Bell Tolls for FreeRepublic.com
Todd Brendan Fahey
Monday, February 11, the 9th District Circuit Court of Appeals,
San Francisco, will convene to hear oral arguments in re: Washington
Post and Los Angeles Times v. FreeRepublic.com LLC (a
limited liability corporation), in what is perhaps the most important
1st amendment case of the new millennium. At issue is the propensity
of FreeRepublic.com and its owner, Jim Robinson, to allow the posting
of whole-length articles from news organizations nationwide
a policy the Post and Times, respectively, assert
infringe upon the intellectual property rights of both the news
corporations and of individual writers. At stake is a tort complaint
of $1,000,000 lodged against Mr. Robinson, and the very future of
FreeRepublic.com. The Supreme Court recently refused FreeRepublic.com's
writ of certiorari, effectively denying any hope that the nation's
highest court will hear the case, following a judgement for the
plaintiff by the 9th District Court; FR's claim was also denied
a mediation hearing.
simple terms, a judgement against FreeRepublic.com in the coming
months will spell an Error 404 message for a Web site that is credited
by many news organizations as ushering in President George W. Bush
over Al Gore.
Robinson's defense rests on his claim that Free Republic operates
under "Fair Use" provisions of the copyright law, as an educational
resource. Attorney Brian Buckley, for FreeRepublic.com, offered
to a lower court that, "The political views expressed by the majority
of participants are congruent with the goal of rooting out corruption
in government, though no censorship is made and all views are permitted."
Mr. Buckley presented to the U.S. District Court, Central District
Free Republic (freerepublic.com) is a not-for-profit politically-conservative
internet web site begun as a hobby by defendant Jim Robinson ("Robinson"),
a disabled wheel-chair bound victim of Muscular Dystrophy. Free
Republic is a "bulletin board" type of internet site which allows
visitors to the site to "post" articles and commentary to the
site which can be read and commented upon by other visitors to
the site. Robinson created Free Republic in 1996 out of shear
frustration. He was dissatisfied with the current Presidential
administration (the "Clinton Administration") and with the "mainstream"
media coverage of its policies and activities. Robinson was frustrated
with the inability on other internet sites and alternative forums
to engage in a completely free and open discussion of news and
politics especially by dissenters to the current Presidential
Administration's policies and activities and dissenters to the
"mainstream" media coverage of same. Before creating Free Republic,
Robinson frequented other internet discussion sites and was frustrated
by their censorship and restrictions on free statement of ideas.
in the computer consulting business, Robinson saw the need to create
an alternative forum which would allow open discussion of news and
politics and allow open discussion of the "mainstream" media
coverage of same. Thus was born Free Republic." (Emphasis added)
transcript of FR's unsuccessful lower-court ruling.)
many months, FreeRepublic served as "an online gathering place for
independent, grass-roots conservatism on the web. We're working
to roll back decades of governmental largesse, to root out political
fraud and corruption, and to champion causes which further conservatism
in America" (front page mission
statement). Lately, however dating back to the GOP primary
Presidential campaigns it appears to many that the "independent,
grassroots conservatism" emphasis has been replaced by a rank-and-file
boostership for the Republican National Committee and all that President
Bush sees fit to offer for the nation an increasingly liberal
(Big Government) vision, in the eyes of many "grassroots conservatives."
last month, attempting to bring to light nefarious events relative
to the CIA's MK-Ultra mind control experiments, and also the galling
push of certain members of the Bush cabinet to usher in a National
I.D. card, were rebuffed wholesale by Mr. Robinson. Threads were
pulled summarily, and those posting the articles saw their accounts
banned instantly. Mr. Robinson offered the following explanations:
Lots of grumbling
lately about deleted posts. Well, my friends, the simple truth
is the game has changed. We are now at war. We have been attacked
by a vicious cold-blooded force of international terrorists who
want to destroy our nation, our freedom and our way of life. There
is no doubt about this. Knowing this, I am alarmed to read some
of the stuff that has been posted to FR in the last few days.
This is not the time to raise doubts about our leaders. This is
not the time to raise conspiracy theories. This is not the time
to second guess our intelligence agencies. This is war. This is
survival of our way of life. We must unite behind our Commander-in-chief
and do all we possibly can to support him and our war efforts.
We do not have a choice in this matter. (thread)
FR poster "jazzfanaticus," Mr. Robinson stated directly:
02 Jan 2002 02:50:39 -0800
Re: What Are You Scared Of?
are coming in here to post a bunch of propaganda to smear Bush
or otherwise harm the war effort are going to be deleted.
9th District Court will, of course, judge the case on many merits.
But with no noticeable papers filed by counsel toward next week's
trial, and with a central part of FR's legal strategy decimated
(the "censorship-free clause," as it were), the future of FreeRepublic.com
would appear bleak, indeed.
a strategic writer stationed in South Korea, has served as aide
to Central Intelligence Agency agent Theodore L. "Ted"
Humes, Division of Slavic Languages, and to the late-Defense Intelligence
Agency (DIA) chief Lt. General Daniel O. Graham; to former Arizona
Governor Evan Mecham (R-AZ), former Congressman John Conlan (R-AZ)
and others. He is author of Wisdom's
Maw: The Acid Novel (Far Gone Books, 1996) and "Al Hubbard:
The Original Captain Trips" (High Times magazine, 1991),
exposes of the CIA's MK-Ultra program and its influence on the Sixties'
psychedelic counterculture. He is the architect of DumpMcCain.com.
© 2002 LewRockwell.com
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