Monday, January 9, 2012

BANG sends Occupy protesters a cease and desist

The Occupy Oakland protesters have created a webpage called "Occupy Oakland Tribune" and the owner of the Tribune, instead of just ignoring it, has sent the protesters a cease and desist letter. The protesters have fired back with the following news release.
    Occupied Oakland Tribune refuses to be intimidated by the Bay Area News Group 
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
    Oakland, California - January 7, 2012 - The Bay Area News Group (BANG), publisher of the Oakland Tribune newspaper, sent a cease and desist letter yesterday to Scott Johnson of the Occupied Oakland Tribune which was met with an immediate rejection. 
    “There is no way we are going to be intimidated by the Bay Area News Group,” Johnson said. “This is just another effort by the 1% to push around the 99%. While Oakland City Hall continues arresting people on Oscar Grant Plaza for no reason, the Bay Area News Group is now attempting to quash our First Amendment rights. This has got to stop.” 
    In their cease and desist letter, BANG declared that the Occupied Oakland Tribune’s use of “the Oakland Tribune’s trademarks tarnishes and diminishes the value of these famous names.” But these arguments will hold no water in a court of law, much less in the court of public opinion.
    There is no possibility of consumer confusion between the Occupied Oakland Tribune (OOT) and the Oakland Tribune (OT). The OOT uses a different format, graphics, font and layout than the OT. The banner of the OOT clearly distinguishes itself as “Occupied,” referencing Occupy Oakland and the 99%. The OOT is not sold in the same locations that the OT is sold because it is not, in fact, sold at all, but given away for free at protests and events organized by Occupy Oakland. Oakland readers are sophisticated enough to tell the difference between these two extremely different publications. Additionally, since the OOT is not sold, trademark law does not apply. 
    The OOT is a commentary on the OT and mainstream media in general. It has social and cultural value and the name “Occupied Oakland Tribune” in this instance falls under fair use. BANG’s cease and desist letter is an absurd attack on First Amendment rights against the protected political speech of the OOT. 
    The Oakland-based civil rights law firm Siegel & Yee has agreed to represent Johnson and the Occupied Oakland Tribune on a pro bono basis. Mr. Johnson and his attorney, Michael Siegel, expect to submit a formal response to the cease and desist letter in the coming weeks. 
    “We are not afraid of a lawsuit,” Johnson said, “and we are confident that a court would issue sanctions against BANG if they attempted to sue.” 
    “The struggle of the 99% will not be stopped. We’re here and we aren’t going anywhere.”
    Contact: Scott Johnson, Occupied Oakland Tribune occupiedoaktrib@gmail.com www.occupiedoaktrib.org Michael Siegel, Siegel & Yee (510) 839-1200 x207, michael@siegelyee.com www.siegelyee.com 
    DISCLAIMER: The contents of this press release only reflect those who issued it as lists in the contacts section. It does not reflect the official positions of Occupy Oakland unless specifically indicated.
Here is a link to BANG's C&D letter. If BANG (the Bay Area News Group, controlled by MediaNews Group of Denver) wishes to reply, the Press Club will be post that, too.

2 comments:

Fred Dodsworth said...

Hilarious. BANG certainly hasn't handled this well. The Chronicle is currently posting articles authored by both Berkeleyside and North Oakland, the Trib would be wise to take a look at OOT and see if there wasn't an opportunity to work with them rather than play the jackbooted thug in this situation, but MediaNews Group too frequently fails to look beyond its nose to see the ever changing world.

james o. clifford said...

"Oscar Grant Plaza?" This press release shows why the public needs professional journalists who at least try to avoid bias. Still, it is news that could have been buried if not for advances in technology. The MLM (Major League Media) still sets the agenda but it can no longer limit it. Occupy is a great example. It grew fast because it was well covered. Yet 35,000 people matched in San Francisco last year and were largely ignored by the media. It's still the forest and the falling tree.