posted Oct 22, 2000

No free speech @Home for critic who posts service documents
Free Speech
10/22/2000; 11:58:34 AM

'Participants in an @Home-run newsgroup that focused on @Home service topics were the ones up in arms. One of their participants, an AT&T@Home customer named Wesley, had his account shut down by @Home within hours of posting some @Home and/or cable company documents to the newsgroup. The documents included technical support procedures and refund policies, leaving many @Home customers feeling Wesley was guilty only of giving them ammunition to deal with the service outages they've experienced.'

Posting internal, private documents = free speech? Debatable, I think, but this does cut dangerously close to textbook corporate censorship, where the corporation you are trying to discuss as per your free speech rights owns the only sensible forum you can discuss them in.

There is a lesson we can learn from this article, though.  @Home is claiming (probably correctly) that the posted document belong to them, and they are just asserting their intellectual property rights in having them removed. Thus, if this situation ever arise, instead of posting the documents wholesale, post a small snippet that proves you have them, comment on the snippet (fair use), then summarize the rest of the document. Copyright only protects the expression, not the facts contained in the expression. If Wesley had done that, the IP argument would have been nullified.


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