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Wal-Mart Parody Site Censored by DMCA

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the always-low-opinion dept.

The Courts 469

davidwr writes "Wal-Mart used the Digital Millenium Copyright Act to temporarily shut down a university student's parody of the Wal-Mart Foundation." The story's details are also available via BusinessWeek. From the article: "Papasian launched the Web site April 16 for an art class at Carnegie Mellon University called 'Parasitic Media.' The class teaches students about the political uses of satire in the media. He acknowledged using Wal-Mart's graphics on his Web site but said he believed he could use the images as part of a parody."

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Uh oh! (-1, Troll)

MrP-(at work) (839979) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371511)

"Nothing for you to see here. Please move along."

Looks like WalMart got to Slashdot!

Re:Uh oh! (0, Offtopic)

republican gourd (879711) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371531)

Open Source + Cheap overseas outsourcing: Watch out for falling prices!

In Soviet Wal-Mart (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12371513)

In Soviet Wal-Mart
DMCA Censors you!

Re:In Soviet Wal-Mart (3, Insightful)

CokeBear (16811) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371613)

Apparantly, its not just Soviet Russia. It happens in the USA now too. Quite sad, actually, that the cold war was fought for 50 years against a totalitairan regime, only to win, and take on some of the elements of that regime ourselves.

Re:In Soviet Wal-Mart (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12371642)

Aren't all Wal-Marts Soviet?

First Post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12371522)

w00t! Props to the 3 Matts

Re:First Post (0)

Akash (442677) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371552)

wow, who woulda thought it woulda gone that far.. how does the dmca play a part in this.. wouldnt this just be old fashon copyright infringment and not the dmca?

Just call it MalWart (4, Insightful)

aphor (99965) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371526)

If you alter the content, they have no claim against DMCA. MalWart != WalMart.

Re: Just call it MalWart (1, Funny)

panda (10044) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371718)

I prefer to call it WalFart, myself.

Foolish boy... (4, Insightful)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371536)

... didn't he read the clause about 'if and only if you have the legal resources to make an argument about it'?

Exceptions to copyright for parody, fair use, etc. only apply to those who have lawyers.

Re:Foolish boy... (1)

reezle (239894) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371762)

"Exceptions to copyright for parody, fair use, etc. only apply to those who have lawyers"

Wonderful way to put it. This one will have to go in my scrap book.

All my mods are belong to you... (Sorry I have none today)

Re:Foolish boy... (3, Informative)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371764)

Fair use in parody only applies if you're not using their exact graphics/trademarks. If you are you're violating their copyrights, and possibly open for libel/fraud depending on what you're attributing to the company.

I don't know why this would fall under the DMCA, other than the fact that its a website. Standard copyright/trademark law would apply.

Re:Foolish boy... (5, Informative)

schon (31600) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371860)

Fair use in parody only applies if you're not using their exact graphics/trademarks.

Bullshit. Try reading section 107 of the copyright act.

If you are you're violating their copyrights

Again, pure bullshit. Use of a work for parody is *NOT* a copyright violation.

possibly open for libel/fraud depending on what you're attributing to the company

It's not fraud unless you claim that you are the entity in question, and it's only libel if the claims are false, and only in some situations (libel is more difficult to prove against public entities.)

Standard copyright/trademark law would apply.

Yes, and because it's parody, it has an exception under Section 107 - so he's protected.

Re:Foolish boy... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12371965)

I always find it sad when people have to use expletives to get their message across.

Re:Foolish boy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12372029)

I find it sad that people find expletives so debilitating to an argument.

Re:Foolish boy... (5, Informative)

nickname225 (840560) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371971)

I am a lawyer - althought Copyright is not my area of expertise... anyway - the standard for parody is something like - is a a reasonable person likley to confuse the parody work as the work of the original. It sounds like no reasonable person would confuse this guys work as an actual wal-mart site.. But as noted above those kinds of arguments can be expensive to prove and that protection really does only apply to those who can afford to at least get the issue in fromt of a judge and ask for dismissal or summary judgment. Waht would that cost in a case like this - figure with discovery and drafting and filing fees - maybe as much as 10,000 and up. Easy to see why this college student just folded.

Re:Foolish boy... (2, Informative)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371990)

Legal precident sez you're wrong.

