Walmart Not Horsing Around With Parody Domain Site

from the neigh dept

Walmart. Just saying the company's name is usually enough to evoke unbidden brain-sounds of terrifying organ music and images of pitchfork-wielding devil-imps. But, hey, it's a large business that's been around for quite a while, so I guess it's doing alright. It seems to me that somebody might want to call a meeting with the Walmart legal brain trust, because the company's campaign against a silly and simple parody website isn't achieving much of anything at all, and is in fact Streisanding the parody site into national views.

This story starts back in 2012, when ICANN saw fit to hold a firesale on domain extensions. Buying them up was all the rage for reasons unfathomable to this author. Still, that was the impetus for how we arrived at Walmart going after a site with a .horse extension.

That explains why, for the mere price of $29, you can now purchase a .horse domain name, if you want to do such a thing. "With .HORSE, there are no hurdles between equine enthusiasts on the Internet," says United Domains. "Giddy up and register .HORSE today!" It doesn't seem like too many people have been receptive to this pun-based sales pitch, but a 34-year-old named Jeph Jacques saw the opportunity for what he calls an "art project."

"I thought, 'Alright I'm gonna buy this and do something stupid with it and see what happens," he told me. And readers, he did just that.
This grand art project? Buying up the domain www.walmart.horse, slapping a picture of the front of a Walmart store with a, you guessed it, horse superimposed over the top, and declaring the whole thing a monumental artistic success. Seriously, this is the only thing at the website if you go there.

Monet it might not be, but the image is suddenly competing with the likes of famous artists for attention and views thanks to Walmart freaking the hell out about it. In its infamous wisdom, Walmart and its crackerjack legal team have demanded that the whole shebang be taken down, claiming infringement of trademark. The C&D letter Walmart helpfully sent along suggested that Jacques' website would confuse customers into thinking that Walmart, who is not in either the business of horses nor in the business of having a sense of humor, might have some affiliation to walmart.horse. Interestingly, the letter targets the domain name, rather than the image on the site itself. I'm not personally aware of any infringement claim on domain name being refuted by the actual extension used, but this would seem to be a ripe candidate for that argument, given that Walmart is not in the horse business.

But this really shouldn't even get that far, given the whole purpose of the site itself and the artistic nature of the creator.

Jacques argues that his site is "an obvious parody and therefore falls under fair use." He also told Walmart in his response that he'd be happy to put a disclaimer on his site to let visitors know he is not actually affiliated with the Waltons. And although he doesn't want to bow to the company just yet, he says he's already proved his original hypothesis: that corporations spend an absurd amount of time policing their trademarks.
Point proven, I suppose. Meanwhile, a tiny joke site has been Streisanded into the national conversation because Walmart just couldn't resist.

Filed Under: domains, horse, jeph jacques, parody, streisand effect, trademark
Companies: walmart


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  • icon
    M. Alan Thomas II (profile), 11 Mar 2015 @ 8:05pm

    Wait, THAT Jeph Jacques? . . . Huh.

    Antagonizing people who already have a fan base probably accelerates the Streisand Effect.

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

  • icon
    ysth (profile), 11 Mar 2015 @ 10:47pm

    You can support Jeph's work at https://www.patreon.com/jephjacques

    (or you can just go there to get a feel for the size of his fan base)

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

  • identicon
    mr. papercuts, 12 Mar 2015 @ 12:14am

    I dont understand why this article has such a tone of condescension towards exactly the kind of freedom from copyright expression that this .horse site situation embodies. Is the .horse art project really so dumb, when it represents exactly the way that the average, fumbling-their-way-into-artistic-expression everyman bumps up against corporate copyright censorship?

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

    • icon
      Dark Helmet (profile), 12 Mar 2015 @ 3:25am

      Re:

      Didn't really mean to imply condescension. Jeph's walmart.horse project isn't dumb, it's just kind of a simple little thing that should have been glossed over by Walmart.

      I know this is going to sound insulting as well when I don't mean it to be, but the .horse thing isn't "dumb", it's just kind of "insignificant"....

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2015 @ 2:24am

    techdirt.horse when?

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 12 Mar 2015 @ 3:51am

    Cue the zoo reaction. Next in the news: Walmart registers www.walmart.goat to avoid further... Dillution of the brand.

    Related video and tip for content to put in the new site: https://youtu.be/varlFj0W6UA

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

  • icon
    Rambler330 (profile), 12 Mar 2015 @ 4:09am

    Walkmart Logo

    Perhaps they should go after the marketing team that came up with the Walmart logo.
    It is very similar to the international symbol for asshole.

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

  • icon
    afn29129 (profile), 12 Mar 2015 @ 4:19am

    walmartDOTjackass

    walmartDOTjackass

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2015 @ 5:14am

    walmart.legal

    Are you in need of discount legal help?
    Is your name being used in a way you dislike?
    Do you want to bring more attention to the problem?

    Then visit Walmart.legal where our discount lawyers will file questionable lawsuits cheaper than anyone else. We guarantee or prices are lower than any competitors, if you find a cheaper price we will best it by 10%!

