Oil Company Sues ISP, Kills Greenpeace Protest Site Against Them

Greenpeace protests an oil company with a parody site. The oil company files a lawsuit against the ISP of Greenpeace, claiming copyright monopoly violation of the company’s look and feel. The ISP shuts down the Greenpeace protest site immediately, complying with the threat from the oil company, without fighting the lawsuit or waiting for the court. Yup: the abuse-friendly copyright monopoly is now abused by oil companies to suppress Greenpeace, too.

Greenpeace had launched nestespoil.com, a protest site against Finnish oil company Neste Oil, highlighting how their practices lead to deforestation and increased carbon emissions. Neste Oil were not amused, and launched a lawsuit. Not a lawsuit against Greenpeace, mind you, but against their Internet Service Provider, Loopia.

Screenshot of Greenpeace’s protest site

Neste Oil filed the lawsuit in the district court of Västmanland in Sweden, where Loopia is based. According to Greenpeace, the oil company has also filed a complaint with WIPO, demanding the transfer of the domain nestespoil.com from Greenpeace to the oil company Neste Oil.

Greenpeace are, predictably, furious. Neither Neste Oil nor Loopia want to comment on the case.

Greenpeace’s original protest site, NesteSpoil.com, still leads to the blocked-site placeholder closed.loopia.se. In the meantime, Loopia competitor Binero has approached Greenpeace and offered to put the site back up, asking Neste Oil in public to take a hike. Greenpeace has also put the site back online under nestespoilreturns.com, with a big banner telling the story of Neste Oil’s bullying of the protest site.

This is the exact result of intermediary liability for copyright monopoly violations. We’ve been talking about this all the time – it leads to extrajudicial suppression of speech that somebody doesn’t like. It’s more than time to declare the copyright monopoly inapplicable to nonprofits, like Greenpeace, and to private individuals.

UPDATE: WIPO denied the complaint from Neste Oil (although not in a unanimous decision).

Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot.

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Discussion

  1. Anonymous

    Um, I wouldn’t say that Nesteoil suied their *Internet Service Provider*, even if it’s true as well. I’d actually say their host on the Internet. ie. web hosting company. It’s true how ever that hosting a web site, is actually providing internet service to that particular site..

    1. YesToPP

      You are an ISP even if you do not provide access to the Internet. (Called Access Provider) a Web hosting company is an ISP too. (Host Provider) You also have other ISP’s, such as Mailbox Providers.

      So, saying that the company sued their ISP is true. Even TPB is an ISP. They provide a search SERVICE on the Internet.

      Unfortunately ISP has today become synonymous with Access Provider only, which is just not a true picture of what an ISP really is.

      Just my 2 cents.

  2. Tor

    That’s just horrible – attacking free speech like that! May the Streisand effect prevail and the full force of the Internet wrath and media transparency hit them. I criticized IPRED because I feared something just like this and now it all comes true. Responsible politicians need to open up their eyes.

    In the oil company’s own filing it is said that a prerequisite for an injunction to be granted is that the actions of the ISP “reduce the value of the exclusive right”. However, no argument for such a reduction is presented. To me it only seems to lead to a reduction in goodwill, but with the company now competing to do a better job at this itself I fail to see how this can be a legal problem.

    Does anyone know if the complaint filed with WIPO is publicly available?

    The fact that this company is state owned only makes this censorship so much worse! Kudos to Binero for standing up for free speech rights.

  3. Jag

    This is a typical situation where the rights owner holds a gun to the head of the intermediary and everybody else suffers.

    I disagree that copyright should just be made somehow irrelevant to non-profits and private individuals as you have suggested, but a more sensible solution would be to reform the law so that protection of Parody works is enshrined. Don’t know what Swedish Law says but it’s currently on the cards in the UK.

    Also the legal position of Intermediaries needs to be reconsidered for the sake of legal certainty. However in reality I suspect that over the coming years they will forced to shoulder more and more of the legal burden.

  4. @collentine

    I don’t know the facts behind (only from one side) so I can’t say if the decision was right or wrong from Loopia.

    As a customer with Loopia I did send a mail with a few questions and signed it with ‘worried customer’. In the mail I asked for more transparency with take-down decisions and also for them to clarify what they were doing to protect their customers.
    Waiting for a reply now.

    1. S.W. Leefers

      Well done! This is an outrage, and what you did is one of the best thinks we can do.

  5. Rick

    Don’t know what the law is like in Sweden, but in US, as far as I know, parody and satire are specifically protected forms of speech, much as political speech is. (Which the Greenpeace website may coutn as too.)

    Loopia is evidently operated by cowards. They didn’t even fight, just dropped their pants and bent over.

  6. Anders Troberg

    Well, as wrong as it is to shut down that Greenpeace site, I think it’s the wrong battleground. Greenpeace is probably the single most dangerous terrorist organization in the world. The people of the earth is starving to death at a rate of about twice the total casualty figures (on all sides) during the entire WW2 each year, yet Greenpeace oppose efficient means of food production through scare tactics terror propaganda.

    So, I think they are the wrong people to waste time defending, there are many who are more deserving.

    1. 6.941

      Defense of free speech should not be contingent on what is said. Being able to do those things that others want you to do is not a liberty.

  7. Alan

    >Greenpeace oppose efficient means of food production through scare tactics terror propaganda.

    You mean like whale hunting ?

    There’s a lot more to long term sustainability than short term GM food “efficiency” and creating superweeds, poisoning water supplies and destroying the environment.

    The biggest criminals are probably the catholic church and its fight against birth control

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  9. JR

    This isn’t enough. Greenpeace activists should be getting raped in jail too for this horrific violation of copyright. That’s why we need to enact ACTA and SOPA type legislation ASAP to prevent these crimes against copyright from continuing.

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