The blogging platform WordPress (see disclosure) is getting bolder in defense of its publishing partners. Last week, it introduced a “Hall of Shame” to highlight people and companies who abuse copyright law in an attempt to purge content from the internet. Inaugural inductees include singer Janet Jackson, who told WordPress to remove this image, inspired by a recent World Cup meme, posted by a blogger:
As WordPress notes, the image is an obvious case of fair use and Jackson had no right to demand its removal. The company also published its tart response to Jackson’s lawyers, and to others, including a baking company that threatened copyright action against 32 [company]Wordpress[/company] bloggers who used the phrase “Derby Pie” as titles for their recipes. (WordPress refused to remove the recipe blogs, but did invite the bloggers to consider re-titling their recipes “Mean-Spirited Censorship Pie.”)
This type of pushback against overreaching intellectual property claims is significant because WordPress, owned by [company]Automattic[/company] (see disclosure), is the world’s most popular blogging platform. Its decision to flex its legal muscle against inappropriate copyright claims thus benefits everyone who uses its service. In November, the company also joined a rare legal challenge that seeks to punish two people behind two egregious instances of copyright abuse.
The WordPress launch of the “Hall of Shame” also coincides with the second edition of the company’s Transparency Report, which describes not only takedown demands by intellectual property owners, but requests for data and content from law enforcement.
The five inaugural members of Hall of Shame also include called Dorra Slimming, which issued a nonsense copyright claim after a user wrote a blog post panning its weight loss product, and a New York State agency that went after a cyclist for using a variation of the “I heart NY” logo.
Disclosure: Automattic is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of Gigaom.