Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Exodus bullies blogger over parody

From the ACLU:

SAN FRANCISCO -- Citing First Amendment protection for parodies, the American Civil Liberties Union today came to the defense of a California man who received a cease-and-desist letter after posting a parody of a billboard advertisement for so-called "reparative therapy" on his website.


The billboard, sponsored by "ex-gay" ministry Exodus International, read, "Gay? Unhappy?" After seeing a photo of the billboards online, Watt posted an altered version reading, "Straight? Unhappy?" on his website, Liberty Counsel, an anti-gay legal group representing Exodus, sent Watt a cease-and-desist letter earlier this month claiming the parody violated Exodus's intellectual property rights and threatening legal action if the parodies were not removed.


The American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association and other mainstream mental health and medical groups have denounced reparative therapy, stating that there is no evidence that reparative therapy is successful and that the practice may in fact be harmful to those who undergo it.

"Justin's use of Exodus's own image to criticize its message is exactly the sort of speech the Constitution protects," said Pulgram, who heads the copyright litigation group at Fenwick & West. "The law protects people like Justin from groups like Exodus that try to use copyright as a method of bullying their critics into abandoning their First Amendment right to express their opinions through parody."

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