Jarrar free speech t-shirt case settled

In 2006 the Transportation Security Administration and JetBlue demanded Raed Jarrar to sit at the back of a 2006 flight from New York to Oakland because his shirt read “We Will Not Be Silent” in English and Arabic (According to a civil rights lawsuit) one TSA official commented that the Arabic lettering was akin to wearing a T-shirt at a bank stating, “I am a robber.”

As a protest you can now buy t-shirts with the text – “I am not a terrorist” written in Arabic – all profits will be sent to the ACLU. Get them here.

TSA officials and JetBlue Airways are paying $240,000 to settle (.pdf) a discrimination lawsuit against a District of Columbia man who, as a condition of boarding a domestic flight, was forced to cover his shirt that displayed Arabic writing (via Wired).

For other examples with free expressions and clothing see Are we losing out right to dissent? and Are we secure yet?

Harry Potter Lexicon – the sequel

Remember the court battle between Rowlings and the publishers of the Harry Potter Lexicon? Well much like the books and films this court case will not go away either. This was on the blog Recording Industry vs. the People:

“Copyright and Fair Use” at Stanford Law School reports that the defendant publisher, RDR Books, has filed an appeal from the Judge’s decision in Warner Bros. Pictures v. RDR Books, the case involving the Harry Patter Lexicon.

The Judge, after a bench trial, issued an injunction and statutory damages of $6750 holding that the Lexicon was not protected by fair use due to (a) sloppiness in attribution in sections, (b) the length of some of the quotes, and (c) imitation of J.K. Rowling’s writing style in portions.

I recently wrote an article criticizing the opinion, but doubting that an appeal would be taken in view of the small damages award.

Just goes to show that even court cases have sequels…

Wikimedia not liable for online defamation

In the case of Bauer v. Wikimedia et al, a New Jersey judge has dismissed defamation claims against the operator of Wikipedia (ruling).

From the EFF blog:

This case began when literary agent Barbara Bauer sued Wikimedia, claiming the organization was liable for statements identifying her as one of the “dumbest of the twenty worst” agents and that she had “no documented sales at all.” EFF and the law firm of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton represented Wikimedia, and moved to dismiss the case in May, arguing that under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, operators of “interactive computer services” such as Wikipedia cannot be held liable for users’ comments.

User generated sites are going to get (and have gotten) involved in defamation-like cases and it is necessary that the parent company should have some form of immunity even if such immunity can be abused. It’s nice to see that it worked in this case.

Another question is whether or not calling someone the “dumbest” can be considered to be defamatory at all…