Deere & Co. v. MTD Products, Inc., 41 F.3d 39 (2d Cir. 1994).

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Inc. v. Pussycat Cinema, Ltd., 604 F.2d 200, 206 (2d Cir. 1979).

Libel applies whereever you attribute something in writing to someone who does not hold that belief. It is always legally actionable.

Re:Foolish boy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12372021)

But does he have stairs in his house?

This is waaaaay overblown... (4, Insightful)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371545)

This is getting way to much press. Lemmie put it to you this way:
Walmart Foundation: www.walmartfoundation.org
Parody Site: www.walmart-foundation.org

Walmart is NOT bitching about this.

He basically has a site where people probably stumble onto when they are trying to go to a legit site. Walmart's ONLY beef was that he was using their images.

I can't tell you how we ALL have known since the web was invented that you don't steal other peoples graphics. Sure, there may be some grey area with parodies, but its the same thing we knew when we were just getting into making HTML.

But, since this kid wants press, he starts using "CENSORED BY THE DMCA" so we'll all cry fowl.
He rolled the dice and lost... and all it was was over the stupid graphics.

I say, "its an art class, how about making PARODIES of the IMAGES too?"

No extra publicity in that, though...

Re:This is waaaaay overblown... (5, Funny)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371591)

I say, "its an art class, how about making PARODIES of the IMAGES too?"

WalMart don't like his site using their graphics? Well, I'm sure some good Slashdotter will soon post a link to the image he should put up instead... I'm sure WalMart won't like their customers inadvertently staring into the Great Gaping Hole O' Horror, but hey, it's not their image, so screw 'em!

Re:This is waaaaay overblown... (1)

Tuffsnake (767507) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371629)

FOWL!

Re:This is waaaaay overblown... (5, Funny)

Eradicator2k3 (670371) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371637)

he starts using "CENSORED BY THE DMCA" so we'll all cry fowl

Uhmm....Chicken! Albatross! Swallow (African and European)! Emu! Canary! Oh, you meant foul.

Of course (2, Informative)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371649)

Of course the student would want to draw attention to this. One person's "overblown" is another person's "needed publicity."

I'm guessing that if this went to court, it would be thrown out as this site is fairly clearly a parody site. This allows considerable freedom in copying images, ideas, logos, and so on.

Much like the Gone with the Wind publisher battling The Wind Done Gone [freedomforum.org] , it can be fairly counterproductive for large corporations to try and fight these parodies. They do nothing but draw unwanted attention to their rather nasty behavior.

Re:Of course (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371741)

I'm guessing that if this went to court, it would be thrown out as this site is fairly clearly a parody site. This allows considerable freedom in copying images, ideas, logos, and so on.

Did you see the screenshots from the Cease and Desist letter? It's not quite the "parody" the author is making it out to be.

It isn't Boring Boring (4, Funny)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371839)

Well, it's not a particularly good parody perhaps. If I were doing it, I'd subtly change the images for amusement value.

My latest favorite parody is Boring Boring [boringboring.org] , a parody of Boing Boing [boingboing.net] .

How about we just give him a C+ for his school assignment and keep the lawyers out of it?

Re:It isn't Boring Boring (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371959)

It's not just "not a good parody", it's crossing the line of what is acceptable. People don't seem to understand that Parody protection is not a basic right. It's an interpretation of fair use clauses that makes for very shaky ground. If you're going to parody, you need to make damn sure that you do a good job of it. Using trademarks (not fair use), registering the domain "walmart-foundation" instead of "walmartgoodworks", and creating a site that can easily be confused with the original all add up to laywers making easy money off of you.

If his teacher has any sense, (s)he will sit the boy down and explain the tricky legal issues involved in doing a parody, and how to do it right. (e.g. Start with something *funny* and use it to make a point, maybe?)

Re:This is waaaaay overblown... (0)

NtroP (649992) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371670)

You work for Walmart don't you?

I think I know you... You're that tall, skinny greater with the bow-tie!

Re:This is waaaaay overblown... (2, Interesting)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371703)

I actually detest Walmart and all it stands for, and my current client (i'm a contractor) is one of their direct competitors.

I just hate it when people overhype crap to get attention.

Re:This is waaaaay overblown... (5, Insightful)

schon (31600) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371674)

Walmart is NOT bitching about this.

