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Fake Canon exec blogger rebuffs legal beef

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Camera maker Canon has attempted to have a spoof executive blog removed from the internet but the blog operator has continued to publish after making some minor changes to the site.

Fakechuckwestfall.wordpress.com is an obviously made up blog supposedly written by Chuck Westfall, Canon's director of media and customer relationship. It is the second famous blog to parody a figure in the technology world. A Fake Steve Jobs blog became a widely read Silicon Valley spoof two years ago.

Lawyers for Canon wrote to blogging company Wordpress demanding that the site be taken down because it invaded Westfall's privacy, contained alleged threats of violence, made unauthorised use of the Canon logo and was designed to mislead people into thinking it was genuine communication from Canon.

According to the Fake Chuck Westfall blog, Wordpress initially told the anonymous writer behind it to comply with all Canon's requests or the blog would be taken down within 48 hours. The company later said that all that would need to be changed would be the use of the Canon logo and the post concerning violence.

The blog writer made the Canon logo so small as to be almost invisible and changed the text of a posting concerning violence but refused to accept Canon's other two charges.

Canon lawyers Loeb and Loeb had said that "the overall look, feel and tone of the Blog… especially in light of Mr Westfall's role at Canon, is calculated to mislead recipients as to the source of the material contained therein".

The blog writer disputed that. "There is nothing misleading about the source of the information on this blog," he wrote. "As stated earlier, everyone knows this site is fake. The url has 'fake' in it, the header has a huge red FAKE in it. It was clear from the start that this blog is satire."

Canon's lawyers also objected to a mention of the name of Westfall's wife and daughter, which they called "outrageously privacy invasive".

The blog writer said, though, that he was doing no more than what the real Westfall does in a regular piece in Digital Journalist, in which his biography of himself contains exactly that information.

"On the personal side, Chuck married his beautiful wife Ying in 2000 and they have been blessed with a wonderful 2-year old daughter, Anna. As Chuck says, 'Bringing up the baby is a blast, and we're enjoying every minute of it'," says the biography on that page.

"The identification of my wife and daughter [sic] is not privacy-invasive at all, since I have been mentioning them in my Tech Tips over at the Digital Journalist for years. It’s information that is public, for years," said the blog writer.

The legal threat claimed that the following paragraph represented "threats of physical violence towards our client and its current employees, including Mr Westfall".

"Do you think they’ll listen to me if I come in one day at the office and start bashing their heads with a two by four? Or perhaps I could also come in with a shotgun and lots of ammo and start shooting in the wild. I’m not going to kill anyone, just scare the ever loving crap out of them and show them I mean business now. Do you think that would make a difference?"

The blogger changed that paragraph to: "Do you think they’ll listen to me if I come in one day at the office and start dancing ballet in front of them? Or perhaps I could also come in with a watergun and lots of water and start spraying in the wild. I’m not going to make anyone wet, just scare the ever loving crap out of them and show them I mean business now. Do you think that would make a difference?"

He published the changes, keeping the original on the site for comparison.

The writer also posted a blog entry as Fake Chuckk Westfall with a graph showing a massive spike in traffic following the controversy.

"We hired the marketing experts at Loeb & Loeb, and they came up with a brilliant plan to promote the blog online," he wrote. "And as you can see from the image above, after the implementation of their plan, traffic to my blog increased exponentionally. [sic]"

See: The Fake Chuck Westfall

Copyright © 2009, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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