the attention a a much bigger audience.

    Perhaps they should have left him alone. Then this wouldn't be an issue to them.
  • by digitaldc (879047) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:41AM (#12371662)
    "Literature should not be suppressed merely because it offends the moral code of the censor." ~ William Orville Douglas (1898-1980) US Supreme Court associate justice, 1935-75, professor of law at Yale
    "Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that nobody can read." ~ George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright & novelist
    "The Internet treats censorship as a malfunction and routes around it." ~ John Perry Barlow (1947-) Wyoming cattle rancher, a lyricist for the Grateful Dead
    "I believe in censorship. After all, I made a fortune out of it." ~ Mae West (1892-1980) American comedienne from "My Little Chickadee," 1940.
    "Censorship is almost systematically the weapon of first resort for governments in uncertain political situations. So not only are the famous writers and bold journalists in danger; at every level of public and private life, the freedoms to think, read or write are denied. In the absence of a free press, other human rights abuses flourish unabated. Nothing is reported, criticized, questioned. The example of imprisonment, torture or execution imposes a further silence. A blindly obedient mob mentality is encouraged, driven by extremist religious or ethnic loyalties. The citizens do not know what is happening. Fear and ignorance permeate discussion." ~ Marian Botsford Fraser
    "Censor: A self-appointed snoophound who sticks his nose in other people's business." ~ Bennett Cerf
    [quotes from zaadz.com]
  • No Credibility (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ImTwoSlick (723185)
    If anyone believed it to be a real Wal-Mart site, that is only a testament to the degree of absurdity that exists within corporate America today.

    This guy lost all credibility with this one statement. What does the ability of someone to mistake this site for a real one have anything to do with absurdity within corporate America? This guy is just spouting off rhetoric. Plain and simple.

    • What does someone mistaking it for a real site have to do with the level of corporate America's absurdity?

      Clearly he means that the lengths to which companies like Wal-Mart will go to spin something as positive for themselves would be comic parody if we lived in a sane society.

      Fortunately for all corporate behemoths, most Americans have been fashioned by TV into such brainwashed intellectual sloths that they'll believe practically anything.

      Therefore, if anyone believed it to be a real Wal-Mart site, it i
    • Well, you could argue that if average people believe that a large corporation would post pictures of a protest against themselves and claim that it's building community spirit, then they must believe it because corporations do idiotic things like that regularly, so it doesn't seem strange.

      Me, I'm more likely to think they believe it because average people are idiots.

  • Using the law in unintended ways is nothing new. Although nothing has been done about this yet, I suspect that anti-phishing legislation could also be used by a corporation to shut down parody sites. Depending on how the law is worded (misworded), it could become a crime to make a site the "looks like another site."

    Although the courts may, eventually, rule in favor of the parody site, the legal costs to defend the site mean victory for those who would resort to barritry.
  • by Ktistec Machine (159201) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:45AM (#12371726)
    From the article: "An interesting aspect of the cease and desist is that it was signed by a lawyer who wrote that she was acting on behalf of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. This statement unintentionally emphasizes one of the main points that my parody was trying to prove all along: The Wal-Mart "Foundation" is nothing more than a front group for Wal-Mart Stores Incorporated, and should not be confused for a real charitable non-profit."
  • by Le Marteau (206396) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:45AM (#12371731) Journal
    ... always makes me feel cheap and sleazy. Like it's something I shouldn't be doing. One of the many reasons I like shopping at Wal Mart.
  • by crovira (10242) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @11:11AM (#12372100) Homepage
    The use of the DMCA in ANY expression of free speech is so bogus that attempting to use the courts for such purposes should result in the automatic suspension of the laywer's licence.

    The DMCA was NOT designed for the purpose of stifling free speech. (We have libel laws and slander laws for that. :-)

    Some humourless lawyer would argue that his client is afforded every protection of the law. I would argue that the DMCA is NOT a protection under the law.

    The case is like arguing that you can ONLY have ONE of anything. Reproduction of anything at anytime for any purpose would be outlawed.
  • D-M-C-A... just watch out for the D-M-C-A [whichwayup.org]

    Young man, young man, are you listening to me?
    Young man, young man, even this parody is illegal.
  • by Simonetta (207550) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @12:36PM (#12373294)
    When a huge corporation promotes itself as having a 'cleaner-than-thou' image, and then muscles down on someone who mocks this image in a tiny inperceptable forum, they often will generate a backlash in the media; the alternative media if not the major outlets.

    Then the parody gets recognized far wider than it would have from its initial presentation. This brings recognition to the parodist and simulates discussion on the practices of the corporation and the contrasts between its business practices and its manufactured image. Smart business execs usually know this and will work to avoid publicity amplification. Walmart execs tend to be more mean than savvy.

    Perhaps the clearest example of this publicity effect is the Disneyland Orgy [illegal-art.org] which would have disappeared as an urban legend if clueless Disney execs had not have gone batshit when it appeared and mounted a huge effort to destroy it. As you can see, it lives now on the web forever. It still is pretty funny.
  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @02:10PM (#12374468)
    This is yet another example of the DMCA being abused to silence legitimate free speech. If any more evidence was needed concerning the unintended consequences of this legislation then surely this most recent incident fits the bill. The DMCA has utterly failed in its intended effects, prevention of wholesale copyright infringement in the digital age, and it has manifested many negative side effects. The copyright infringement which is currently taking place on the file sharing networks is nothing that could not be prosecuted under pre-DMCA copyright law and any notion that hackers in Russia, China, and elsewhere give a damn about what US laws say about circumvention devices, or anything else for that matter, is living in la-la-land. Meanwhile the DMCA has been used to muzzle free expression, stifle innovation, intimidate researchers, negate fair use, impede competition, and browbeat technology companies. The DMCA has done nothing to advance the progress of useful arts and sciences in this country while causing tremendous collateral damage to free speech. The other problem with laws such as the DMCA, which is rarely mentioned, is that unjust, poorly written, and unfair laws breed contempt, even among otherwise law abiding citizens, for all laws and that is dangerous because it strikes against the barrier that separates civilized society from utter chaos and anarchy. One can only hope that the DMCA will eventually be struck down by the Supreme Court, but until that day most people will continue to ignore the unjust provisions of this legislation in the same way that they ignored prohibition and every other law which makes criminals out of honest and hard-working everyday Americans.

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