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January 10th, 2007

“The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.”

Via Steve Gilliard

News Analysis: Blogosphere Trumps Old Media In Disney/Spocko Dustup
by Tom Siebert, Tuesday, Jan 9, 2007 6:00 AM ET

THE WALT DISNEY CO.’S FAILURE to suppress access to controversial audio files from its ABC Radio affiliate KSFO is a textbook example of the impossibility of controlling the marketplace of ideas in the digital age.

Like a swarm of tiny locusts overwhelming a massive mouse, it was fascinating to watch the blogosphere unite in defense of the online media critic Spocko last weekend. Disney had sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Web site Spocko’s Brain and its ISP, 1&1, after the online muckraker taped segments of KSFO’s morning talk show, posted them on his site, and invited the station’s advertisers to listen.

What they heard was drive-time hosts endorse torture, insult Muslims and enact the execution of journalists. When some advertisers fled, the Disney legal department briefly killed the messenger with a cease-and-desist order, alleging copyright violation.

But less than 48 hours after Spocko’s case was brought to light on the progressive news blog "The Daily Kos," several new Web hosts, including YouTube, Blogintegrity and Firedoglake, stepped up to provide access to audio files from KSFO. Instead of one ISP to threaten, there were now many–basically challenging MouseCorp to sue all of them.

Disney is now left with the option of playing a virtual game of "Whack A Mole," as the Rodent Empire’s lawyers will need to slap citations against a series of sites as swiftly as they pop up. Plus, it may only be a matter of time before the mainstream media rides the story for at least one new cycle. That’s got to be Disney’s worst nightmare: 24 hours where "Disney" and "Hate Speech" are both part of the topic line.

The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.  –John Gilmore

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