Faxploitation: Best Press Release Headline of the Week

We tip our hats to San Francisco’s Electronic Frontier Foundation, defender of e-civil liberties, for bringing some light into the dreary task of sorting incoming press releases with this little gem: “EFF Accepts Barney’s Surrender — Purple Dinosaur Backs Off and Pays Up; Free Speech Rights Preserved.” Yes, it’s actually a real case — the EFF just got Barney’s copyright owners to withdraw a suit against Stuart Frankel, a New York man who put up a parody Web site describing what he suppposed was the purple dino’s secret double life as an agent of evil. According to the EFF’s response to the lawsuit, this included images of Barney “with horns, sharp teeth, a pentagram, and the number ‘666’ embalzoned on his chest.” (If you check out his Web site now, there’s nary an image of Barney, although amongst the tidbits about clavicord construction, Javanese cooking, and Spanish baroque organ music, Frankel does have this to say: “About The Barney Affair: This is my little corner of the web, and the bullies can’t have it. There’s nothing more to it than that.” The EFF’s full press release after the jump.

    Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Release
    For Immediate Release: Tuesday, November 28, 2006

    EFF Accepts Barney’s Surrender
    Purple Dinosaur Backs Off and Pays Up; Free Speech Rights

    San Francisco – The corporate owners of the popular
    children’s television character Barney the Purple Dinosaur
    have agreed to withdraw their baseless legal threats
    against a website publisher who parodied the character and
    to compensate him for fees expended in defending himself.

    The agreement settles a suit filed by the Electronic
    Frontier Foundation (EFF) in August on behalf of Dr. Stuart
    Frankel against Lyons Partnership, owners of the Barney
    character. Frankel received repeated, meritless
    cease-and-desist letters from Lyons, claiming his online
    parody violated copyright and trademark law. EFF’s suit
    asked the court to declare that Frankel’s parody was a
    noninfringing fair use protected by the First Amendment.

    “We wish we hadn’t had to file a lawsuit to finally get
    Barney’s lawyers to stop harassing a man who was just
    expressing his opinion about a cultural phenomenon,” said
    EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. “Hopefully Lyons
    Partnership has learned its lesson and will have more
    respect for fair use in the future.”

    This settlement is the latest development in EFF’s ongoing
    campaign to protect online free speech from the chilling
    effects of bogus copyright claims. Earlier this month, EFF
    filed suit against Michael Crook — a man who claimed
    copyright infringement in an effort to censor his online

    “Those who misuse copyright should know that they can be
    sued for doing so,” said McSherry. “This settlement should
    send a message to those who want to use copyright law as a
    pretext for censorship.”

    EFF was assisted in this case by Elizabeth Rader, James
    d’Auguste, and Brian Carney, attorneys with the firm of
    Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP, which is defending
    Dr. Frankel’s free speech rights on a pro bono basis.

    For the original complaint:

    For more on Barney’s copyright abuses:

    For this release:

    About EFF

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading civil
    liberties organization working to protect rights in the
    digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF actively encourages and
    challenges industry and government to support free
    expression and privacy online. EFF is a member-supported
    organization and maintains one of the most linked-to
    websites in the world at http://www.eff.org/

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