Friday, January 05, 2007

Spocko's Story

Spocko is in my blogroll (though his blog, Spocko's Brain, is currently dead, for reasons that will become clear.) Spocko recently had an adventure:

The Walt Disney Company has sent a cease-and-desist letter to the blogger and media critic "Spocko," effectively closing down his Web site, Spocko's Brain, after the online muckraker instigated a letter-writing campaign that caused national advertisers including Visa and MasterCard to flee the Bay Area ABC-affiliate radio station KSFO.

KSFO features hard right-wing talk show hosts who endorse torture and mock the tortured, called for the public hangings of New York Times editor Bill Keller and other journalists, and demand that callers mock Islam. They also mock their own advertisers, calling Chevrolet "sh!tty" and recommending that Sears' Diehard battery be attached to an African-American's testicles.

Spocko (a pseudonym for the blogger, who does not want to be identified), recorded the station's programming and posted audio files on his site, calling attention to the hate speech. He also began sending letters to advertisers on KSFO, including AT&T, Bank of America, Visa, MasterCard and others, pointing out the station's content and directing them to his blog to hear proof, via his audio files.

Since Spocko began contacting advertisers, they have departed KSFO in droves.

Netflix, MasterCard, Bank of America, and most recently, Visa have pulled their advertising from the station. According to Spocko, Federal Express, AT&T and Kaiser Permanente are weighing their departure as well.

Now, Disney is fighting back.

The Friday before Christmas, Dec. 22, ABC Radio sent a cease-and-desist order to Spocko and his Internet Service Provider, 1&1 Internet, claiming unauthorized use of copyrighted material.

Neil Simpkins, spokesperson for ISP provider 1&1 Internet, says his company received the same letter from ABC Radio that was sent to Spocko's Brain, citing unauthorized use of copyrighted material. He says 1&1 gave Spocko one week to pull the material, and when he did not, the ISP pulled his site Jan. 2.

In legal terms the battle is about what "fair use" means. But I don't think Disney's reputation is enhanced by this at all. You can find more on the whole topic in this Kos diary.