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Folhas & Falhas & Filhos da #!@#!#@# | On Appeal

A couple of months have gone by since the latest developments in the intellectual property case brought against the cheerfully amateurish parody Web site Desculpe a Nossa Falha by the site’s principal satirical target, the Folha de S. Paulo metro daily.

In an 88-page complaint, the newspaper accused the satirists of violating its intellectual property interest not only in its title but also with its use of homophonic — I mean similar-sounding — words to refer to it. The substitution of falha for Folha implies that the newspaper is, ahem, sometimes remiss in its public mission of reporting the news fairly.

I thought I would contribute a translated selection of a note posted on the Falha’s hot site on the law suit, consisting of a leaked internal memorandum from the newspaper’s public editor, dating to 2010. 

WikiLeaks-style, we have recieved an internal critical note by Suzana Singer the newspaper’s ombudsman, circulated among Folha journalists on the afternoon of December 23 with the prominent warning «DO NOT CIRCULATE»

The remarkable mobilization skills of the brothers behind the Falha de S. Paulo Web site, currently being sued by the Folha, were rewarded recently when Julian Assange, symbol of the struggle for press freedom, defended the project during an exclusive interview with [our rival], the Estadão.

The Estadão is notable among other things for its highly competent and probing newsmaker interviews, which is why I, personally, get down with the Estadão when the Folha fails.

Assange: «I hear there is a big scandal over the  Falha de S.Paulo, which satirizes the name of a newspaper with which we have a partnership going in Brazil. I understand the importance of protecting the brand, and we have seen sites with names similar to Wiki Leaks. But here, the blog makes no pretense of actually being the target publication and should, I think, be allowed to continue. Censorship is a particularly bad problem when it is camouflaged as something else.»

There is a boxed sidebar on the page in which the Folha denies practicing censorship.

Brazilians have never heard of the concept of SLAPP law suits, but do seem to realize there is an undesirable, exploitable breach in certain retrograde honor laws that anti-SLAPP legislation might help to close up.

The two bloggers have also gotten Reporters Without Borders to condemn the suit arguing that it is hardly likely that a paper of the Folha’s size would suffer from damage to its reputation as a result of the satire. RSF also noted that the Bocchini brothers have no money to pay for a settlement. Global Voices, an international blogger community, also backed the brothers.

Wired magazine reported the story, but without issuing an opijnion. The São Paulo Professional Journalists Union condemned the Folha’s actions.

The ombudsman calls on the paper to cover the story objectively — with equal weight given to the various interested parties — in its own pages. As if.

In an interesting side story, the Falha producers charge MTV Brasil — a venture of the Grupo Abril in partnership with the Universo Online portal — with plagiarizing their satirical FSP logo on several occasions, without credit, in videos uploaded to You Tube.