May 15, 2009 | By corynne mcsherry

Six Simple Steps You Can Take To Protect Your Gripe or Parody Site

Here’s a story we hear a lot at EFF: You think BadCo, Inc. is a bad actor and you’ve developed a really cool site to tell the world why. Maybe just by griping about them or maybe through a bit of parody. Fast forward two weeks: you’re basking in the pleasure of calling BadCo out when bam! You find out your site’s been shut down. You call your internet service provider to find out what’s going on. After way too much time climbing phone trees and sitting on hold you get an answer—Badco has claimed that your site violates its intellectual property rights.

All too often, the targets of critics and parodists try to strike back with accusations of copyright or trademark infringement. While such accusations may be something of a badge of honor--after all, at the very least, it means you've got your target's attention--they can also be frustrating and intimidating. And, if you rely on a service provider with little interest in protecting free speech, allegations of infringement can result in your site being shut down with little or no warning.

Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to either preempt or significantly dilute gripes about your gripe (or parody) site. We lay out those steps in a new white-paper, Avoiding Gripes About Your Gripe (or Parody) Site. To be clear, you don't have to follow any of these suggestions to have a perfectly legal site, and following them won't guarantee you won't get complaints. But taking these steps should help minimize your legal risk, so you can focus on the primary task of raising public awareness about the issues that are important to you. And if you get hit with improper legal threats anyway? Well, you know where to find us.


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