April 27, 2005
Walmart Foundation Uses Copyright to Curtail Griper
The Walmart Foundation has gone after the gripe site “walmart-foundation.org” using 512(c)(3) notices to take down images that the griper took from walmartfoundation.org. A few observations about this:
* copyright is an extremely effective tool against gripers. Using a 512(c)(3) notice has the power to get immediate attention from upstream hosts/IAPs, which usually leads to a very quick resolution/shutdown. On the other hand, copyright only limits certain types of ways that gripers can complain—they are still free to say what they want, but they can’t use copyrighted works indiscriminately.
* I’m surprised that the Foundation didn’t mention any trademark issue. Perhaps the Bosley case is a partial explanation...?
* I read through some of the gripe site's text, which the griper tried to characterize as “parody." I thought some of it was pretty subtle commentary, not obviously a parody. In fact, to make his point, it seems like the griper took a lot of Foundation text in addition to Foundation graphics. I’m not sure why the 512(c)(3) notice didn’t mention the taking of copyrighted text. (I can’t imagine it’s because there's a different in the fair use treatment of text modifications vs. graphics).
The anti-griper forces are resilient. While trademark may have its limits, copyright can be a powerful alternative. We will see this situation again.