FC: Jerry Falwell won't get jerryfalwell.com parody site --WIPO panel

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Mon Jun 10 2002 - 07:46:56 PDT

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    Previous Politech message:
    "Jerry Falwell demands to own jerryfalwell.com parody site"
    Date: Thu, 06 Jun 2002 13:24:24 -0400
    From: "Paul Levy" <PLEVYat_private>
    To: <declanat_private>
    Subject: Falwell loses bid to shut down parody Web site
    The WIPO panel considering Jerry Falwell's attempt to strip Gary Cohn of 
    his parody web site has ruled that Cohn is entitled to keep his domain 
    names.  Here is the press release that we have issued  on this subject.
    Paul Alan Levy
    Public Citizen Litigation Group
    1600 - 20th Street, N.W.
    Washington, D.C. 20009
    (202) 588-1000
     >>> Angela Bradbery 06/06/02 01:20PM >>>
    No Divine Intervention Here; Falwell Loses Bid to Shut Down
    Parody Web Site
    World Intellectual Property Organization Rules in Favor of Illinois Resident
    WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Rev. Jerry Falwell today lost his bid to silence a 
    critic who created a Web site that uses Falwell's name in its address and 
    parodies the reverend's statements.
    At issue is a noncommercial Web site established by Illinois resident Gary 
    Cohn that mocks Falwell for blaming the September 11 attacks on the 
    supposed moral decline of America and parodies the way Falwell cites Bible 
    verses to make moral judgments. The site can be found under the domain 
    names jerryfalwell.com and jerryfallwell.com.
    Falwell had claimed to hold a trademark on his name because of his fame and 
    argued that the site wasn't parody. He had asked the World Intellectual 
    Property Organization (WIPO) to strip the site of its domain names.
    However, in a 2-1 vote, a WIPO mediation panel today ruled against Falwell, 
    saying that Falwell had failed to show that his name - even though 
    well-known - has been used as a trademark to label particular goods or 
    services. Without trademark status, the use of a name in a Web site is 
    considered a legitimate, noncommercial fair use. In fact, the panel noted, 
    Falwell has been careful to avoid the suggestion that he has exploited his 
    name for commercial reasons and had told the WIPO that he has used his name 
    principally to advance his religious views.
    Further, "[w]hether regarded as a parody, satire, or critical commentary, 
    the majority [of the panel] believes that legitimate noncommercial fair use 
    commentary is involved," the panel wrote. "Whether the commentary is in 
    good taste, whether it is funny, whether it is effective, all is beside the 
    point." A copy of the ruling is available at 
    "This is a victory for First Amendment rights on the Internet," said Paul 
    Alan Levy, the Public Citizen attorney who represented Cohn in the case. 
    "Without the domain name, the Web site would likely be much harder to find. 
    We are pleased that the panel agreed that Mr. Cohn has a right to use 
    Falwell's name when criticizing him, and has every right to do so on the 
    Internet. Also, Public Citizen thanks Philadelphia lawyer John Berryhill 
    for his assistance in defending this case."
    Public Citizen is anonprofit consumer advocacy organization based in 
    Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.citizen.org. 
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