Clear Channel Communications recently settled out of court with an online independent radio station over one of its affiliated Web sites called www.clearchannelsucks.net.
It appears Clear Channel wasn’t upset that its name was in an unflattering URL address as much as it was concerned that the Web site directed visitors to RadioAid.com, which provides an alternative to FM radio.
“RadioAid.com agreed to stop using a similar trademark to ours for commercial purposes, which was a clear violation of law,” a Clear Channel spokesman told the San Antonio Express-News. “We continue to respect their First Amendment right to operate the site as an educational tool.”
As part of the settlement, RadioAid.com agreed to keep the clearchannelsucks.net site separate, and will not run advertising or sponsorship on it. Likewise, visitors cannot be forwarded to RadioAid.com, according to the Express-News, and RadioAid.com cannot transfer the Web site to another entity.
“I think this is a great win for independent artists and confirms RadioAid’s right to criticize a high-profile competitor in the music industry,” RadioAid.com attorney Orlesia Hawkins told the paper. “Trademark rights are important. However, they have to be balanced with an individual’s right to criticize.”
Austin, Texas, physical therapist Rob Vining, who owns both sites, said he filed a federal lawsuit against Clear Channel last year after the conglomerate was given rights to clearchannelsucks.net in arbitration.
“They had a problem of us using their name and possibly making money off of it,” Vining told the Express-News. “They said our Web site didn’t have enough negative content to be used as a gripe site.”
So, