Law School Center Takes on FedEx

November/December 2005

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Law School Center Takes on FedEx

Photo: Jose Avila

Jose Avila is a cash-strapped young man from Florida who took his faith in the reliability of FedEx to the extreme. He designed and built functional furniture out of more than 300 FedEx boxes. Avila posted pictures of his apartment furnishings on a website and sent the link to a few friends. By the end of the day, the site had more than 100,000 visitors. By day three, FedEx came calling.

Citing trademark and copyright infringement, the shipping company ordered Avila to take down his website. FedEx invoked a provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that allows Internet service providers to disable access to content identified in a copyright holder’s complaint.

Enter Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society. Part of the Law School’s law, science and technology program, CIS houses a cyber­law clinic offering pro bono legal represen­ta­tion to clients like Avila who find themselves caught in the brave—and legally murky—new world of digital media.

The CIS countered that charges of infringement “do not allow [FedEx] to take advantage of the powerful remedy provided under the DMCA.” In her August 9 response letter, Jennifer Granick, executive director of the CIS, claimed FedEx is “improperly flexing their muscles in an effort to censor Mr. Avila.” At press time, the CIS was awaiting FedEx’s reply.

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