2:13-cv-2326 Rodrick Rickert v. Kurt Francis (and John Kawakami, LA Indymedia et. al.)

If you happened to come across my name in a web search, and found this lawsuit, I'm putting this page up to explain a little bit about it. For more details, contact me via johnk@riceball.com. If you're interested in the IMC and this suit, in general, I'm preparing a listserv to send updates.

I've kept fairly quiet on this suit partly due to being busy, but also as a courtesy to the court, but figure that as the number of documents online increases, the need for explanation also increases.

My involvement in the suit stems from the fact that Kurt Francis posted an article about Infoclosure, a company run by Rick Rickert, on LA Indymedia. Infoclosure contacted IMC and requested that the material be removed. I informed them of our protection under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which puts all liability on posted stories onto Kurt Francis, the author. However, after some discussion with the IMC collective (of which I'm part), it was decided to make a PDF of the document, and hide the story, leaving behind an explanation and contact info for the two parties.

I uploaded a copy of that PDF to this web server, and linked to it from the (now hidden) article. This was so that readers could judge for themselves about the issue. I didn't feel comfortable about censoring the material - mainly, because I could barely comprehend what it was about, and it looked kind of "crazy".

I think the many claims in their complaint are untrue or inaccurate, but I won't go into detail here. However, I'd like to address the issue of copyright, because I would like to dispel any notion that I don't care about copyright, or that IMC might be one of those anti-copyright websites.

In the suit, they say that IMC violated a copyright. I think this is untrue. Fair Use allows use of some copyrighted materials if it's in an article that is critical. However, despite Fair Use, IMC offered to remove any copyrighted material, if Infoclosure would provide URLs or other identifying info, as required by the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA). Infoclosure never provided this information. I was expecting Infoclosure to send a list of photos or text to delete, but never got anything.

IMC has generally honored DMCA requests, regardless of the registration status, unless the request appears to be erroneous - like threatening letters we've received claiming that the use of a trademark for identification constituted a "copyright" violation. We've even proactively removed ebooks and music files that have been posted.

IMC is not anti-copyright. It is pro-copyright, and we state that the copyright of each article belongs to the author. We limit the IMCs ability to distribute content on a noncommercial basis, and IMC interprets that as "no ads" on the website.

Personally, I am more liberal about copyright, and have intentionally questioned the copyright of Citibank one time, to post a report that they distributed about the coming "Plutonomy". This was done as an act of political speech, copying what Doug Henwood had done. His argument, and mine, is that the material is of historic interest, as part of explaining how we came to experience the economic collapse of 2007 and 2008. However, I got a DMCA takedown notice, and took it down because it seemed like a hassle to fight it. (The file was also getting no downloads, so it was a moot point.)

If you've read this far, you may wish to get more updates about the situation. Just send an email to the address above.