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Parody Website Back Online After Settlement of Bogus IP Claims

PRESS RELEASE
February 2, 2009
Site Challenges Redevelopment Efforts for NYC Landmark

New York - An activist was able to relaunch her online campaign today after claims were settled out of court for the shutting down of her website challenging redevelopment efforts in New York City's historic Union Square.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) represented website creator Savitri Durkee, an activist concerned with preserving the character of Union Square and Union Square Park. A copyright lawsuit and other legal action brought by Union Square Partnership (USP), a group backing extensive redevelopment of the area, led to a nearly six-month shutdown of Durkee's site.

"I'm very pleased to have my parody back online," said Durkee. "Abolitionists, suffragettes, civil rights activists, and many others have exercised their First Amendment rights in Union Square. It's important that we have uncensored debate about what comes next for this historic landmark."

As part of the settlement, Union Square Partnership agreed to dismiss its claims in exchange for Durkee's promise to transfer the original domain names, to use disclaimers, and to refrain from impersonating USP board members by name. Durkee remains free to parody USP via other domain names, as long as the new domain doesn't use the organization's name alone.

"This is a good result for our client and the people of New York who have some big decisions to make about Union Square," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "The Internet has revolutionized political activism, allowing everyone to have his or her say on a global platform. Parody is an important part of America's free speech tradition, and with her online parody Ms. Durkee brings this protected form of criticism into our digital age."

The law firms Mayer Brown LLP and Gross & Belsky LLP were co-counsel in this case.

For the new parody website:
http://www.weareunionsquare.org

For the full settlement agreement:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/usp_v_durkee/USP-Durkee-SettlementAgreement-signed.pdf

Contacts:

Corynne McSherry
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
corynne@eff.org

Matt Zimmerman
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mattz@eff.org

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