« Anesthesiologist Agrees to Judgment and Permanent Injunction | Main | China Law Blog Explains Agent Exception to China's First-to-File Trademark Rule »

Striking Writers Chide Producers with Protest Web Site

AMPTP%20logo2.jpgThe Los Angeles Times today reported that Hollywood’s striking writers have acquired the amptp.com and amptp.net domain names and launched a Web site that protests the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios in the parties’ labor dispute. AMPTP’s official site is associated with amptp.org.

The story begins with the observation: “When the Hollywood studios say they don’t know enough about the Internet to pay writers what they seek for the streaming and downloading of their shows, they might not be kidding.”


The protest site, which looks like the producers’ official site, states the Alliance was “heartbroken” that negotiations with the writers had failed “despite our best efforts, including sending them a muffin basket, making them a mixed CD and standing outside their window with a boombox blasting Peter Gabriel songs.” It also features links to news stories supporting the writers.

The story quotes me as saying I didn’t see a problem with the writers using the Alliance’s trademark in a domain name as long as the Web site is a protest site and doesn’t cause consumer confusion: “It’s perfectly defensible for a disgruntled party to use someone else’s trademark if the purpose is to protest. It would be improper only if the writers were attempting to confuse the public or sell something.”

Having now had the chance to see the site, it’s clear the site is protected as free speech. And, since it doesn’t sell anything, it does not even implicate the Lanham Act because it is not “commercial.” Even if it were commercial, I don’t think confusion is likely given the site’s lampooning content. If the writers nonetheless wanted to minimize possible liability, they could provide a disclaimer and link to the Alliance’s official site, per Taubman Co. v. Webfeats, 319 F.3d 770 (6th Cir. 2003). As a non-commercial site, however, likelihood of confusion shouldn’t enter into the analysis.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.