Does This Domain Name Defame Glenn Beck?

A brand-new satirical website dedicated to “using (Glenn) Beck’s tactics against him” may be facing defamation charges — and all because the right-wing talk celebrity and his lawyers fail to see the humor in the domain name ““.

The whole thing began, as do many modern controversies, with Gilbert Gottfried. From ArsTechnica‘s Nate Anderson, who reports that it took Beck’s lawyers all of two days to come down on the site:

The controversy started a week ago in the Fark forums, where someone picked up on an old Gilbert Gottfried roast of the “comedian” (scare quotes fully intended) Bob Saget. During the roast, Gottfried repeatedly said that Saget had “not raped and killed a girl in 1990.” The Fark forums took the joke about the power of insinuation and applied it to right-wing talk show host Glenn “Obama is a racist” Beck.

One of the Fark readers then took the forum meme to the next level, registering a domain name and launching a web site in order to make a point about talking head TV demagoguery. “Why won’t Glenn Beck deny these allegations?” asks the site. “We’re not accusing Glenn Beck of raping and murdering a young girl in 1990 — in fact, we think he didn’t! But we can’t help but wonder, since he has failed to deny these horrible allegations. Why won’t he deny that he raped and killed a young girl in 1990?” At the very bottom of the page was a small text disclaimer saying that the site was satirical.

Sometimes, though, satire is in the eye of the beholder — or, in this case, the beholder and his cadre of high-priced legal guns.

The site went up on September 1 and had a huge spike of initial interest — it served more than 120,000 page loads in the first 24 hours. By September 3, lawyers for Beck’s media company, Mercury Radio Arts, had contacted the domain registrar demanding that the “highly defamatory domain name” be deleted, that the WhoisGuard privacy protection service be revoked, and that the owner’s contact information be turned over to the lawyers.

Beck’s attorneys haven’t yet filed a lawsuit, though, as Anderson writes, they did “file a case with the World Intellectual Property Organization in Switzerland, the group which handles the worldwide domain dispute resolution process, on the grounds that the new website was improperly using Glenn Beck’s trademarked name.”

The site’s anonymous owner, who Anderson interviewed, must respond to WIPO regarding Beck’s case or have the domain revoked. In the meantime he’s reaching out. From the web site:

Note to the lawyers: It’s apparent you’re reading the site and keeping up-to-date. I suppose our silly justice system means you can’t open a dialogue directly with me? I’ve always felt it never hurt to talk… My email is on the left, my phone number below…

And just in case that doesn’t work out, he informs readers:

Updated the domain name – got a new one and parked it:

A clever twist, you have to admit.

(Also check out The Day Fox News Went Off Message.)

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