Civil liberties group criticizes Wal-Mart lawsuit | National Union of Public and General Employees

Civil liberties group criticizes Wal-Mart lawsuit

Copyright protections are 'not designed to insulate corporations from public criticism.' - CCLA general counsel Natalie Des Rosiers.

Ottawa (2 Sept. 2009) - The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) has taken a critical stand against Wal-Mart for resorting to trademark and copyright laws in its bid to shut down a critical labour movement website.

In an article published in the Toronto Star, CCLA general counsel Natalie Des Rosiers says the trademark and copyright protections cited by Wal-Mart were never designed to insulate corporations from criticism.

Wal-Mart is citing copyright violations in a case filed with the Quebec Superior Court. The goal of the giant Arkansas-based retailer is to get rid of the website www.walmartworkerscanada.ca.

The site is maintained by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW Canada) which has been working to organize and help Wal-Mart workers for nearly a decade.

"In seeking an injunction, Wal-Mart is misusing intellectual property laws," argues Des Rosiers.

"Trademark and copyright protections exist to prevent commercial free-riders from exploiting the investments that businesses make in their products and marketing," she says.

"These protections are not designed to insulate corporations from public criticism. The union is obviously not trying to pass itself off as a Wal-Mart store; rather, it is criticizing Wal-Mart's employment practices," Des Rosiers adds.

"Trademark and copyright protections should be interpreted to allow exceptions for political speech, parody and satire. Freedom of expression should permit parodies on political leaders, such as Pierre Eh!, which is indeed a legal development that has taken place in many other countries. But trademark and copyright protections should also permit public criticism of corporate actors. Political speech is not only speech about governmental actions."

The full article is available at the link listed below.

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has signed a protocol with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW Canada) to support and cooperate in the UFCW's campaign to organize workers at Wal-Mart stores across Canada. NUPGE

More information:
Toronto Star - No trademark on free speech
Wal-Mart tries to shut down union organizing site

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