You're right, they're not bitching, they're having their lawyers shut the place down.

Walmart's ONLY beef was that he was using their images.

Which is irrelevant, as (according to Section 107 of the US Copyright act) it was fair use:
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified in that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

Parody is both criticism and commentary.

there may be some grey area with parodies

Uh, no. There is no gray - it is very much black and white.

he starts using "CENSORED BY THE DMCA" so we'll all cry fowl

And rightly so. His First Amendment rights are being violated.

Re:This is waaaaay overblown... (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371911)

> His First Amendment rights are being violated.

Looks like the URLs are pretty similar to me. Perhaps that's the problem, only the lawyers thought it'd be easier to shut him up if they went after the images.

Re:This is waaaaay overblown... (5, Insightful)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371962)

Not only is it criticism and commentary, but this is a student engaged in an activity directly related to scholarship, so that's three counts in his favour.

Re:This is waaaaay overblown... (3, Insightful)

0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371679)

Even if he did copy their graphics and logos and so on, their lawyers asked the entire site to be made offline.

How is that fair? By all means, use the DMCA and whatever other laws to request that he remove the offending graphics. But remove the site from public access? That, too, is crossing the line.

Also, IANAL, but aren't parodies deemed fair use?

Re:This is waaaaay overblown... (2, Informative)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371722)

You've got it backwards.

Parody Site: www.walmart-foundation.org

Walmart is NOT bitching about this.

That's the part they should be bitching about because people could get mislead into thinking that it's the actual WalMart site. The URL should be changed.

I can't tell you how we ALL have known since the web was invented that you don't steal other peoples graphics. Sure, there may be some grey area with parodies, but its the same thing we knew when we were just getting into making HTML.

Every week Saturday Night Live uses the exact intro graphics and theme music from other shows that they are paodying. I guess nobody told them that they can't "steal" other peopls' graphics. That's probably because they actually *can* "steal" other peoples' graphics if it's a parody.

Re:This is waaaaay overblown... (1)

jvv62 (236967) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371834)

Every week Saturday Night Live uses the exact intro graphics and theme music from other shows that they are paodying. I guess nobody told them that they can't "steal" other peopls' graphics. That's probably because they actually *can* "steal" other peoples' graphics if it's a parody.
Actually I suspect they ask permission. A friend of mine worked as an assstant to the producer many years ago, and one of his tasks was to contact the owners of copyrighted or trademarked materials and ask permission to use them on the show. Most of the time folks were pleased to get the exposure.

Re:This is waaaaay overblown... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12371747)

Dude should've called his site something like "mywalmartfoundation.org" and changed the graphics. Then Wal-Mart would still be mad, would likely still huff and puff, but they wouldn't have a leg to stand on.

I bet OSTG would have a problem if someone came up with a parody site called slash-dot.com, and used the same graphics.

Re:This is waaaaay overblown... (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371937)

> so we'll all cry fowl.

Cluck cluck clUUUUUUUUUUUCK!

Oh, you meant 'foul'! My..uh, I mean your mistake!

Re:This is waaaaay overblown... (1)

jvv62 (236967) | more than 9 years ago | (#12372031)

If he can show that his use is non-infringing and that the Walmart Foundation lawyers should have known that then 17 USC 512(f) [cornell.edu] (a later part of the section cited in the cease and desist letter) states:
(f) Misrepresentations.-- Any person who knowingly materially misrepresents under this section-- (1) that material or activity is infringing, or (2) that material or activity was removed or disabled by mistake or misidentification, shall be liable for any damages, including costs and attorneys' fees, incurred by the alleged infringer, by any copyright owner or copyright owner's authorized licensee, or by a service provider, who is injured by such misrepresentation, as the result of the service provider relying upon such misrepresentation in removing or disabling access to the material or activity claimed to be infringing, or in replacing the removed material or ceasing to disable access to it.
[emphasis added]
So he will be able to get his lawyer fees covered by Walmart.

Re:This is waaaaay overblown... (1)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 9 years ago | (#12372043)

Walmart's ONLY beef was that he was using their images.

Which is silly. A copyright case would be DOA in court if the guy bothered to fight it. Indeed, his site could go back online immediately simply by presenting a letter to the effect that, "I, soandso at this address certify that I am making fair use of the graphics under the parody exception to copyright law. Restore the site." If the ISP refused to restore the site, they'd actually be breaking the law!

