Australia

Paving Hell: ACTA Encourages Oppression from Friend and Foe Alike

The drafting of the Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA) isn’t going so well.

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Szukalski v. Frey

Threat Type: 

Correspondence

Date: 

01/09/2010

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Patrick Frey

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Legal Counsel: 

Pro Se

Publication Medium: 

Blog

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

Ted Szukalski, an Australian photographer, sent blogger Patrick Frey of Patterico's Pontifications what purported to be a DMCA takedown notice on January 9, 2010.  The takedown notice complained about Frey's blog post that reproduced and commented on a photoshopped image showing President Obama shining Sarah Palin's shoes. 

The image in question is a photshopped version of Szukalski's photograph of a homeless man shining the shoes of a seated woman (see the non-modified version titled Shoeshine - homeless and a woman client MG_6348-27).  The modified version does away with Szukalski's copyright notice and replaces the heads of the shoe shiner and woman with those of President Obama and Sarah Palin, respectively.

The photoshopped image caused a small stir in early January 2010 when a Colorado Department of Transportation worker faced discipline for forwarding the image.  Frey's post took issue with another blogger's description of the incident as an "ugly little upwelling of racism from the right wing base," pointing out that the woman who forwarded the email was a registered Democrat.

Frey responded in an email refusing to take down the image and asserting that his use of the photograph for political commentary was a classic example of fair use.  As of the date of this writing, Szukalski had taken no further action. 

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Subject Area: 

International Olympic Committee v. Giles

Date: 

10/06/2009

Threat Type: 

Correspondence

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Richard Giles

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Legal Counsel: 

Pro Se

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Description: 

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) sent an email to a Flickr user Richard Giles  asking him to cease and desist from distributing and/or licensing photographs of the 2008 Beijing Olympic events that he had photographed while at the games and posted on Flickr.

Giles originally put the photographs online under a CC Attribution-Share Alike License (CC BY-SA), but then relicensed them under a CC Attribution-No-Derivatives License (CC BY-ND) upon the request of a Wikipedia user, so that they could be used in a Wikimedia project. Later on, a British bookstore used one of Giles' pictures for promoting a book. When this came to IOC's attention, they sent the cease and desist letter to Giles. 

IOC invoked contractual limitations found on the back of tickets:

As you know, when entering any Olympic venue, you are subject to the terms and conditions mentioned on the back of entry tickets, under which images of the Games taken by you may not be used for any purpose other than private, which does not include licensing of the pictures to third parties.

The letter also suggested a trademark-oriented claim:

Olympic identifications such as the Olympic rings, the emblems and mascots of the Olympic games, the word 'Olympic' and images of the Olympic games belong to the IOC and cannot be used without its prior written consent.

Giles reports that it was not clear to him what exactly the IOC wanted him to do, so a chain of mutual emails followed, in which IOC clarified its position that the only acceptable copyright notice for pictures from Olympic events would be "all rights reserved." In an effort to keep the CC licensing regime, Giles counter-suggested licensing the pictures under a noncommercial CC license, but IOC declined:

IOC's current policy is to restrict the use of pictures taken at the venues to private, domestic and non-commercial use and does not allow licensing of pictures to third parties, even for free non-commercial use, for the reasons I explained in my previous email.

Therefore, for the time being the IOC considers full copyright as the only suitable credit and asks that you change the license of the photos taken inside of the Olympic venues to 'all rights reserved'.

Throughout the course of these events Giles was in touch with the Electronic Frontiers Australia, a nonprofit organisation supporting online freedoms and rights,  and Creative Commons Australia, both of which advised him that as a first step he should comply with the IOC's demand. Eventually Giles reverted all pictures to full copyright protection, adding a note under every picture: "The license on this photo has been changed from Creative Commons to Copyright [sic] due to a request from the IOC."

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Priority: 

1-High

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Australia's Facebook Five and the Right to Whinge About Your Boss Online

It's hard to be a prison guard in Australia, and not just because the entire country is a penal colony — zing!  Apparently you run the risk of being fired for griping about your job in a private Facebook group, even if other corrections officers are the only ones reading your complaint.  Such is the threat looming over those officers whom the Australian press has dubbed

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Content Type: 

Williams v. Advertising Sex, LLC

Date: 

03/18/2005

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Advertising Sex, LLC; Raymond Williams; Palmbeach-Online.Com, Inc.; Kenneth M. Boyd; Steve Bryant ; G.A.M.E.; Nicholas Cain; Cain Web Design, Inc.; Charlie Hintz; Mental Shed, LLC; Chris Hartmann; XOTECK, LLC; VIDBIDNESS, INC.; Eric Ridley; Performan

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia

Case Number: 

1:05CV51

Legal Counsel: 

Robert R. Waters (for Vitigliano and Xoteck, LLC); John W. Dozier (for Chris Hartmann & Xoteck); Stephen P. Goodwin, Alexander D. Pencu, Joseph L. Clasen, William J. Kelleher, III & Raymond S Franks, II (for Castle Co. Pty Ltd, The Moles Trust, Russe

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Dismissed (partial)

Description: 

Former Miss West Virginia, Allison Williams, filed a lawsuit against approximately sixty defendants, including Joseph Vitagliano, who operates Taxi Driver, a website that focuses on celebrity gossip and regularly features nude or semi-nude photographs of female celebrities. Williams alleges that Vitagliano defamed her by posting an advertisement on his website that falsely indicated that she, as Miss West Virginia, participated in a pornographic video that was available for download. 

Williams' complaint alleges defamation, false light invasion of privacy, misappropriation of name and likeness, and violation of the right of publicity. Williams seeks permanent injunctive relief.

According to filings in the case, Vitigliano's website contained advertisments for pornographic websites, including an advertisement for a site that allegedly offered to sell a pornographic video described as depicting "Allison Williams, Miss West Virginia."  Williams avers that she never appeared in the sex tape advertised on Taxi Driver, and has never appeared in any other pornographic video.

On August 31, 2007, the Court held that it lacked personal jurisdiction over Vitigliano because he had not purposefully availed himself of contacts in West Virginia.  The suit continues as to a number of the other defendants.

The case is also noteworthy because the court allowed plaintiff to serve litigation documents on one of the foreign defendants by email (see Internet Cases blog on this).

Jurisdiction: 

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Content Type: 

2clix v. Wright

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

08/17/2007

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Simon Wright

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Supreme Court of Queensland (Australia)

Case Number: 

7/79/09

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Withdrawn

Description: 

In August 2007, 2Clix Australia sued Simon Wright, the founder of Australian broadband discussion forum Whirlpool, for alleged "injurious falsehood." According to 2Clix, Wright permitted anonymous users of the forum to post unmediated comments, and two threads contained "false and malicious" comments about 2Clix and its softward products. According to 2Clix's statement of claim, the threads included statements that 2Clix "has problems" and that it was losing its employees and relying on independent contractors. In addition, forum participants allegedly warned readers to avoid 2Clix's software.

2Clix filed suit after Wright refused to acquiesce to its repeated email requests to remove the content. 2Clix sought an injunction requiring Wright to remove the threads and damages in the amount of Aus$150,000. Wright defended the claim through the support of donations from users of his site. 2Clix withdrew its claim less than a month later.

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