22 December 2005

Blogger in the News

Google, who owns Blogger, which makes this blog possible, has been sued by Jews For Jesus. Their beef? A Jews For Jesus critic got the http://jewsforjesus.blogspot.com address, not them.

There doesn't appear to be any allegation that the posts are false. Basically, Jews For Jesus is making a trademark claim. But, on the other hand, as this case involves a critic, for which fair use and free speech considerations apply, rather than, for example, a splinter group from Jews For Jesus or a cyber squatter, who is simply trying to extort Jews For Jesus to pay for the address, it is a claim that deserves considerable skepticism. Does use of a Jews For Jesus name for your organization (which may or may not be a registered trademark, their website, http://www.jewsforjesus.org, doesn't claim a trademark of any kind), entitle you to prohibit everyone from using every web address with Jews For Jesus or variations on that in it? Is there are possibility of confusion when one click makes it clear that the user is not Jews For Jesus and doesn't claim to be? I think not. For example, can they prohibit someone from establishing a Wikipedia article about their organization that uses their name in its address? Free speech is chilled if we must all go around talking about "The Organization Who May Not Be Named." We particularly must be wary of court intervention into speech when it is part of a larger Jewish-Christian religious debate. (More background on the Jews For Jesus controversy in general is found here). The gravamen of a trademark violation is fraud and that simply doesn't appear to be present in this case.

Also, given the way Blogger is configured, it isn't clear that Google, as opposed to the person who established the blog, user "Whistle Blower" (who admittedly may not be possible to locate), should have any responsibility in the suit. Google is like a bank left holding a disputed account with no real interest in the outcome except that it be left alone.

At any rate, it is a case to keep an eye on, and this time, the Drudge Report does deserve credit for calling attention to it.

No comments: