Feeds

Amazon slapped with cockfighting lawsuit

Bird-on-bird magazines ruffle feathers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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."

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Bladerunner sequel might actually be good. Harrison Ford is in it
Go ahead, you're all clear, kid... Sorry, wrong film
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
Forget Hillary, HP's ex CARLY FIORINA 'wants to be next US Prez'
Former CEO has political ambitions again, according to Washington DC sources
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Managing SSL certificates with ease
The lack of operational efficiencies and compliance pitfalls associated with poor SSL certificate management, and how the right SSL certificate management tool can help.