Brazilian court upholds censorship of title of parody newspaper site

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  • December 21, 2010

By Maira Magro

Update: The headline of this post was changed Dec. 23 from "Brazilian court upholds censorship of parody newspaper site" to "Brazilian court upholds censorship of title of parody newspaper site."

A court's decision to shut down an online parody of Folha de S. Paulo has drawn international criticism. The site’s name and address parodied Folha de S. Paulo (The São Paulo Journal) with “Falha de S. Paulo” (The São Paulo Failure), which featured criticism and humorous fake headlines from the newspaper. It was taken offline by a September court order, and last week, a São Paulo court upheld the ruling, Portal Imprensa reports.

In its lawsuit, Folha claimed that the site was misusing its brand and that the similarity between the two sites' titles and addresses could confuse readers. In its most recent ruling, the court said that “Falha” engaged in “parasitic” emulation of Folha.

After the site was taken down, users created blogs with the old content and new material satirizing the case against the site. The brothers behind Falha, journalists Lino and Mário Bocchini, accused the newspaper of censorship, a claim that was echoed by journalists and free speech advocates both in and out of Brazil. The brothers worry that they could be forced to pay yet unspecified damages to Folha.

Among those critical of the ruling are the São Paulo Journalists’ Uniondozens of Brazilian bloggers, newspapers, and magazines; and John Perry Barlow, one of the founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation

According to Wired, a member of the “anonymous” hacker collective set up a blog reproducing the content using the original “falhadesaopaulo” name.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.