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Lawsuit Brought By MySpace Founder to Halt MySpace’s Increasingly Aggressive Censorship Activities

Brad Greenspan filed a lawsuit today in Federal District Court in Los Angeles thru his LiveUniverse company, accusing News Corp’s MySpace of ramping up the practice of censoring MySpace users from using or even mentioning the name on their profile pages of products or websites that News Corp deems to be competitive or a source of information adverse to News Corp.

The lawsuit makes use of the law in the United States to protect companies and consumers from the attempts by MySpace to illegally create a monopoly and extend its dominance of the internet social networking market.

MySpace, since being taken over by News Corp, has used this mass censorship technique in the past against some of the larger services such as YouTube and Revver before user revolts forced MySpace to temporarily reverse censoring these services. More recently, MySpace has begun targeting and censoring smaller competitors such as social networking startup Stickam.com and vidiLife.com, the social networking and video site launched by Brad Greenspan over a year ago. It is clear that News Corp and MySpace are determined to destroy competing video, photo, and social networking products as they seek to launch and dominate with their own products, while destroying MySpace users’ freedom of choice.

MySpace blocks usage of the products it deems competitive and goes a step further by effectively slapping gags on the mouths of the over 100 million MySpace users by replacing any attempts by users to type the url of sites like ’stickam.com’ or ’vidilife.com’ into a blog or profile with ’

In addition to News Corp’s crackdown on freedom of expression on MySpace, the MySpace users that over the past couple of years have spent considerable time and effort uploading their video, photo, and other media to outside websites like Photobucket.com, Imageshack.us, and Slide.com, are now in imminent danger of losing the ability to use these services to manage and enhance their MySpace pages.

The goal of the lawsuit is to force News Corp and MySpace to agree to permanently end their current and growing practice of mass censorship on the MySpace service which harms consumers freedom of expression and choice while stifling technological innovation that benefits all consumers.

The lawsuit is but one mechanism being employed to hopefully force News Corp to permanently end what is the start of incredibly disturbing behavior. However, MySpace users and the public at large need to send a message to News Corp that censorship is wrong!

MySpace users can mobilize today and send a message to News Corp and the guys directly responsible for carrying out this evil censorship and demanding they stop harming MySpace user’s rights!

To that end, Brad Greenspan also announced today that he has launched a watch dog web site, CensorSpace.com, to monitor and expose organizations such as News Corp that censor user content and compromise open and independent communities.

Users may visit CensorSpace to learn more about today’s actions and how they can mobilize to support efforts to stop News Corp and MySpace’s censorship activities.

Greenspan also pledged that 100% of the financial awards (less any taxes owed) that arise from this MySpace litigation are to be donated to organizations that fight censorship.

The legal filing asserts that News Corp’s MySpace, by preventing competing social networking sites and video hosting services from having an adequate opportunity effectively to compete for business in the Internet-based social networking website market, "has engaged in intentional acts directed to the maintenance and extension of its monopoly" and "is attempting to monopolize the market for Internet-based social networking, and there is a dangerous probability that MySpace will achieve monopoly power." The lawsuit also states that MySpace has "engaged in ’unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business practices.’"

When Murdoch’s News Corp acquired MySpace in September 2005 there were concerns from MySpace members and others that News Corp’s business interests would undermine MySpace’s commitment to being an open and independent community dedicated to putting the interests of its members first.

Since News Corp’s acquisition of MySpace, there have been various reports of the censoring of content, including the following examples: Earlier this month, it was reported by Mashable.com that MySpace is blocking Stickam.com webcam codes. January 2006, MySpace disabled links to Revver, a rival site. MySpace eventually reinstated Revver links following public complaints. In 2005 and 2006, MySpace also reportedly turned off a MySpace blog forum where MySpace users were discussing the censorship issues. In December 2005, MySpace disabled links to content hosted by YouTube. MySpace, under pressure from its users, eventually re-enabled the YouTube links.

On the CensorSpace.com website, a video link featuring Mike McGuire, a former MySpace investor expressing concerns about the News Corp’s acquisition of MySpace is posted in order to demonstrate how MySpace is censoring third party video links. Anyone with a MySpace personal profile who attempts to link this video to their MySpace profile will be able to see how MySpace is censoring such third party video content links.

 [November 3, 2006]


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