Metrolink Sues Metrolinkrider.com for Domain Name and Loses

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At a Time When Transit Agencies Are Fighting For Every Dollar, Metrolink Wastes Money Suing Bloggers

This week’s LA Weekly has a fascinating expose on Metrolink’s ham-handed attempt to silence bloggers by dragging them in front of international courts.  I wish this were an April Fool’s story, but it isn’t.  The story’s author, Max Taves, abandons any pretense of objectivity slamming Metrolink as a "Paranoid Transit Agency" before we even get to the text of the piece.   After reading the story, I can’t say I blame him.

 And the story is basically this.  Desperate to shut down a website that is critical of its policies, Metrolink filed suit against Bob Arkow because his website was a violation of international copyright laws.  You see, the website’s name is MetrolinkRider.com and Metrolink claimed that people might think the site was an official
Metro message board.  Metrolink also sued for the domain metrolinksucks.com which doesn’t have a website attached to it yet, but is also owned by Arkow.  Metrolink must have a pretty low
opinion of its riders…that or members of its board and staff are
going to be shocked to hear that Kobe Bryant doesn’t spend his off days updating the links at this website.  Don’t panic Camino, Metrolink lost its case in front of the United Nations’ World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) court earlier this month.

Despite this setback, Metrolink is sticking to their guns and refusing to apologize for what is clearly a gross violation of Arkow’s right to free speech.  According to LA Weekly:

Yet Metrolink’s Francisco Oaxaca doesn’t regret spending public money
and L.A. County lawyers’ time trying to shut down Arkow’s small sites.
He sees it as merely a trial run in silencing other bloggers and Web
sites.

“I don’t think it was a mistake,” Oaxaca says. “If we do this again,
we’ll have more information than if we hadn’t tried it, to see what is
the most effective way to protect our trademark.” He promises that
Metrolink is “considering actions against other domain-name holders.”

It must be reassuring for Metrolink passengers to hear that agency that just raised fares for the second time this year isn’t wasting money on frivolous expenses. 

Say what you want about Metro, but I could never see them tilting at windmills like this.  As a matter of fact, their press department always returns my calls and even does outreach when there’s an event they wish to promote.  I don’t think anyone that reads Streetsblog thinks I go easy on Metro as a result, but by treating each other as professionals, blogger journalists and public agencies can develop a mutually beneficial relationship.

Or you agencies and bloggers can go to war with each other and the world will be full of websites named (nameofyouragency)sucks.com.

Image: Atwater Village Newbie/Flickr 

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