Using Copyright to Quash Criticism

zillow-mcmansion-effElectronic Frontier Foundation

Kate Wagner runs an architecture criticism blog called McMansion Hell, where she posts pictures and opinions of examples of what she considers poor design. Mostly she criticizes big houses that are meant to appeal buyers’ vanities. A company called the Zillow Group sent her a cease and desist order saying the pictures she was using were protected by copyright and couldn’t be used. She did what most people would do when threatened by the lawyers of a big corporation. She shut down her blog.

That wasn’t the end of it, though. The Electronic Frontier Foundation(EFF) got wind of it and stepped in to defend Ms Wagner against the specious order. They sent a couple of strongly worded letters to Zillow’s lawyers and let them know they weren’t going to get away with their bullying.

EFF staff attorney Daniel Nazer said, “Our client has no obligation to, and thus will not, comply with Zillow’s demands. Zillow’s legal threats are not supported and plainly seek to interfere with protected speech.”

Zillow quickly changed its tune, claiming that they never had any intention of interfering with Ms Wagner’s freedom of expression. They just thought they were protecting the copyright of the owners of the images she was taking from Zillow’s website. The EFF let them know that they were wrong.

EFF’s response called Zillow’s legal complaints “baseless” and its allegations “unfounded and unsupportable” as it laid out a variety of legal arguments for why McMansion Hell and Wagner were not bound by Zillow’s terms of use and why her use of photographs sourced from Zillow are indeed protected by fair use.

The McMansion Hell blog is back up and running and Ms Wagner is breathing easily again. Chalk up another one for the EFF, those heroes who defend our freedoms.

via Zillow drops complaint against ‘McMansion Hell’ blog after backlash over copyright claim – GeekWire

rjb

About arjaybe

Jim has fought forest fires and controlled traffic in the air and on the sea. Now he writes stories.
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2 Responses to Using Copyright to Quash Criticism

  1. emmylgant says:

    Wonderful to know the bullies are being watched AND cut off at the pass.
    Thanks for sharing this bit of good news when freedom of expression is threatened by big money. EFF are heroes.

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