Judge upholds ban on satirical blog in Brazil

A Brazilian court ruled on Wednesday, Feb. 20, that the blog "Falha de São Paulo," a parody of the Folha de São Paulo newspaper will remain offline, reported Carta Capital.

The newspaper Folha de São Paulo sued the website's creators, brothers Mário e Lino Bocchini, to block the use of its logo and the website's domain name. The blog, which was online for 21 days in 2010, used humorous headlines and photos to criticize and poke fun at the São Paulo-based newspaper's coverage. Since their website was blocked, the bloggers moved to the domain name "desculpeanossafalha.com.br" (Apologies for our Falha) to report on the lawsuit and publish messages of support they received.

Lino Bocchini said that the decision establishes a bad precedent for freedom of expression, "We're going to try to appeal to [a higher court] or the Supreme Court but it's not so simple. Today, we just passed 873 days censored and I don't know if we'll ever be back. And the worst part is the precedent. It's become a case that could be used against all of us. Against Folha, even," he said in a Facebook post.

In the lawsuit, Folha argued that the website confused readers by using its brand, graphic design and protected content. The newspaper denied that the proceedings had any connection to freedom of expression concerns but the brothers called the lawsuit an act of censorship.

Since the court ordered it offline, the satirical blog's case has generated debate about freedom of expression and intellectual property on the Internet. Folha de S. Paulo's ombudsman, Suzana Singer, criticized the newspaper's decision to sue the bloggers, saying that the lawsuit did more damage to the publication than the blog.

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.