Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chicago Tribune files to seize domain of Occupy publication

Occupy Chicago Press Committee

On May 24, the Tribune Company filed a Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) proceeding against the Occupied Chicago Tribune via the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) regarding the domains and

This is only the latest step in the Tribune Company’s ongoing attempt to intimidate or otherwise silence the Occupied Chicago Tribune, despite what is agreed by multiple legal experts as a complete lack of any legal grounding.

If the UDRP complaint is successful, the WIPO panel would order the transfer of the Occupy domains to the Tribune Company. The Occupied Chicago Tribune will appeal to the panel to dismiss the complaint.

“It astonishes us that a company still in Chapter 11 bankruptcy and laying off its own journalists would choose to spend its resources this way,” says Nick Burt, one of the publication's co-founders. “Our critique has been that big media corporations like the Tribune Company represent the interests of the 1%, and here, they've provided us with yet another supportive example.”

The complaint over the domain name is the second attempt by the Tribune Company to squash the Occupied Chicago Tribune. Following the publication of its first issue last December, contributors received threats of litigation from an attorney representing the Tribune Company, culminating in the demand that the publication be renamed—and that any alternative title must not begin with the letter T. Attorneys representing the Occupied Chicago Tribune dismissed the claims as encroachments on the group's First Amendment rights, and the Tribune Company apparently abandoned the effort.

“There is no likelihood of confusion between the Chicago Tribune and the Occupied Chicago Tribune, due to difference in name, font, format and distribution,” says attorney Ben Elson
of the People's Law Office. “The Occupied Chicago Tribune website specifically states that the publication has no affiliation with the Chicago Tribune or Tribune Company. The Occupied Chicago Tribune constitutes political speech, protected by the First Amendment, since it is clear the use of the name "Occupied Chicago Tribune" is a parody, criticism and commentary on the Chicago Tribune.”

The Occupied Chicago Tribune is one of several Occupy publications across the country; others include the Occupied Wall Street Journal, the Occupied Oakland Tribune, and the Occupied Washington Times.

The Occupied Chicago Tribune is a volunteer-run publication that covers activism and organizing in the city, the local Occupy movement, and issues of public interest. Recent pieces have included profiles of local efforts to prevent evictions and foreclosures, coverage of the NATO summit protests, reports on actions to block public school closures, and media criticism. The paper is distributed for free at Occupy Chicago and other activist events and at drop-off locations throughout the city.

Read Nick Burt’s editorial, “The Chicago Tribune Tries to Take Our Website”:

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