Tag Archives: Jews for Jesus

Jews for Jesus* v. free speech: update

Originally posted 2006-02-06 22:30:35. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The troublesome “Jews for Jesus” blog is still around, after some people had the impression that perhaps Jews for Jesus, Inc. had been succesful in shutting it down. The J4J Whistleblower is still feeling kind of conspiratorial, writing:

Take your time to read through my previous blogs and the points raised. In one of my earlier blogs I pointed out that it takes time to sort through everything to realize what is going on. My previous post to this one looks at the actual text of Jews for Jesus’ lawsuit and points out what they really want. You’ll find this is in line with Susan Perlman’s comment that Jews for Jesus believes it has a right to how their organization will be represented on the internet. That explains why they are only using this blog as a stepping stone to have Google remove any blog with the name “jewsforjesus” in it. An astute observer on a legal blog pointed out that the likely target is www.exjewsforjesus.blogspot.com.

Harrumph. I couldn’t find that astute observer — Whistleblower is quite stingy with the hyperlinks for a blogger — but if that were true, it would be another blow inflicted on free speech by Jews for Jesus with the help of the courts. Quite ironic considering that this group has actually extended free speech protection in a number of decisions, including one in the U.S. Supreme Court, where its own speech was threatened.

But that sort of irony is already old and tired, isn’t it? It must be, because this story is being fairly well ignored — as the Jews for Jesus v. Brodsky case was — by the usual suspects in the free speech department whose ox, for some reason, doesn’t ever appear to be gored when Jews for Jesus is doing the goring. In 1998, Steve Brodsky’s requests for amicus submissions in the Third Circuit were blown off by both the New Jersey ACLU and the Electronic Freedom Foundation, without any real explanation, for example. Here too the EFF has been silent about this case, as have been the “copyfighters” at Corante.com. I don’t know why now, as I didn’t know why, then. Maybe if Steve Brodsky or the Whistleblower published pornography or scandalous charactures of Dick Cheney or were uploading music files the self-appointed guardians of free speech would have something to say about what’s going on here.

Yes, the old irony is old news. I guess it’s just as well, anyway, because in the area of free speech, now we have the all new irony!

Or is irony just not the right word for plain old cynicism? Well… don’t ask me!

*(Sour grapes warning! But if you can stand the taste, come on in; the dishing’s fine!)

UPDATE: Thanks to Dean for the link. I think that one may criticize my analysis above by suggesting that because of my own personal interest in this case, I am also guilty of the “whose ox is being gored?” syndrome. This may be true, but then I do not claim a comprehensive bailiwick, as the would-be guardians of free speech on the Internet do. I am just one lawyer who has had a few clients with interest in these matters. But I will acknowledge that the experience of representing Steve Brodsky against Jews for Jesus, Inc. and The National Debate against the New York Times has affected my own views, which formerly were biased in favor of trademark and copyright holders — that, and getting beaten up on daily basis for several months on the CYBERIA-L list, largely at the hands of Mike Godwin! So you know — we grow, we learn…

Jews for Jesus Redux (or, the Second Filing)

Jews for Jesus sues Google over blog

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Christian evangelical group Jews for Jesus is suing Google Inc., saying a Web log hosted through the Internet search leader’s Blogspot service infringes its trademark.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in New York on Wednesday, seeks to force Google to give Jews for Jesus control of the site as well as unspecified monetary damages.

“We have a right to our own name and Google has allowed the use of our name on Blogspot without our permission,” said Susan Perlman, associate executive director with Jews for Jesus.

“Our reputation is at stake,” Perlman told Reuters.

Some things never change. Sue’s a nice girl; she doesn’t lie under oath, and (unlike most of Jews for Jesus’ leadership and membership) is even Jewish. She is very misguided, however; here’s a little about the reputation of her employer. Here’s some more. And here — and criticism, by the way, is not limited to those who reject Messianic “Judaism.” Because this organization’s entire modus operandi is the lie, I am sure “reputational” damages will not be the sole damages sought by Jews for Jesus. (UPDATE: But what about a sense of humor, Sue?)

Anyone from the blog – or from Google — who wants to discuss this litigation with me, the defendant’s attorney in the Jews for Jesus v. Brodsky travesty of yore, give me a ring. I’ve thought and litigated a lot about this trademark. So has Paul Winick, the Thelen Reid partner who’s representing Jews for Jesus as he did in the Brodsky case.

UPDATE: Here’s a freebie for the first of Chanukah!

Evidently, trademark survey experts are less comfortable representing Jews for Jesus than Thelen Reid. Jews for Jesus — which has plenty of cash — nonetheless had to ask for (and was granted) a long extension of the discovery period to secure a survey expert because no one in the field with a reputation worth paying for would work with them! They ultimately engaged an expert whom we were prepared, based on transcripts from other engagements, to, er, crucify on the stand. The case settled after the submission of the pretrial order (no, it did not end with the preliminary injunction!), and before the trial. Here’s dollars to donuts that if they reach this stage again, they use the same tainted expert — or worse!

UPDATE: Justin Levine of CalBlog wonders if I really mean it, writing,

I have to wonder if Mr. Coleman really gets the problem with overbroad ‘cybersquatting’ laws in general, or if he is just coveniently cherry-picking his arguments because he doesn’t like the group in question. You can’t selectively use intellectual property concepts to only punish those you disagree with (otherwise I would have cheered on Fox News for in their frivolous claim agianst Al Franken) – this is an either/or proposition I’m afraid.

The blog doesn’t allow comments or provide email addresses that I could find, so excuse me if I use this space to say, Don’t be afraid, Justin! If you were familiar with what we’ve posted here over the course of the last year I think you’d find us pretty consistent on these issues — which is not to say that one size fits all cases. In fact, in the original Jews for Jesus v. Brodsky case (which was filed prior to the enactment of the Anti-Cybersquatting “Consumer” Protection Act) Jews for Jesus had meritorious legal arguments — the problem was that their true merits could not be determined from the opinion, because the judge simply chose to weigh none of Steven Brodsky’s arguments or, in the case of the First Amendment, even acknowledge that the arguments had been made, explicitly lying in the opinion by claiming that no free speech issues were raised or at issue in the case.

(In our view, by the way, the real problems were not the First Amendment claims but the disastrous — for many subsequent litigants — and utterly dishonest holdings in connection with “commercial use” of the trademark as required in by the dilution statute, and the enshrinement of the more than dubious “initial interest confusion” doctrine.) Once again, we explained it all here.

UPDATE: Definitive (and maybe a little less biased) writeup from Eric Goldman, who also provides the link (now inserted above) to the opinion.

UPATE: A correspondent challenged me on the “Jewish leadership” point, which I concede. With at least one notable exception, the J4J leadership is evidently mostly Jewish. Their children and certainly grandchildren aren’t likely to be, but, regrettably, they are.