McMansion Hell (previously at BB) was a hilarious, incisive and explosively popular blog detailing and mocking America's dreadful suburban architecture. Zillow is a real estate site that exists to profit from it. Zillow used a grossly bogus legal threat to get McMansion Hell shut down, and everyone within sniffing distance of the law or media freedom is mad.
Zillow claims that McMansion Hell was 'violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and state laws prohibiting "interference with Zillow's business expectations and interests"', a claim augmented by a curious theory of copyright whereby Zillow has "particular rights" to images it doesn't own.
...The cease and desist letter was not a response to the type of content or commentary that [Kate] Wagner was offering, she said. Heffter went on to explain that Zillow does not own the photos it posts on its site and is not legally allowed to let others use them.
Zillow's not even the copyright proprietor of the images it claims to "enforce", but even if it was, a "fair use" defense would surely prevail. McMansion Hell literally obscures the images with editorial commentary!
The threat appears to be retaliation following Wagner's featuring in a Washington Post story that turned a sharp eye on the trend back to cheaply-constructed houses slathered in subprime financing, counterposing her criticism against a battery of smarmily self-promotional quotes from Zillow spokespeople.
Legal experts are not impressed.
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"Zillow's suggestion that it's a CFAA violation to take pictures from their public website is very weak," Orin Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University, said in an email.
In response to students violently protesting hate speech on campus, the Orange Menace once again took to twitter and threatened to de-fund the University of California.
Such threats bolster California's nascent efforts to cease paying Federal tax, or just plain leave the Union to rot. Yanking Federal funds for education is certainly not going to win anyone any friends. Read the rest
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump boasted of groping women. This opened the gates, and women came forward with claims of Trump groping them. The New York Times reported their allegations. Trump threatened to sue the Times. Times lawyer David E. McCraw responds:
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Dear Mr. Kasowitz:
I write in response to your letter of October 12, 2016 to Dean Baquet concerning your client Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for President of the United States. You write concerning our article “Two Women Say Donald Trump Touched Them Inappropriately” and label the article as “libel per se.” You ask that we “remove it from [our] website, and issue a full and immediate retraction and apology.” We decline to do so.
The essence of a libel claim, of course, is the protection of one’s reputation. Mr. Trump has bragged about this non-consensual sexual touching of women. He has bragged about intruding on beauty pageant contestants in their dressing rooms. He acquiesced to a radio host’s request to discuss Mr. Trump’s own daughter as a “piece of ass.” Multiple women not mentioned in our article have publicly come forward to report on Mr. Trump’s unwanted advances. Nothing in our article has had the slights effect on the reputation that Mr. Trump, through his own words and actions, has already created for himself.
But there is a larger and much more important point here. The women quoted in our story spoke out on an issue of national importance – indeed, as an issue that Mr.
Adrienne Lafrance reports on largely futile efforts to make the Internet "safe for women". It's not just that law enforcement doesn't take it seriously, even after "real world" consequences such as swatting, violence and bomb threats. They're so ignorant of the Internet they don't even know what they're looking at when you show it to them. Even when you're a member of congress... Read the rest
Yesterday, Esquire published this satirical column by @ProfJeffJarvis, a Fake Steve-style parody of journalism professor and media visionary Jeff Jarvis. The real Jarvis did what any self-respecting open-culture advocate would: he issued a vague legal threat and got it removed, thereby ensuring that something humorless and obscure was read by a far larger audience than it deserved.
If you think a journalism professor could be more thick-skinned and less eager to abuse the norms that protect his trade, you would not be alone. In his response to the imbroglio Jarvis writes that "They are not free — and it most certainly is not responsible journalism — to try to fool the audience about the source of content and to impugn the reputation of a professional along the way."
Alas, he is mistaken. Popehat's Ken White writes that satire does not require that it be identified as such.
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Bradbury's Esquire satire is very clearly protected by the First Amendment. I wrote about a case frighteningly on point. Esquire previously did a satirical article with mock quotes from Joseph Farah of WorldNet Daily and author Jerome Corsi. They sued, claiming defamation. The United States Court of Appeal for the D.C. Circuit crushed their arguments. Remember: only things that could reasonably be understood as provably false statements of fact can be defamatory. Satire is not a statement of fact. In deciding whether something could reasonably be taken as an assertion of fact rather than satire, courts look to what an audience familiar with the publication and players would understand.
Donald Trump, though leading in delegates and votes in the Republican presidential candidate race, doesn't like the "delegate math" that could let Ted Cruz (or someone else) take the nomination at the party's convention this summer.
Trump criticized the delegate selection process as undemocratic and said the RNC will face a “rough July” if he’s denied the nomination.
“I hope it doesn’t involve violence. I hope it doesn’t. I’m not suggesting that,” Trump told reporters Sunday in Staten Island. “I hope it doesn’t involve violence, and I don’t think it will. But I will say this, it’s a rigged system, it’s a crooked system. It’s 100 percent corrupt.”