Walmart should have gone after the trademark issue. They actually has a legitimate case here for trademark infringement. There are no protections in trademark law for using someone's trademark for parody.

From TFA (0, Redundant)

Kagura (843695) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371547)

"The goal was to make the site look like it could be a real site from a company like Wal-Mart, but have text that was so ridiculous that anyone who read it would realize that it was absurd," Papasian said in a statement on his revamped Web site. "If anyone believed it to be a real Wal-Mart site, that is only a testament to the degree of absurdity that exists within corporate America today."

Wal-Mart claimed Papasian violated copyright law and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by improperly using images from the real Wal-Mart Foundation's Web site -- http://www.walmartfoundation.org./ [www.walmar...dation.org]

Papasian said he closed the site for five days so he could remove the offending graphics. In place of the images, Papasian has put the word "censored."

I was under the impression... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12371549)

That not only were parodies protected in the U.S., but that educational programs were also granted special protection. Anybody know how much it costs to move to Canada?

Re:I was under the impression... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12371620)

Canada doesn't take Anonymous Cowards - I tried... they said that they filled their quota between 1968 and 1974.

Re:I was under the impression... (2, Insightful)

Shalda (560388) | more than 9 years ago | (#12372015)

Walmart is only objecting to the use of their logos, not the parody itself. This is a farily reasonable request. No one has actually been sued, WalMart simply had their lawyers send out a Cease and Desist letter. They probably send out several of them every day. WalMart is well within their rights to demand this. While the parody site was intending to make this look as much like an official WalMart site as possible, the can run afoul of trademark law. The right thing to do is to parody the WalMart graphics as well. Not a lawyer, but WalMart is probably in the right on this one.

ATTENTION: ALL TROLLS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12371555)

This site is gay. Do you agree? [blogspot.com]

If so, please post your thoughts. Include various pictures of goatse, tubgirl and others.

Your support is appreciated.

Ahhh, good old fair-use, remember the days? (3, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371563)

"The goal was to make the site look like it could be a real site from a company like Wal-Mart, but have text that was so ridiculous that anyone who read it would realize that it was absurd," Papasian said in a statement on his revamped Web site. "If anyone believed it to be a real Wal-Mart site, that is only a testament to the degree of absurdity that exists within corporate America today."

Due to all the retarded behavior that our fellow citizens exhibit on a daily basis I am never surprised when I see people falling for direct parody.

I am also not surprised that corporations are allowed to shutdown *what was likely fair use*. Sadly, someday, we will all look back on this and say, "look how free we once were. It survived 400 hits before it was taken down. They didn't even have to approve the webpage before it was posted."

Re:Ahhh, good old fair-use, remember the days? (5, Funny)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371811)

Look, don't complain about the corporations. The King, who is appointed by divine right, grants the corporations land, and in exchange they provide him with fighting men in wartime. The corporations in turn grant land to executives, who (in theory) turn out to fight when called upon. In practice, the executives then rent out the land to poor tenant farmers, the serfs, who not only actually do the fighting in wartime but also work the land, paying a portion of their income to the landlord and the Church and keeping back enough to support themselves and their family in moderate means.

You see how the system works to everyone's benefit? Everything fits together tidily. It's called feuda^H^H^H^Hcapitalism, and it's a good thing, despite what Comrade Tyler and his gang of pinko subversives might have you believe.

Re:Ahhh, good old fair-use, remember the days? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12371873)

HAHAHAHA!!!

I was having a hard time dealing with the morons in development, then you showed me there is at least one more person who is stupider than they are.

Thanks!

Parodies are great, but... (2, Insightful)

yroJJory (559141) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371565)

there are very clear precedents stating what is cool and what isn't.

Making a parody is cool. Using the original artwork to create your parody isn't.

Even when making a parody of a song, you must pay royalties on the original and you must obtain permission should you use any portion of the original mechanical.

If you're gonna create a parody site, you simply cannot snag artwork from the original, and you certainly can't use the company's actual logo!

Wrong on Song (3, Informative)

Allen Zadr (767458) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371698)

No... if you want to commercially MARKET a parody of a song, you must pay royalties and obtain permission. If you want to simply make a parody, and give it away - there's nothing to stop that (unless you find financial gain from that parody).

