Chamber Of Commerce Sues Yes Men; Someone Just Gave Protestors A Lot More Attention

from the a-lot-of-happy-yes-men dept

While we weren't sure that the EFF was correct in suggesting the Yes Men's fake U.S. Chamber of Commerce website was a parody, we did think that it was rather short-sighted of the CoC to try to takedown the site, since it would only serve to give the Yes Men and their anti-CoC campaign more attention. Apparently, the folks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce still haven't quite figured this out. They've now gone a step further and are suing the Yes Men for trademark infringement. Again, the trademark claim is probably stronger than the original copyright claim, but this is a really dumb move. All the Yes Men want is more attention in their campaign against the CoC's stance on climate change, and you know what gets them a lot of attention? Getting sued. Of course, given how backwards the Chamber's views on intellectual property are, perhaps it's no surprise that they wouldn't realize how such a plan would backfire.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Mark Harris, Oct 26th, 2009 @ 11:16pm

    Warning! Warning!

    A level 4 Streisand Effect has been initiated! Repeat - We are at Streisand 4! All non-essential personnel should evacuate immediately!

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2009 @ 12:40am

    Apparently, the folks at the Techdirt still haven't quite figured out that if this kind of parody is only a one off then perhaps it does littel damage, but if you set a precedent of doing nothing about it that could easily encourage more and more and quickly render CoC useless.

    You can argue whether they do the right thing at the right time, but to pretend they are making an issue out of nothing only demonstrates your own lack of understanding.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2009 @ 1:32am

    Re:

    Believe me, 'doing something about it' isn't going to stop others from imitating. It isn't going to stop people from doing the same shit. Are you really so dense as to believe otherwise? Litigation seldom stops such things from recurring. Otherwise, the first public execution of a murderer would have set a precedent for the entire race, and there never would have been another.

     

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  4.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 27th, 2009 @ 2:35am

    Re:

    Apparently, the folks at the Techdirt still haven't quite figured out that if this kind of parody is only a one off then perhaps it does littel damage, but if you set a precedent of doing nothing about it that could easily encourage more and more and quickly render CoC useless.

    You know what would encourage this to happen more often? Getting it a ton of attention by filing a lawsuit about it.

    Separately, are you honestly suggesting that the CoC is "rendered useless" by some people doing parodies?!?

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2009 @ 4:09am

    Re: Re:

    Do you seriously believe that sueing people produces no deterent effect ?. If so just google for "chillng effects" and you will gain some usefull understanding.

    Are you also suggesting that with a proliferation of such parodies and publicity there would be no consequence for the efficiency with which the CoC might go about it's business ? is Masnick really so unfamiliar with the power of publicity ?!!!

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2009 @ 4:24am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You mean the CoC does something efficiently now? Oh, that's right, they promote the good of corporations over the good of the public. Sorry, I forgot.

     

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  7.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 27th, 2009 @ 4:41am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Do you seriously believe that sueing people produces no deterent effect ?.

    For pranksters who are doing this on purpose to get as much attention as possible? Yes, I believe that it has no deterrent effect whatsoever, and in fact has the opposite.

    If so just google for "chillng effects" and you will gain some usefull understanding.

    I'm quite familiar with chilling effects, but that applies to something entirely different: to people who aren't just looking for attention. This is something quite different. I don't know how you could confuse the two.

    Are you also suggesting that with a proliferation of such parodies and publicity there would be no consequence for the efficiency with which the CoC might go about it's business ?

    Yes. If the CoC didn't make a big deal out of the parodies and ignored them it could continue to go about its business. Why wouldn't it be able to do so?

    is Masnick really so unfamiliar with the power of publicity ?!!!

    Quite familiar with the power of publicity, obviously. That's why I'm trying to figure out why the CoC would give these groups MORE publicity. You haven't explained that.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2009 @ 6:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "For pranksters .... I believe that it has no deterrent effect whatsoever, and in fact has the opposite."

    So you think pranksters are so stupid they don't care, or so rich they don't have to ?.

    "I'm quite familiar with chilling effects, but ... This is something quite different. ..."

    The familar stance of the denialist of the form "This is a special case because ."

    "...CoC would give these groups MORE publicity. You haven't explained that."

    I thought it was obvious ; it's just the price you have to pay to get what you want.

     

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  9.  
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    ChrisB (profile), Oct 27th, 2009 @ 6:29am

    In some cases ...

    I can imagine some cases where a legitimate website would want to sue fake websites for trademark infringement. For example, say a CDC spoof site had an article about deadly viral pandemic and people panicked.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2009 @ 6:34am

    Bah.
    another pretend journalist entering the fray acting like he isn't trying to help push Obama's agenda.

    Clearly, these "parody" website guys are attacking the CoC, as Obama, and crew have.

    you want transparency? i just gave it to you.