Reince Priebus, the chairman of the National Republican Committee, has told his colleagues not to consider making changes to the rules that govern the convention's nomination process. Read the rest
[While I'm away for a week, I'm posting classic Boing Boing entries from the archives. Here's a gem from 2006.]
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I forgot all about this funny, profanity-infested voice mail that a gentleman left for me a few months back. He was upset that I linked to a how-to piece written by Deke McClelland about scanning currency in Photoshop, which has certain features that prevent you from scanning and printing US currency.
I recently completed an illustration for MAKE Vol 7 that required an image of a dollar bill (shown here; click here for enlargement). Ironically, the purpose of the illustration was to show people how to detect counterfeit money, not how to make counterfeit money. I wonder if this will assuage the concerns expressed by the caller?
I had no problem using Photoshop to scan the dollar bill and paste it into Adobe Illustrator, but I'm glad Deke figured out a workaround to help other illustrators who use currency in their art and photography.
Here, for your enjoyment, is the voice mail. The gentleman's language is colorful, so be careful listening to it at work:
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When Mark Tilbrook politely and peacefully distributed leaflets at venues where "psychic" Sally Morgan was performing, her son and husband threatened to beat him up (and even to have him murdered), uttered homophobic and racist slurs, and, eventually, served him with a legal threat.
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In this fake letter produced by Steve Cox for this very funny Films That Almost Got Made That Time Forgot piece, Stanley Kubrick writes to James T. Aubrey, Jr, an amateur Desi Arnez Jr impersonator who was also head of MGM studios. Steve has Kubrick acknowledge that Aubrey is legally in a position to make a sequel to 2001, but has a dire warning for him. It's a pity it's not real -- I want to inhabit the continuum in which it is genuine.
(via Warren Ellis)
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Benjamin Mako Hill writes, "Last year, I participated in a discussion on Wikipedia that led to the deletion of an article about the "Institute for Cultural Diplomacy."
Because I edit Wikipedia using my real name, the ICD was able to track me down. Over the last month or so, they threated me with legal action and have now gotten their lawyers involved. I've documented the whole sad saga on my blog. I think the issue raises some important concerns about Wikipedia in general."
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Donfried has made it very clear that his organization really wants a Wikipedia article and that they believe they are being damaged without one. But the fact that he wants one doesn’t mean that Wikipedia’s policies mean he should have one. Anonymous editors in Berlin and in unknown locations have made it clear that they really want a Wikipedia article about the ICD that does not include criticism. Not only do Wikipedia’s policies and principles not guarantee them this, Wikipedia might be hurt as a project when this happens.
The ICD claims to want to foster open dialogue and criticism. I think they sound like a pretty nice group working toward issues I care about personally. I wish them success.
But there seems to be a disconnect between their goals and the actions of both their leader and proponents. Because I used my real name and was skeptical about the organization on discussion pages on Wikipedia, I was tracked down and threatened. Donfried insinuated that I was motivated to “sabotage” his organization and threatened legal action if I do not answer his questions.
hh1edits's "The 100 Greatest Movie Threats of All Time" is a truly fabulous 11:37 worth of threatening behavior -- angry, calm, brave, terrified. The creator casts an admirably broad net, including appearances from Monty Python, Wil Wheaton, and the Wicked Witch of the West.
The 100 Greatest Movie Threats of All Time
(Thanks, Fipi Lele!)
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Chick Lit Girls, which publishes positive reviews for money, is threatening legal action against a writer who publicized that fact earlier this week.
Describing itself as "basically goodreads[sic] for women", Chick Lit Girls has the stated mission of not publishing negative reviews. To quote, "we're here to help authors, not destroy them!"
When author Michele Gorman offered her latest novel for review, however, they first requested a $95 fee, then accused her of "harrassing[sic]" them when she criticized the practice on Twitter and at her blog.
We have the ability to track IP addresses, so I would think twice before you begin to defame our name…That is illegal, and we will take action. Our attorney has been notified!
After Chick Lit Girls pointed out that they do disclose the fee—albeit in the fine print—Gorman removed remarks that suggested otherwise. Gorman also removed named references to "Chick Lit Girls" from her site, but did not remove her criticism of paid reviews.
At Popehat, Ken White describes the "barely-literate" threats as bumptious and doomed to failure:
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People who issue thuggish legal threats to those who criticize them ... can't be trusted, should not receive your business or traffic, and deserve no respect. Ms. Gorman made a mistake — sort of, given ChickLitGirls' rather vague dislosure — which she corrected. But it's clear from the title, text, and follow-up to the ChickLitGirls' threat that what they are really attempting to do is chill and deter criticism of their business model. That's why they describe criticism as "harassment" and "threats." That's contemptible.