Re:Wrong on Song (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 9 years ago | (#12372049)

"If you want to simply make a parody, and give it away - there's nothing to stop that"

Wrong. Even free distribution is considered distribution under copyright law.

Re:Parodies are great, but... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12371771)

"Even when making a parody of a song, you must pay royalties on the original and you must obtain permission should you use any portion of the original mechanical."

No. I refer you to the US copyright act section: 107 Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use, which states:

"Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted
work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or
by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment,
news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use),
scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright."

While it does not explicitly mention parody, that is covered under criticism, comment, or news reporting. This is why John Stewart can show clips of copyrighted works on the Daily Show and not infringe.

Re:Parodies are great, but... (4, Informative)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371878)

Even when making a parody of a song, you must pay royalties on the original and you must obtain permission should you use any portion of the original mechanical. Coolio got all upset after Weird Al released Amish Paradise. Apparently, Al thought Coolio had given permission to parody Gangsta's Paradise, but he actually hadn't. But there wasn't really anything Coolio could do legally because it's a parody. Weird Al apologized but didn't exactly take the song off the market. He generally only does parodies if he gets permission out of respect for the artists, not because he's legally obligated to.

Re:Parodies are great, but... (1)

srh2o (442608) | more than 9 years ago | (#12372038)

What precedents do you mean, specifically. Ah I didn't think so.

Better case (0, Redundant)

mattmentecky (799199) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371574)

I think the guy would have a better case if the domain names werent so similar.

Is it reasonable to suspect someone mistaken the parody site for the reason one, a difference in a hyphen? I can't answer that, I dunno.

But given the average/stereo-typical intellectuality of a Wal-Mart customer.... :-p

Walmart leading (1)

Himring (646324) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371581)

Walmart, now the leader in using the DMCA....

Small businesses cannot keep up and use the DMCA on a much teenier basis....

What does the DMCA have to do with this? (3, Insightful)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371582)

I thought the DMCA protected protection-schemes, not copyright law.. It's not like Walmart put copy-protection on the JPEGs. I didn't think the copyright would apply anyways, wouldn't this site be allowed fair use of the images? It's not like he's trying to compete with them.
I still hate the DMCA..

Re:What does the DMCA have to do with this? (3, Insightful)

grungebox (578982) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371680)

I think it's a safe bet to include DMCA in any C&D letter. Even if it doesn't apply, it's a good legal scare tactic. Everyone's afraid of the DMCA.

Re:What does the DMCA have to do with this? (1)

ulmanms (106454) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371927)

Digital Millennium Copyright Act
(emphasis mine).

Basically, there's a provision that protects service providers from being sued for copyright violations if they agree to take down potentially infringing material pending investigation.
Yes, there's language protecting copy-protection, too, but the copyright safe harbor clause is an important one.
You can read more about it here [digital-law-online.info]

How to shoot yourself in the foot in three easy.. (5, Insightful)

Ckwop (707653) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371585)

How to shoot yourself in the foot in three easy steps.

  1. Get annoyed at tiny web-site, which gets less than 400 hits a day, (Slashdot gets this traffic in 20 seconds.) which has the audacity to rubbish your brand-name.
  2. Send cease and desist letter to owner of domain and ISP.
  3. Finally, wait for the story to arrive in the main-stream where the site containing the slanderous speach is now linked to be all and sundry and the site now gets traffic upward of 20 hits a second.

Simon.

Re:How to shoot yourself in the foot in three easy (5, Insightful)

Evro (18923) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371805)

Wal-Mart does not care about this kind of bad PR. The people who would find this type of action detestable are not Wal-Mart's target demographic. Wal-Mart has continually eaten bags of poop in the mainstream media over their staunch opposition to unions and the way they've destroyed most mom-and-pop type stores, but this hasn't translated to lost sales for them, because the people who shop at Wal-Mart care about one thing, and one thing only: low prices. As long as this suit doesn't lead to higher prices, Wal-Mart will come out of it financially unscathed.

Walmart is in a world of hurt... (2, Informative)

robyannetta (820243) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371593)

...over this. Don't forget, parody is LEGAL:

http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/comm/free_speech/ hustler.html [bc.edu]

Re:Walmart is in a world of hurt... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12371660)

Unfortunately, using original works (in this case, the graphics from Walmarts site) in your parody is ILLEGAL.

