On 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.
In 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.
Further, Mr. Buckley presented to the U.S. District Court, Central District of California:
“Defendant 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.
Already 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) (Verbatim transcript of FR’s unsuccessful lower-court ruling.)
For 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.”
Posters 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)
To FR poster “jazzfanaticus,” Mr. Robinson stated directly:
Date: Wed, 02 Jan 2002 02:50:39 -0800 From: “Jim Robinson” Organization: Free Republic To: “Larry McDonald” Subject: Re: What Are You Scared Of?
Those who are coming in here to post a bunch of propaganda to smear Bush or otherwise harm the war effort are going to be deleted.
The 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.
February 5, 2002
Fahey, 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.