The New York Times is rattling their legal sabers at a blogger who posted a parody corrections page, causing his ISP to force him to remove the post under threat of the DMCA. Looks like the Times is less upset about the parody and more about the fact that its author, Robert Cox of The National Debate blog, copied their HTML verbatim including live links to the nytimes.com website and banner ads. Worse yet, he included (horrors!) instructions on how to create your own parody page. I won’t reprint the instructions here for fear of legal repercussions, but it involves use of the “view source” menu option and a text editor. Even so, as Kevin Drum at Calpundit posted, “you’d think the publisher of the Pentagon Papers would show a little more respect for free speech and a little more tolerance for criticism.”
I’d add that you’d think after the Fox News v. Franken debacle the Times would realize trying to suppress a parody online is like smashing a blob of Mercury. As is becoming the standard for rerouting around censorship on the Net, Cox posted the following on his site:
While I want to “fight the good fight”, discretion is still the better part of valor and so I feel compelled to take down my parody of a New York Times Columnist Correction page. I have not, however, given up.
Today, I am announcing the creation of THE NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST CORRECTION POLICY PROJECT. I am looking for volunteers who are willing to mirror my fake Times web page. The original page will serve as a directory to the mirrored sites. I will list the home page and the mirror page of all project participants. For those who get a “cease and desist” letter from The Times I would ask you to avoid a conflict with The Times and remove the page. I will then list your home page in the “Fallen Heroes” page.
So far he has 14 mirrors spanning four countries, and more importantly the fight is starting to get reported in the mainstream media. To quote Cox, “Whoever said ‘never get into an argument with people who buy ink by the barrel’ never heard of the Blogosphere.”