Re:Walmart is in a world of hurt... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12371824)

Unless the works pertain to the target of your parody. In that situation, courts have ruled more often in favor of the parody.

Re:Walmart is in a world of hurt... (1)

Council (514577) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371858)

Unless the works pertain to the target of your parody. In that situation, courts have ruled more often in favor of the parody.

I would like to see references on this; I am inclined to disbelieve it.

Re:Walmart is in a world of hurt... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12371673)

Walmart didn't shut down the site. They told him to take the images he swiped off their site off the website. HE shut down the site to create FUD for media outlets to attach to. Good thing people read the article to see the real reason, not slashdot's misdirecting hype article that makes you think walmart took down a parody site...

Look alike graphics would be OK. (2, Insightful)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371597)

If he hadn't leveraged any WalMart code or graphics he wouldn't have any problems. He could still do the site if he were to build a look alike from scratch. Some of the graphics he used were Wal-Mart property, and even in parody the use of their graphics would not be legally protected.

Re:Look alike graphics would be OK. (5, Informative)

bugg (65930) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371842)

I disgree- and in the interest of full disclosure, it's my website.

The graphics are, granted, the hardest part to prove 'fair use' for, but there is still a fair use case to be made. That's not just my opinion, but also the opinion of the lawyers I have been in contact with.

The graphics are not being distributed by themselves as such, rather, they are part of the website which is a larger work, and in my view, markedly different from the original. That makes it a derivative work, and as such, protected as 'fair use'.

There is a lot of mistaken applications of other types of copyright law here. The big difference is I stand to make no financial gain, directly or indirectly, from this site. I don't owe royalties because I don't have profit. I don't need permission because it's fair use.

Yeah thats really bad.. (1)

t_allardyce (48447) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371603)

we're still all going to shop there for low low prices tho right?

Not Star Wars Fans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12371800)

Star Wars fans, "stay on Target". And who among us doesn't know that quote?

WalMart's Import Policy (4, Insightful)

bigtallmofo (695287) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371608)

It looks like WalMart imports more than just cheap goods created by virtual slave labor from China.

Now they're further hurting our trade deficit by importing clamp-down tactics from the Chinese communist government!

Re:WalMart's Import Policy (1)

The_Quinn (748261) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371900)

Blaming wal-mart for exercising the law is like blaming your English teacher for how boring "War and Peace" is. Wal Mart didn't write the law, it is only asking for enforcement of the law.

not a huge deal (1, Informative)

grungebox (578982) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371612)

Karma burning....I mean, I hate Wal-Mart more than any other company in the world and have not been in a store in almost a year, nor will I ever set foot in one again. That being said, it's not a huge deal, is it? After RTFA, it seems that all the kid had to do was take down some of the offending images, which are copyrighted anyway. Likewise, I can't use Slashdot's logo and crap without permission. Granted, they probably wouldn't care, but not caring != legal. I might be wrong, so I'm sure someone will correct me.

Walmart (2, Interesting)

Manan Shah (808049) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371626)

I think Walmart gives an example of why 100% pure capitalism is a bad thing. Walmart tends to lower the standrd of living in many of the communities it moves in, and increases the unemployment rates. Even when their practices are perfectly legal, they tend to hurt many of the small businesses in the community. Free market, you say? Well, if 'free market' lowers the standard of living for so many people, then the concept is flawed. A lot of free market supporters use the same fervor as the socialists/communitsts do when defending their idealogy and fail to realize there is no such thing as a perfect system. I am still a Libertarian, but some Wal-Mart fan-boy's need to calm down and analyze exactly what they are supporting.

Re:Walmart (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371654)

"Wal-Mart fan-boy's need to calm down and analyze exactly what they are supporting."

Cheap DVD players for me. No future for my kids.

I call bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12371825)

Walmart tends to lower the standrd of living in many of the communities it moves in, and increases the unemployment rates.

Cite. And not some ideology website with manifestos.

Re:I call bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12371866)

Ditto.
I googled some studies and all "say" this happens but dont offer a single shred of data.
Put up or stfu.

