Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Jehova's Sue Website Out of Embarrassment

Back in June I wrote on how a site called was pressured by the American Jehova's Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society (WTBTS) to take down its Canadian website that contains various quotes from works published by WTBTS in an attempt to illustrate some of the failed prophecies that organisation has made over the years. The pressure cooker used by the WTBTS was the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and resulted in the ISP taking down the site for a short moment. I thought it was interesting in that it showed how the notice & take down system of the DMCA and (unfounded) legal threats may result in silencing speech without judicial review.

Apparently that judicial review is on its way now: the site has been sued by the WTBTS in the Ontario Superior Court. Claims are copyright infringement of the original WTBTS texts, trademark violations in the URL and breaking End User License Agreements (EULAs) of the WTBTS' CD-ROMS where the quotes were taken from. Most revealing is the claim that also blows the cover of this suit, embarrassment of the WTBTS:
[Paragraph] 31. The Defendant's main purpose in operating the website is not "fair use", but rather to try to embarrass the Plaintiffs by quoting selectively from some of the Religious Works in a manner that misleads Internet users as to the teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses
I thought selective quoting, rather than plain copying of the whole text, is exactly in line with fair use for the purpose of criticism. And whatever can be said of the alleged copyright infringement, trademark violations, EULAs breaching claims, it seems like poor litigation to drag embarrassmentment into te claim. I don't think it takes the air out of this lawsuit, but it does not make the Jehova's claims anymore believable. Like their faith, might say.
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Later Law professor Michael Geist has more on the lawsuit at his site:

In breaking down the fair dealing argument, it is difficult to see how the trademark complaints are relevant to the analysis. Similarly, the absence of restrictions on the site and the availability of a search engine don't provide compelling reasons to lose a user right. The remaining two issues, which amount to claims of too much copying, will likely be the bigger questions and they turn on a legal analysis of evidence yet to be presented. A cursory review suggests that much of the content would be viewed as fair dealing since there are a large number of limited length quotations that would benefit from the SCC's [Supreme Court of Canada-RL] liberal interpretation of fair dealing.

- - - news on the lawsuit
Statement of Claim
The Inquirer


Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for the link...didn't know this site existed..awesome site

19/9/05 10:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thought you might appreciate an update on this case. The WT basically won. He had to turn the domain over to the WTBTS. It's all over google now. Just enter Peter Mosier.

~over and out~

31/12/05 02:03  
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22/1/06 22:10  
Anonymous SpiritualBrother said...

Is the Watchtower a religion or a book printing business?

16/9/09 07:14  

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