Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Citizens United Against Citizens United rises again

We wrote a few weeks ago about Citizens United threatening an organization with copyright infringement because of the group's clever, and entirely apropos Facebook group name: Citizens United Against Citizens United.

The Facebook group was organized by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. The organization, facing a possible suit with few resources, took a step back and changed the group's name to United Citizens Against Citizens United.

But you should never waste a good name. So Public Citizen has stepped in and adopted the name, setting up a website, CitizensUnitedAgainstCitizensUnited.org, to promote the Fair Elections Act, disclosure laws, and a constitutional amendment barring corporate access to the First Amendment.

Public Citizen notes some early effects of Citizens United are already being seen, "with states throwing out restrictions on corporate election spending, the Chamber of Commerce stuffing its coffers to run election ads later this year, various political committees and advocacy groups clamoring for corporate contributions, and corporate insiders confirming that Citizens United signaled to business that there is no longer reason to exercise restraint in political spending." They also point out that Citizens United is headhunting for two documentary producers, no doubt expecting a busy election season ahead.

Public Citizen adds "should Citizens United come after Public Citizen as it did the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Public Citizen is ready. Merely using the words citizens united in a URL does not constitute trademark infringement, according to Paul Alan Levy, a Public Citizen attorney who specializes in trademark law and Internet free speech."

Or perhaps Citizens United could start a Facebook group of its own: "Citizens United Against Citizens United Against Citizens United."

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