    Listen to these testimonials:
    "They helped me hide pictures of my house" -Barbra Streisand
    "Walmart.legal below us hide encryption keys from those dam pirates!" -MPAA/AACS
    "When videos of our most brainwashed member Tom Cruise showed up on the Internet Walmart.legal unleashed a can of whoop ass!" -Church of Scientology

    Discount legal advice is selling out fast! Get it while supplies last, visit Walmart.legal now!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2015 @ 5:59am

    neigh

    NEIGH!

    Varlets! Villains! Equine quadrupeds!

    Neigh, say it is not so!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2015 @ 6:24am

    Walmart.*

    So Walmart should actively be buying all domains. Walmart.sex, Walmart.xxx, .... Good luck getting Walmart.dev since .dev will be a google only domain.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2015 @ 8:52am

      Re: Walmart.*

      ...Walmart.sex, Walmart.xxx...


      OMG do I even want to go there?

      If those are even close to 'People of Walmart'...

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2015 @ 9:02am

        Re: Re: Walmart.*

        "Attention Walmart shoppers: We are currently having a red light special in the changing rooms. Use the online coupon available from our website to save an additional 20% off the sale price."

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

  • identicon
    Michael, 12 Mar 2015 @ 6:25am

    I just went to my local Walmart store and they apparently do not sell horses. Stupid confusing site.

    I was ready to buy a discount horse that wasn't going to be very durable, would probably end up with most of it's fair falling out in the first year, and would need custom shoes that could only be purchased at Walmart stores.

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

    • icon
      jupiterkansas (profile), 12 Mar 2015 @ 7:57am

      Re:

      My horse went to Walmart and asked the cashier if they sold horseshoes. The cashier said, "Neigh!"

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2015 @ 8:11am

      Re:

      There needs to be a rash of YouTube videos of people going into Walmart stores everywhere pretending to be "confused" trying to buy horses. THAT would be funny.

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

      • identicon
        Pragmatic, 12 Mar 2015 @ 8:32am

        Re: Re:

        That would make Jeph Jacques's art project more interesting. I daresay this kerfuffle was the actual plan, phase one.

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

  • icon
    nasch (profile), 12 Mar 2015 @ 7:31am

    "Alright" is not a word.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2015 @ 7:45am

    Talk to the Registry (not the one you're thinking of...)

    Silly Walmart. That horse's registered name is WAL Mart (the WAL standing for the initials of the breeder and the "Mart" being a compilation of both sire and dam names). Therefore, the site is merely advertising the owner's animal. The Registry obviously had no issue with the name. Sorry, Walmart, you have no case.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2015 @ 8:08am

    Someone needs to explain to the legal team at Walmart that there are some pitches you just don't swing at. This is one of them.

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

  • icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 12 Mar 2015 @ 8:14am

    Heh

    This is literally the first time that I've gone to any site bearing those stupid new TLDs. It'll probably be the only time.

    For the record, that site is hilarious.

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

  • identicon
    Pragmatic, 12 Mar 2015 @ 8:28am

    The artist put the wrong end of the horse on the pic.

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

  • identicon
    Michael, 12 Mar 2015 @ 9:02am

    A horse is a horse, of course, of course,
    And no one would think that this horse is a store
    Except, of course, for lawyers who work for the famous Wal-Mart brand.

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

  • identicon
    monkyyy, 12 Mar 2015 @ 9:13am

    sell the domain for a few thousand dollars

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

  • identicon
    Erbo, 12 Mar 2015 @ 10:39am

    I could add another comment to this story...

    but that would just be beating a dead...well, you know...

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

  • icon
    nbcart (profile), 12 Mar 2015 @ 11:44am

    The flag in the picture belongs to Nova Scotia, Canada. :-)

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

  • identicon
    Ronald J Riley, 12 Mar 2015 @ 2:17pm

    Subdomains

    The site owner should add additional sub domains such has ass.walmart.horse. Perhaps a picture with the horse, and then a turd and under that and a face. Or maybe just the back end of the same horse, no doubt people would figure out the meaning.

    An endless number of opportunities exist.

    Too bad Walmart cannot hire Dozier, he croaked after watching his pathetic law office disintegrate. As far as I can tell he only had one client after I put up the web site mocking him in response to his bogus demand letters.

    My advice to Walmart, apologize and maybe offer to make a handsome charitable donation as a gesture of good will. Public Citizen comes to mind as a good candidate.

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

    • icon
      Sheogorath (profile), 14 Mar 2015 @ 12:59pm

      Re: Subdomains

      Honest, honorable, intelligent, well mannered, battle worn veterans of the world rarely participate in online dialogue because of the attacks their participation invites. And so you get a very one sided, jaded, biased perspective on Internet law and policy issues.
      John Dozier, the idiot who said the above? If it wasn't for the fact he's already dead, I'd say he needs to quit drinking the Kool-Aid!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2015 @ 2:48pm

    To streisand is now a verb?
    Streisanding and streisanded were both used in the story.
    I like it.

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

  • icon
    finwake (profile), 12 Mar 2015 @ 7:25pm

    Art!

    Well in the spirit of Andy Warhal: this tastes like Campbell's Soup.
    And I aint horsin' around!

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

  • identicon
    walmartone login, 22 Feb 2018 @ 7:48am

    hi

    thanks for the share.

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


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