The Popehat Signal is lit. This is not a drill.

Looking for pro bono counsel to assist a satirical website in defending against a vexatious legal threat in Maryland.

/2 I previously wrote about the threat -- written by @SteinSperling on behalf of Olney Community Baseball Team Inc., which is bringing a Cal Ripken Collegiate League team to Olney, Maryland.

/3 The threat is against a satirical web site -- which clearly repeatedly labels itself as satirical -- based on an obviously satirical article -- about the new team.

There is no remotely plausible or ethical argument that this article is defamatory.…
/4 Nor is there a remotely plausible or ethical argument that the satirical article about the still-unnamed team is somehow a violation of intellectual property rights. You can use somebody's name in ridiculing them. Only a dim or dishonest lawyer would say otherwise.
/5 "You can beat the rap, but you can't beat the ride," cops say: even if you are eventually vindicated, we can ruin you getting there. That's the message of totally bogus legal threats like this -- enjoy your "First Amendment rights" because we will bankrupt you for using them.
/6 Maryland has a terrible anti-SLAPP statute that won't help. If the First Amendment is to be defended here, this modest satirical site needs pro bono help. Otherwise, it's another case of "you have as many rights as rich people and their unethical lawyers permit you to have."
/7 If you are a lawyer practicing in Maryland and willing to give the site a hand, please let me know and I will connect you with them.

But even if you're not a lawyer, there's a way you can help -- by using the First Amendment to spread this message ... and to speak.
/8 This Onley team is apparently coming because Olney Community Baseball Team Inc. has made an agreement with the Olney Boys and Girls Community Sports Association and Koa Sports.

Do you think they made a good choice in the character of their partner?…
/9 I don't. I think that a company that would make such a preposterously bumptious, unethical, bogus threat is a bad, un-American citizen. If you agree, you could tell those organizations in writing. Be brief, polite, and DO NOT BE RUDE OR ABUSIVE. DO NOT CALL THEM.
/10 Here is the contact for the organizations in question.…
/11 The system is broken. Sometimes that renders the protections of the First Amendment more theoretical than actual. Attorneys generously donating time and effort (as many do) can fight that. So can non-attorneys by speaking up. Please help if you can.
/12 Coda: I hope that Olney Community Baseball Team Inc.'s attorneys warned them that the natural and probable consequences of this threat was the Streisand Effect and the evisceration of their reputation.

If not, they may find this resource helpful.…
/13 Update: five attorneys have offered pro bono services so far. Thanks for being First Amendment heroes. Always helpful to have more to share the load, though, so please keep writing.
/14 Today in "hire lawyers who aren't morons"…
/16 I mean, I guess we can give this lawyer kudos for waiting for his statement to the Washington Post to dramatically undermine his own threat, as opposed to doing that within the text of the threat itself, like some

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This argument by the team's lawyer reflects a lack of familiarity with fundamental legal concepts in this area.
/3 Specifically, (1) the point of satire is some people fall for it, and (2) whether it's understood as satire or literal is determined by the point of view of people familiar with the satirical publication.

Like the World Net Daily/walrus abuse case.…
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I hope someone more knowledgeable than I am (meaning nearly anyone) can explain the context, but this seems like a really reckless time to parachute into Brazil to start shit.…
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