Saturday, March 25, 2006

This is just too wonderful.

This is from

Christian group backs off case against blog parody
By Jon Swartz, USA TODAY
SAN FRANCISCO — A Christian group that promotes heterosexuality Thursday quietly dropped its beef against a blogger who poked fun at it.
Exodus International initially claimed the altered image of one of its billboards by Justin Watt infringed its copyright. But Exodus is no longer pursuing the matter after Watt stopped using its "watermark" logo, Exodus President Alan Chambers said.

Watt, operator of the Justinsomnia blog, says he exercised free speech when he parodied the Exodus billboard, which says, "Gay? Unhappy?" Wyatt re-created the billboard on his site so it read, "Straight? Unhappy?"

(Exodus uses ".to" as its domain suffix because ".com" was not available.)

Watt, 26, a Web developer in Northern California who enlisted the aid of the American Civil Liberties Union and high-powered law firm Fenwick & West, has posted his blog for four years. He posted the parody Sept. 19 because he found Exodus' message "offensive." A lawyer representing Exodus sent Watt a cease-and-desist letter on March 2.

The dust-up has made Watt a cause célèbre among bloggers. More than 40 other websites now carry the spoof.

Had the dispute escalated, it would have extended the debate over fair use of copyrighted material beyond print and electronic media and to blogs, says copyright attorney Tom Zellerbach.

Companies frequently ask websites to remove images and text out of concern they infringe copyrighted material. But high-profile cases involving bloggers have been rare, Zellerbach and other lawyers say.

The incident gained attention because Watt understood his rights and contacted an attorney, said ACLU lawyer Ann Brick, who represented him. "We don't know how often people get cease-and-desist letters and pull material without knowing their rights," she said.

"Just as the First Amendment allows Exodus to post its billboard, it gives Justin the right to post a parody," Brick said.

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