8.24.2005

Once Again, Free Speech Kicks Falwell's Fat.ass

Falwell Critic Can Keep Domain Name

from ZD Net

A Web site with a domain name resembling Rev. Jerry Falwell's can continue to vent about the preacher's anti-gay views, a federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday.

A three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed a lower court's ruling, which had prohibited Christopher Lamparello from "maintaining a gripe Web site critical of Jerry Falwell," the appeals court opinion said.

Lamparello registered
Fallwell.com in 1999 after hearing Falwell give an interview containing what he considered to be offensive opinions about homosexuality. Inside, it links to articles intended to dispel what Lamparello deemed untruths about gay people. It also contains disclaimers that contain links to Falwell's official site.

Falwell sent Lamparello letters in October 2001 and June 2003 demanding that the site be taken down and ultimately filed claims. A district court last year enjoined Lamparello from using the domain name and required him to transfer it to Falwell.

But the appeals court viewed the situation in a different light. One of the major factors in trademark cases, the court said, is whether use of a similar name creates a "likelihood of confusion" for those who read it.

"Lamparello's Web site looks nothing like Reverend Falwell's; indeed, Lamparello has made no attempt to imitate Reverend Falwell's Web site," wrote Judge Diana Motz.

A federal judge in 2003 dismissed another case Falwell brought against the operator of parody sites hosted on
Jerryfalwell.com and Jerryfallwell.com.

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