Wednesday, May 20, 2009

EFF provides a guide for "parody" websites mocking brands

Corynne McSherry of Electronic Frontier Foundation has an important PDF whitepaper guideline for webmasters who develop parody sites to protest the activities of specific companies. The paper is called “Avoiding Gripes about your Gripe (or Parody) Site”, dated May 2009, with this link.

The basic scenario is that somebody creates a parody of “CompanyXYZ” (maybe something like “CompanyXYZs__ks”), registers a domain name, and two weeks later finds that the ISP has shut it down after an intellectual property complaint, which is likely to be trademark dilution.

McSherry goes on to discuss “nominative fair use,” and the process of determining judicially whether the speech value of the site outweighs prospective claims of consumer confusion as to brand.

One big plus is to keep the site totally non-commercial – with no ads. Another is to use an ISP with some backbone and resources.

She also goes on to discuss copyright and DMCA safe harbor issues.

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