Holmes Report Blog

The Holmes Report blog focuses on news and issues of interest to public relations professionals. Our main site can be found at www.holmesreport.com.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Disney Disgrace: It’s always unedifying to see giant corporations use legal bullying against their critics in the media, but there’s an extra irony when the giant corporation involved is in the media business itself.

Disney has filed a copyright infringement suit against blogger Spocko, who has been waging a campaign against radio station KSFO and right-wing talk show host ?????. Over the past few years, it has become commonplace for leading supporters of the Bush administration to call for the imprisonment or even the execution of the administration’s critics, and Disney’s Melanie Morgan joined the parade earlier this year, calling for the death of New York Times editor Bill Keller.

Spocko posted audio clips from KSFO programming, triggering a letter-writing campaign that prompted advertisers including Visa and MasterCard to reconsider their support for the station. Disney responded by sending a cease-and-desist letter to Spocko’s ISP, claiming the use of the audio clips was an infringement of copyright and Spocko’s site was shut down.

The truth is that the use of audio clips was almost certainly within the “fair use” provision, which allows news sites to use selected material to illustrate stories. If Spocko was a vast news organization with large resources, Disney would never have considered using such a spurious lawsuit. But Spocko is a lone blogger, and his ISP apparently has no interest in defending the right of free speech on the Internet, so Disney has been able to shut down the site, for now.


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