It Doesn?t Suck.com


| March 5, 2003

What started as the unofficial fan site of a Dallas shopping mall has resulted in a legal victory for free speech. As Mark Donald reports in the alt weekly Dallas Observer, computer consultant Mark Mishkoff was only trying to promote a new local mall when he created ShopsAtWillowBend.com in 1999, but mall developer Taubman Co. accused him of ?cyber-squatting? and ordered him to shut down his site. Mishkoff responded by creating six more sites criticizing the developer, including WillowBendMallSucks.com, sparking a nasty legal battle. ?Lawyers have this racket, and it is nothing short of legalized blackmail,? says Mishkoff of the litigation that followed. ?Every time you give into their threats, you reward them for their behavior and tell them to go do it to someone else.? Mishkoff lost the first round in court, but persuaded Public Citizen, Ralph Nader?s public interest law firm, to appeal the case. Last month, a Sixth District Court of Appeals overturned the lower court ruling and vacated the injunction against Mishkoff?s ?sucks sites.? The case will contribute to a more concrete definition of what?s acceptable in the uncharted cyber world, and was a huge win for Internet geeks everywhere.
-Nick Garafola

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