Re:I call bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12371957)

Another big problem with Wal-Mart is their record of "old boy" discrimination against women. Women account for the majority of their employees, but only a small percentage of store management. And the numbers gets worse up the executive hierarchy. Of course, they *do* have a woman spokeperson to deny the charges (good thinking).

Also they're well known for their union busting tactics (closing stores that become unionized for "unrelated" reasons), although this isn't a hot button for me.

-not the OP

Re:Walmart (4, Insightful)

241comp (535228) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371915)

To be honest, it's NOT WalMart that causes this (if it even really happens). It is the customers who do it to themselves. If we are all so price-conscious (read: cheap) that we shut down all the local shops in our home town... let's just say that we reap what we sow. The tragedy of the commons and all that jazz.

Logos are like dynamite (1)

Hao Wu (652581) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371628)

Sure, one can use explosives in any context, so long as it's part of a political statement. It's free speech!

Hmmmm....... (1)

8127972 (73495) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371650)

WalMart can't nail him for being critical of their company (one of many who are it should be noted), so they use the DMCA to get him. All the really have done is increase his visiblity. I've sent his URL and the /. link to at least ten people since this was posted on /. and I am certian that others will forward my e-amil as well. I suspect others will do the same. Now he's got the attention a a much bigger audience.

Perhaps they should have left him alone. Then this wouldn't be an issue to them.

Good censorship quotes (5, Insightful)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371662)

"Literature should not be suppressed merely because it offends the moral code of the censor." ~ William Orville Douglas (1898-1980) US Supreme Court associate justice, 1935-75, professor of law at Yale
"Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that nobody can read." ~ George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright & novelist
"The Internet treats censorship as a malfunction and routes around it." ~ John Perry Barlow (1947-) Wyoming cattle rancher, a lyricist for the Grateful Dead
"I believe in censorship. After all, I made a fortune out of it." ~ Mae West (1892-1980) American comedienne from "My Little Chickadee," 1940.
"Censorship is almost systematically the weapon of first resort for governments in uncertain political situations. So not only are the famous writers and bold journalists in danger; at every level of public and private life, the freedoms to think, read or write are denied. In the absence of a free press, other human rights abuses flourish unabated. Nothing is reported, criticized, questioned. The example of imprisonment, torture or execution imposes a further silence. A blindly obedient mob mentality is encouraged, driven by extremist religious or ethnic loyalties. The citizens do not know what is happening. Fear and ignorance permeate discussion." ~ Marian Botsford Fraser
"Censor: A self-appointed snoophound who sticks his nose in other people's business." ~ Bennett Cerf
[quotes from zaadz.com]

Do the teachers at the lefty propaganda mills... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12371682)

...ever get tired of their students kicking the same over-kicked puppy dogs? Is there any desire or reward for going against the left-wing groupthink that might naturally occur amongst art students? Won't many of them move on to providing layout and graphics for evil corporations? Doesn't this merely perpetuate the myth that no individual has personal responsibly for CHOOSING to shop at wal-mart, eat at McDonalds or believe in a mythical superbeing? Sounds like they're just producing another generation just as holier-than-thou and judgmental and unaccepting of personal choice as the right-wing idiots that infest our government.

Other Web sites designed by students for the class included a parody of a fitness campaign by the fast-food restaurant chain McDonald's Corp. and a site satirizing "700 Club," religious broadcaster Pat Robertson's television show.

Re:Do the teachers at the lefty propaganda mills.. (2, Insightful)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371862)

Is there any desire or reward for going against the left-wing groupthink that might naturally occur amongst art students?

'Scuse me? You want professors to offer a reward - presumably, higher marks - for producing specifically right-wing propaganda?

Re:Do the teachers at the lefty propaganda mills.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12372005)

You seem to believe that there is either left-wing or right-wing propaganda, that you must choose one or the other. I don't think professors should be rewarding any particular agenda. They should be rewarding reason, rationality, and thoughtfulness in their arguments. Instead professors seem to reward groupthink, which in this country, seems to be shoehorned into either progressive or conservative. There is no room for the individual view. You must choose one of the two camps.

Lefty or just tired of consumer-oriented everythin (2, Insightful)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371902)

CHOOSING to shop at wal-mart, eat at McDonalds or believe in a mythical superbeing?
Sometimes there is no choice, the town has one WalMart and the rest of the small businesses go under leaving you no choice in where to buy -or- you must travel far away to go to a small independent shop.
Greed is the driving factor among everything these days, the competition is brutal and the labor is cheap....is this a lefty view? or just a rational one?

