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Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

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Copyfight

« Redefining "Copy" in the Digital Era | Main | Content Communists »

October 18, 2005

Danger, Wil Wheaton

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It looks like Barney is back for a second round in the fair use fight, but in the past four years, the ground rules have changed a bit.


Barney's lawyers at the New York firm of Gibney, Anthony and Flaherty sent stiff warning letters last week to Web sites displaying less-than-flattering images of the plump saurian.

"Your Web site depicts a plush Barney toy in a violent manner or position," Matthew Carlin wrote Tuesday on behalf of Lyons Partnership, which owns the Barney trademark. "We are writing to request that you remove this violent content toward Barney on your Web site." [...]

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco civil liberties group providing legal representation to Frankel, dismisses the legal threats as nonsense. "I think that Barney is unfortunately looking like he's becoming a recidivist in phony copyright claims," said Cindy Cohn, EFF's legal director.

In 2001, EFF took on Barney's lawyers after they sent out similar cease-and-desist letters. At the time, Cohn wrote back saying that anti-Barney screeds were protected by the First Amendment rights to publish parodies, and Barney's owners never pursued the matter further.

Since then, the EFF managed to break new legal ground by forcing voting machine maker Diebold to write a check to settle allegations of copyright misuse. "We were very happy to cash that check for $125,000 from Diebold when they made phony copyright claims," Cohn said. "I'd be happy to cash one from Barney."


The Diebold reference is explained here; Wil Wheaton reference here. These photos ought to give Barney a few more reasons to be shaking in his boots, eh?

Update: Welcome, Fark readers. I see I've puzzled a few of you. To clarify: besides portraying Wesley Crusher on Star Trek and becoming an A-list blogger, Wil Wheaton is a champion for free speech on the Net. He's also a friend of EFF, an organization that's spent the last 15 years fighting for free speech online. Which is why, back in the day, Wil literally kicked Barney's butt in a mock duel to benefit EFF and criticize the Barney lawyers, who keep trying to silence people with cease-and-desist nastygrams. Now it looks like Barney's angling for a rematch.

Hope that helps.

Comments (11) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Abuse


COMMENTS

1. Adam on October 18, 2005 6:35 PM writes...

How can Barney even think of suing? He's a public figure. He's open to criticism as legitmate public interest. Look up Market Place of Ideas; see Ny Times v. Sullivan and its progeny.

Permalink to Comment

2. Snicker on October 18, 2005 6:39 PM writes...

Thank you, Wil, for continuing to fight for our freedom. Purple dinosaurs aside, the Internet is the last real frontier here on Earth, and we need to do all we can to protect it from becoming the legal morass that the real world has become.

Permalink to Comment

3. Anxst on October 18, 2005 8:19 PM writes...

Wil, I'd like to thank you for helping bring the EFF to the attention of more Farkers out there, and the public in general.

Woot!

Permalink to Comment

4. AxsDeny on October 18, 2005 10:25 PM writes...

Why does Barney hate Freedom? And America?

Permalink to Comment

5. Craig on October 19, 2005 4:59 AM writes...

Go ahead Wheaton, give it to Barney right up his purple pooper.

Permalink to Comment

6. SENORCYNIC on October 19, 2005 6:21 AM writes...

Is this where the cosmos shifts, Barney becomes extinct, turns into $6 a barrel oil and the copyright lawyers will have to ask you if you want fries with that tort?

Permalink to Comment

7. burglar on October 19, 2005 7:32 AM writes...

I have eaten the purple poop.

It is not good like they want you to believe.

Permalink to Comment

8. RP. on October 19, 2005 9:52 AM writes...

I thought the reference was to the 1990s usenet lists, alt.barney.die.die.die and alt.wesleycrusher.die.die.die.

Permalink to Comment

9. Anonymous on October 19, 2005 4:13 PM writes...

Wil,
This would not be the first time that a computer genius fought the forces of evil that manifest itself in the guise of a hideous lizard-thing bent on taking over the universe. Give 'em hell!

Permalink to Comment

10. AdamT on October 19, 2005 4:15 PM writes...

Sorry, forgot to enter my address for the comment above. Thanks for standing up for free speech, Wil.

Permalink to Comment

11. momof3 on October 19, 2005 11:05 PM writes...

EFF needs to get their dinosaurs straight. The grudge match photo shows Dino from the Flintstones, not Barney.

Permalink to Comment

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