RTMark admin on Wed, 21 Jun 2000 00:44:58 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> J&R Films vs. BigMissMoviola

To whom it may concern:

After RTMark announced a protest against J&R Films Magnasynch/Moviola last
week, Dana Newman, Moviola's council, sent an e-mail to Miranda July
threatening to seek "all available injunctive relief, compensatory and
punitive damages, costs and attorneys fees" from July as the result of the
protest. As in the case of SLAPP suits and other corporate intimidation
tactics, Newman's threats had no legal validity whatsoever (the protest
actions were undertaken independently by RTMark, and had nothing to do
with July)--but, like many targets of SLAPP suits etc., in the face of the
threats July asked RTMark to call off the protest.

RTMark became involved in this case as a response to the legal tactics
employed by J&R Films against BigMissMoviola.com, which performs a useful
public service. Unfortunately, many individuals and non-profits with
domains on the web have been targeted in a similar manner. Few have the
money to fight a legal battle or defend themselves against such assaults,
and have had to give up their domain names (etoy was lucky: they could
afford the $40,000 it cost them to keep their identity afloat). Some of
the ones who have still not given in to the demands of their agressors,
such as Leonardo Magazine and HealthNet.org, are now engaged in legal
batttles that could drag on for years and are costing them dearly. (See
http://www.rtmark.com/netabuse.html for a few more examples.)

For her sake and the sake of others in similar situations, we sincerely
hope that Miranda July can protect her domain against this assault by J&R
Films, even without recourse to public protest. Legally, of course, J&R
Films does not have a leg to stand on:

1. It is impossible to confuse Moviola.com with BigMissMoviola.com. The
two websites are not engaged in the same business, and BigMissMoviola.com
is not a commercial website, as the J&R films counsel misleadingly asserts
in conversations with Wired Magazine.

2. The Patent and Trademark Office has in the past granted Trademarks for
brick-and-mortar companies who use the word "moviola" in their name, but
do not make editing equipment. "Moviola Repertory Cinema", a movie house
in Cincinnati, and "The Moviola Cafe", a restaurant, are two such examples
that constitute a legal precedent for other companies using the word

But the real questions are not about legalities. Like etoy, Leonardo
Magazine, and HealthNet.org, if Miranda July can afford the court costs
and attorneys' fees required to defend herself against this specious
assault, she will almost certainly win in court--and that, unfortunately,
is a very big "if." And if J&R films follows the usual corporate path and
forces July to either spend that money or lose her domain, it will be one
more example of corporate abuse of power and disdain for public services,
and that much less hope for others in similar circumstances. And that's a
much, much smaller "if."


Turning information resources into emotional capital.

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