Re:Lefty or just tired of consumer-oriented everyt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12371941)

What the hell are these stuudents doing in a university art class? Is it for the love of learning? Or earning the papers to join the job market to participate in the consumer-oriented everything?

No Credibility (1, Insightful)

ImTwoSlick (723185) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371687)

If anyone believed it to be a real Wal-Mart site, that is only a testament to the degree of absurdity that exists within corporate America today.

This guy lost all credibility with this one statement. What does the ability of someone to mistake this site for a real one have anything to do with absurdity within corporate America? This guy is just spouting off rhetoric. Plain and simple.

Re:No Credibility (1)

stealth.c (724419) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371864)

What does someone mistaking it for a real site have to do with the level of corporate America's absurdity?

Clearly he means that the lengths to which companies like Wal-Mart will go to spin something as positive for themselves would be comic parody if we lived in a sane society.

Fortunately for all corporate behemoths, most Americans have been fashioned by TV into such brainwashed intellectual sloths that they'll believe practically anything.

Therefore, if anyone believed it to be a real Wal-Mart site, it is indicative not only of the intensity of current corporate doublespeak, but also of America's expectation to hear such nonsense.

Re:No Credibility (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371955)

Well, you could argue that if average people believe that a large corporation would post pictures of a protest against themselves and claim that it's building community spirit, then they must believe it because corporations do idiotic things like that regularly, so it doesn't seem strange.

Me, I'm more likely to think they believe it because average people are idiots.

Re:No Credibility (1)

hplasm (576983) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371989)

I think it should read "Corporate America"

Will anti-phishing laws be similarly used? (1)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371696)

Using the law in unintended ways is nothing new. Although nothing has been done about this yet, I suspect that anti-phishing legislation could also be used by a corporation to shut down parody sites. Depending on how the law is worded (misworded), it could become a crime to make a site the "looks like another site."

Although the courts may, eventually, rule in favor of the parody site, the legal costs to defend the site mean victory for those who would resort to barritry.

Is the Wal-Mart Foundation a legit non-profit? (5, Interesting)

Ktistec Machine (159201) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371726)

From the article: "An interesting aspect of the cease and desist is that it was signed by a lawyer who wrote that she was acting on behalf of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. This statement unintentionally emphasizes one of the main points that my parody was trying to prove all along: The Wal-Mart "Foundation" is nothing more than a front group for Wal-Mart Stores Incorporated, and should not be confused for a real charitable non-profit."

Shopping at Wal Mart... (3, Funny)

Le Marteau (206396) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371731)

... always makes me feel cheap and sleazy. Like it's something I shouldn't be doing. One of the many reasons I like shopping at Wal Mart.

This is pretty amusing (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12371804)

This student's site is going to get a ton more visits and publicity now that the story has broken. Way to go, Walmart!

Europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12371840)

Everytime when I read things like that, I'm glad to live in good old Europe... but for how long?! Here the Think Tanks become more and more powerful, too.

Perhaps I will move to the jugle and bekome an hermit ;-)

Exhibit 1 (1)

spac3manspiff (839454) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371850)

"Microsoft Internet Explorer"

This should be enough to discredit the Walmart.

If this parody is legal... (0, Troll)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371863)

...then I'm take every copyrighted song and movie I own and make a "parody" where I add a humorous cymbal crash at the end of the original work. Then I can legally distribute my "parodies" of the songs and music.

I'm surprised... (1)

crl620 (743475) | more than 9 years ago | (#12371981)

...that they haven't tried to take down other sites yet.

Take this one: http://walmartwatch.com/ [walmartwatch.com]
They have way more publicity and even had an ad in the New York Times.

Somewhat OT (1)

$1uck (710826) | more than 9 years ago | (#12372013)

I don't understand why the biggest criticism of wal-mart isn't the fact that everytime you shop there you are supporting the world's largest communist dictatorship. Which is truly Ironic considering that their biggest criticism happens to be their "business practices" to which the "right-wing" conservative answer is always find a better business model and compete better "thats how capitalism works." To underscore what should be obvious its not capitalism bringing you those low low prices instead is a repressive (ultra-left-wing communist style) dictatorship.
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