Parody site sued by Brazilian paper could be back online

In September 2010, Folha de S. Paulo (The São Paulo Journal) used the courts to shut down the Falha de S. Paulo (The São Paulo Failure) parody site for infringing on Folha’s copyright in its name, website address, and graphics. Eight months later, lawyers for the newspaper have said the site can return in its original form if it does not use the visual aspects of the paper’s brand, explains the parody site’s blog, "Sorry for our Failure."

For brothers Lino and Mario Bocchini, the authors of Falha, the proposal makes the parody not workable: “It is as if someone said: ‘Look, you can parody [former Brazilian president] Lula, but you can’t use a fake beard, a hoarse voice, or a big belly. And...also you can’t be short or talk with a lisp. Apart from that, feel free!”

The Bocchini brothers’ counter proposal was to continue with the visual style, but to include a banner that reads “This is not a newspaper” or “This is not Folha.” “It would be a message on the side of the logo…so the reader would not be confused,” Lino explained, quoted by Consultor Jurídico.

The blog called Folha’s lawsuit an attack on freedom of expression, while Folha said it wanted “to end the use of a logo and domain name virtually identical to that of the newspaper.”

International groups like Global VoicesArticle 19, and Reporters Without Borders criticized the paper for using the courts to “censor” the blog. The paper’s ombudsman said the lawsuit was a public relations fiasco and more harmful to Folha’s brand than the blog itself.

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.