Forget The Cease-and-Desist; Learn To Use The Proceed-and-Permit

from the how-to-respond-to-parody dept

There have been way too many stories over the years of humorless lawyers sending cease-and-desist letters to websites that create parodies involving their brands. Parody, of course, is protected by fair use. That’s why it’s at least a little refreshing to find out that there’s at least one company out there that recognizes that you should respond to parody with parody. The EFF points to the way that Linden Lab, makers of Second Life, responded to a parody site called Get A First Life, by sending a “proceed-and-permit” letter (as described by the guy who created the parody site, Darren Barefoot). The text of the letter is classic, as they mockingly (in the language of a typical cease-and-desist) take offense at the idea that Barefoot would even bother to think that Second Life would dare to send him a cease-and-desist.

“Moreover, Linden Lab objects to any implication that it would employ lawyers incapable of distinguishing such obvious parody. Indeed, any competent attorney is well aware that the outcome of sending a cease-and-desist letter regarding a parody is only to draw more attention to such parody, and to invite public scorn and ridicule of the humor-impaired legal counsel. Linden Lab is well-known for having strict hiring standards, including a requirement for having a sense of humor, from which our lawyers receive no exception.”

Of course, Linden Lab’s lawyers aren’t always so jokey, such as when the company threatened to get people arrested for highlighting their own programming flaws, or when the company opened themselves up to all sorts of legal issues by dragging real world laws into a virtual world where they don’t make much sense. Still, it is nice to see a decent response in this particular case.


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