PETA Parody Website Ruled Unlawful


Mar 11, 2001
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Ethical Treatment of PETA Domain.

By Declan McCullagh

2:00 a.m. Aug. 25, 2001 PDT
WASHINGTON -- A federal appeals court has ruled that a website titled "People Eating Tasty Animals" is not only a bad joke, but also an unlawful one.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said this week that the domain name, registered in 1995 by a man who planned to parody the nonprofit group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, was an illegal trademark infringement.

Michael Doughney's parody site lampooned vegetarianism -- which the real PETA insists upon -- and applauded carnivorism, dubbing itself a tongue-in-cheek "resource for those who enjoy eating meat, wearing fur and leather, hunting and the fruits of scientific research." (PETA opposes medical research on animals even in cases where human lives could be saved.)

The site's not-so-subtle mockery was red meat to PETA officials, who promptly sued, convinced a federal judge they were right, and then demanded Doughney pay them over $300,000 in attorney's fees and court costs, including photocopying, faxes, courier services, postage, travel, mileage, tolls and parking, long distance telephone calls and "miscellaneous" items.

The unanimous three-judge appeals panel denied PETA most of the fees, saying that even though Doughney violated federal law, his actions were not malicious. The panel made Doughney pay PETA only $28,671 in court costs.

In its initial filing, PETA claimed that Doughney had infringed on its trademark. But after the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act took effect in 1999, PETA successfully persuaded the district judge to apply the federal law retroactively, and the appeals court upheld the ruling.


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Mar 13, 2001
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With the lawyers involved, maybe it should be
           Pissing Every Truth Away
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