Feeds

Amazon slapped with cockfighting lawsuit

Bird-on-bird magazines ruffle feathers

High performance access to file storage

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has slapped Amazon.com with a lawsuit aimed at preventing the online retailer punting cockfighting magazines and dogfighting videos, Computerworld reports.

The HSUS action - filed last week in Superior Court of the District of Columbia - specifically concerns "The Underground Pitbull Breeders Association, StreetHeatDVD.com, and the publishers of The Gamecock and The Feathered Warrior. HSUS has also targeted DVDs Unleashed: The Realest Pitbull Action Caught on Tape and Hood Fights Vol. 2, The Art of the Pit, both "depicting illegal dogfighting".

The HSUS statement reads: "At issue in the case are four items which the HSUS has repeatedly asked Amazon.com to drop from its sales list because they depict and promote cruel dogfighting and cockfighting events in violation of federal law."

Cockfighting is indeed illegal across most of the US, except in Louisiana and New Mexico*.

HSUS continues: "Amazon.com is the sole retailer of subscriptions to the animal fighting magazines and the only outlet for animal fighters to obtain subscriptions over the internet. Similarly, Amazon.com is one of only three sellers of the dogfighting DVD and the easiest seller to locate on the web."

HSUS backs its case with specific examples which it claims constitute clear breaches of federal law:

An HSUS review of the last 12 months of The Gamecock and The Feathered Warrior found that more than 90 per cent of the magazines' advertisements are nothing more than a solicitation to commit a crime. The HSUS has also uncovered evidence that such magazines are published for the express purpose of promoting unlawful animal fighting and are found at more than 75 per cent of the animal fighting operations that have been raided by law enforcement officers.

Regarding the DVDs, HSUS adds:

In the dogfighting DVD Unleashed, approximately 20 dogs are wounded, tortured, or killed during the making of the movie. The lawsuit alleges that Amazon's sale of the DVD violates a federal law that makes it a crime to create, possess or sell a depiction of animal cruelty for financial gain. Hood Fights Vol. 2 includes some of the same footage.

Amazon declined to comment on the accusations, but the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression's president Chris Finan weighed in with: "In its zeal to eradicate conduct that it abhors, the Humane Society is over-reaching by trying to suppress speech that is protected by the First Amendment. Speech that advocates hateful ideas is entitled to the same degree of First Amendment protection as speech advocating popular views.

"If the courts accepted the Humane Society's argument, we can only wonder what other kinds of controversial ideas in [books] and magazines would come under attack next. This is why the Supreme Court has declared that even the advocacy of illegal conduct is protected by the First Amendment."

The HSUS statement counters: "There is no First Amendment protection for speech that proposes unlawful commercial transactions - let alone speech that is on its face criminal because it promotes and incites criminal animal cruelty. Many legal experts agree that there is no First Amendment protection for the sale and distribution of the magazines."

It concludes: "It's hard to imagine the reasons behind Amazon's allegiance to these vehicles of animal cruelty in an era when most corporations make a concerted effort to dissociate themselves from animal abuse. But one thing remains clear: if it won't be swayed by simple ethics, Amazon.com may soon find itself being swayed by the courts." ®

Bootnote

*It's also prohibited in the UK, which last year led the Edinburgh Film festival to pull 1974 film Cockfighter from its schedule on the grounds that it contained too much cockfighting.

The British Board of Film Classification's Sue Clark explained at the time: "The film was never edited for classification in the UK because it's called Cockfighter. And if you take out all the cockfighting scenes there's not much left."

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.