     

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  11.  
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    Jon Bane (profile), Oct 27th, 2009 @ 6:39am

    Re: In some cases ...

    And that is even a different scenario than this. That is the same reason you can't yell "fire" in a theater.

     

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  12.  
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    Jon Bane (profile), Oct 27th, 2009 @ 6:40am

    Grab your tinfoil hats!!!

    Wow.. go from a group being critical of an organization that has historically supported business interest over the consumer to some political conspiracy.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Justin, Oct 27th, 2009 @ 6:44am

    I thought it was real at first

    To me this seemed like a blatant misrepresentation that yes men was from the COC. I will admit I do not know a lot about the topic but I thought it was real for a little bit. I thought the guy entering the room was the fake at first. Even the reporters in the room didn't have a clue what was going on. So yes this maybe a little Streisand effect but when an actually guy from the department asks you who you are and what you are doing and you straight up lie to him, you better get ready for lawsuit.

     

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  14.  
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    Brooks (profile), Oct 27th, 2009 @ 7:56am

    Re:

    So your concern is the CoC being rendered "useless"? Let's look at two scenarios:

    1) They sue Yes Men, generating a ton of press. Every article on CNN, Fox, etc, mentions the organization's climate change denial, the departure of Apple and PG&E, and questions the organization's relevance today. Further, those articles frame the prank as funny and the lawsuit as defensive and bullying.

    2) They do not sue Yes Men, the incident passes into the annals of Internet history, and remains on the fringe of mainstream discourse.

    In which scenario do you think copycat attacks on CoC are more likely? Which scenario pushes CoC closes to uselessness?

    The lawsuit is a knee-jerk move, and the sheer filing of it will backfire. It gets more attention for the problems within CoC, making them harder to fix. It gets more attention to Yes Men, encouraging them to continue. It makes CoC even more controversial, making it more likely additional members will leave rather than participate in a circus.

    And, if EFF wins the case or CoC is forced to withdraw, it's a further PR black eye.

    They're not making an issue out of nothing. They're making a huge strategic PR blunder where there was a minor issue.

    What they should have done: staged a fake Yes Men press conference to apologize and to acknowledge that the prank went to far and was factually inaccurate.

     

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  15.  
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    Brooks (profile), Oct 27th, 2009 @ 8:15am

    Re: I thought it was real at first

    You seem to be suggesting that satire is (or should be) illegal if anybody believes it.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2009 @ 8:18am

    Re: I thought it was real at first

    I hope your real name is Justin, otherwise, you're going to be sued!

     

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  17.  
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    BullJustin (profile), Oct 27th, 2009 @ 8:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So you think pranksters are so stupid they don't care, or so rich they don't have to ?.

    You can't squeeze blood from a turnip. For people in debt, getting sued is little to no deterrent. What's the difference between $100,000 in debt and $10,000,000? Very little when you were never going to be able to pay off the $100K in the first place. The only people who think a lawsuit is a deterrent is the people who have something to lose from a lawsuit.

    I thought it was obvious ; it's just the price you have to pay to get what you want.

    Getting sued is the price publicity stunts pay to get what they want. Getting mocked is the price any public person or organization pays once they begin to draw attention to themselves. Even the Yes Men will get mocked for this stunt, by the less well known yet still attention seeking people and organizations.

     

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  18.  
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    Alan Gerow (profile), Oct 27th, 2009 @ 10:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "So you think pranksters are so stupid they don't care, or so rich they don't have to ?."

    Neither. They are smart and don't care. They are willing to pay in jail time or court fines to get their message out. It's cost of them to get their cause heard to as many people as possible. They can pay $10 million for a 30-second Super Bowl ad, or they can pay 9 months of their life or $100,000 fine or whatever to the court system: either way, more people hear what they have to say. It's the price you have to pay to get what you want.

    "The familar stance of the denialist of the form "This is a special case because .""

    How about this: the chilling effect only has an effect on those people who care more about the effect than the cause. If the effect is acceptable, then it's not going to be that chilling. The Yes Men obviously don't care about lawsuits, jail time, or fines, because they do outlandish publicity stunts all the time. So obviously, they aren't chilled very easily. And for any other group who wants their message heard no matter the outcome, it's not going to be chilling for them either. 100% of the population will not be victim to this "chilling effect", if it was, then the government's War on Drugs would actually be somewhat effective. It's not, so the chilling effect of spending years in jail for smoking pot is obviously not enough to deter tens of millions of adults from taking part every day. You're overestimating the true effect of this chilling.

    "I thought it was obvious"

    It would be if what you were saying actually held up to logic and empirical evidence.

     

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  19.  
    icon
    chillienet (profile), Oct 27th, 2009 @ 3:53pm

    Re: Re:

    "What they should have done: staged a fake Yes Men press conference to apologize and to acknowledge that the prank went to far and was factually inaccurate."

    Brilliant!! Fight fire with fire and all that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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