Skip to comments.Freedom Fighters-FR mentioned in Liberal paper
Posted on 05/09/2002 11:21:02 AM PDT by ElRushbo
by Kate MacDonald, Staff Writer May 09, 2002
One of the most influential and monumental First Amendment battles of this new millennium is being fought in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The unhappy marriage of print media and the Internet has finally reached an impasse. Free Republic bills itself as a "loosely organized group of grassroots Americans who support the constitution and look for honesty, integrity and honor from those in government." Nice PR. Really, this staunchly conservative activist group's popularity and fondness for a good battle have turned quite a few heads on Capitol Hill. Active members, who call themselves FReepers, include Dr. Alan Keyes, Gary Aldrich, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Congressman Bob Barr and Matt Drudge. In its fifth year, the Free Republic has grown to over 60,000 members with chapters all over the country. The crux of their movement is Freerepublic.com, a massive forum-driven website where the pseudo-militant grassroots conservatives can convene to pontificate at the virtual podium on the devious workings of government and media.
There is no noise on the Internet, but these ranters are screaming loudly enough to garner the reproach of more than easily offended liberals. The FReepers frequently use examples from current media to facilitate their arguments. Their practice of posting entire articles lifted from news sources all over the country has infuriated commercial media.
Crying theft, unfair competition and intellectual property rights, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times have filed suit against Free Republic.
What a delicious irony, that a group of enlightened and loquacious defenders of constitutional privilege are now entangled in this trenchant imbroglio calling into question the very principles their movement was founded upon.
The Free Republic calls their media adversaries "elements of the socialist propaganda machine" and claims that the practice of posting articles is tantamount to "gathering in our virtual town hall where we virtually pass around newspaper clippings."
The newspapers claim their copyrighted material is produced at great expense to them. They post these materials online, and the ad revenue from their websites is necessary to sustain their operation.
As both sides are armed with strong and persuasive rhetoric, the issue is exacerbated by the fact that Free Republic is a nonprofit movement. All of its funding comes from private donations. Therefore, there is soundness in the Freepers' assertion that they are not stealing the articles for commercial gain but rather passing them around to educate and illuminate each other on issues of immediate relevancy.
The district judge disagreed and ruled erroneously in favor of the Post and the Times, saying that Free Republic is a commercial enterprise. Free Republic is appealing to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and will likely have its arguments heard in September. In the meantime, the group is barred from allowing its members to post full-text articles from The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times.
The FReepers are calling this legal fight no less than a "life-and-death struggle." In fact, this description is the truth. If this battle falls in favor of the commercial media, the Free Republic will die. With its principled dedication to the First Amendment called into question, the group is being forced to defend it absolutely. If it fails, then the fundamental foundation of the group's movement will have been destroyed. No structure can stand without a foundation.
The fight that Free Republic is embroiled in is broader and farther-reaching than just the relatively small group of people involved. The U.S. Constitution is the foundation upon which our democracy is built. Its first and foremost amendment is being challenged in the name of monetary gain.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals must recognize that to rule in favor of the commercial media in this case will weaken and debase the words supporting this country. Chipping away at the foundation doesn't bode well for any American: conservative, liberal, or purveyor of socialist propaganda.
Kate MacDonald (kmacdonald
She almost got it right.
Wasn't too sure were she was going at first but she seemed to end the article correctly.
I'm proud to wear that title. Perhaps a bumper sticker is in order?
"Kate MacDonald (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior majoring in many, many things, including film and Italian."