Kern’s Kitchen’s Mean-Spirited Censorship Pie

Kern’s Kitchen, the company exclusively behind “the one and only Derby-Pie® chocolate nut pie,” asserted its trademark against 32 bloggers on WordPress.com who had the nerve to title their recipes “Derby Pie.” Between the link to trademark information displayed prominently on their site and the many lawsuits they’ve filed, it’s clear that they take this pie business seriously. They’ve rightfully earned their place in the Hall of Shame as The Most Litigious Dessert in America.

We pushed back as much as possible to keep the posts up, and reached out to each of our bloggers about the issue and suggested alternate recipe names, such as “Kentucky Derby Chocolate Pie” or “Mean-Spirited Censorship Pie.” Our friends at EFF joined in on the fun too and made this entertaining video about the case.

 

Bikram: (Not So) Hot Yoga

Over the years, founder of Bikram Yoga, Bikram Choudhury, has been under considerable public scrutiny for alleged sexual harassment. In what we believe was an attempt to censor critical speech, several different individuals (supposedly) submitted five DMCA notices against a single blog post that touched on these accusations. After we rejected the first four DMCA notices because we had good reason to believe that they were not the rightful authors of the content,  the fifth was submitted by a lawyer claiming to represent Bikram Choudhury. In his notice, he alleged that Mr. Choudhury’s name and photo were used in violation of his copyrights and the law. We rejected the final notice because his name is not copyrightable and we believed that the photo fell under fair use.

Dorra Slimming’s Slim Pickings

After a less than ideal experience with Dorra Slimming, our user took to her blog to post about it. The company sent us a complaint alleging that her post was infringing on the copyright protected Dorra Slimming logo. After looking at the post, the only instance of the logo we could spot was in this photo that our user took:

dorra

Because the photograph supports her criticism, we rejected the claim on the grounds of fair use.

New York, We Don’t Heart This

The New York State Department of Economic Developments holds a trademark over the iconic “I Love NY,” but we never expected them to go after someone using this logo to promote bicycling in their lovely state:

 

cropped-newnewibikenyc

We rejected the claim on the grounds of fair use.

Welcome to our Transparency Report

Automattic’s mission is to democratize publishing, and a fully informed citizenry is the foundation of any functioning democracy. We’ve always aimed to keep our users and the public fully informed about our policies for responding to government requests – and now, more than ever, candor in this area is vitally important.

In keeping with these principles, we’re pleased to release our first transparency report. This initial report summarizes the number of government information requests, takedown demands, and national security requests that we received during the second half of 2013. In addition to giving our users full transparency about the volume of these requests, we also hope that publicly reporting our data will help hold all parties (including us) accountable.

We’ll update this report every six months so that we can compare the volume of requests we receive over time. In future reports, we’ll include information about the volume of copyright takedown requests we receive and process under the DMCA. We’ll also update you on the actions we’re taking on the internet, in the courts, and in Congress, to defend our users and promote a free and open internet. So stay tuned to the “News” tab of the report!

A few highlights of our report:

Information Requests. For the second half of 2013, approximately 0.0001% of the 48 million sites that we host were subject to a government information request. Our policy is to notify you of any information request we receive regarding your account, so that you may challenge the request. The only exception is if we are prohibited by law (not just asked nicely by the police) from making such a notification. We also carefully review all legal requests we receive and actively push back on those that are procedurally deficient, overly-broad, or otherwise improper (i.e., targets non-criminal free speech). In other words, we’ve got your back.

Takedown Demands. Just as importantly, our transparency report includes takedown requests we received from governments around the world. Governments sometimes seek to remove WordPress.com posts that they deem to be prohibited by local laws, such as posts that they judge as defamatory or those that discuss illegal subject matter. We aim to promote freedom of expression around the world, and are also mindful of local laws that might impact that expression. When we receive an order to remove content, we may remove it in only those jurisdictions where it violates local law.

National Security. Finally, we’re reporting the maximum amount of information allowed by law about the number and type(s) of National Security Requests that we received. The disclosures we’re currently allowed to make are limited, and we’re unfortunately not permitted to paint a more truthful picture.

Share and Share Alike

Like all of our policy documentation, our transparency report is released under a Creative Commons Share Alike license (CC BY-SA 2.0) so that other sites can use and build on our work if they’d like.

We hope this report is useful to our users and that its data adds to the important public debate about the proper role of government in monitoring and policing activity on the modern internet.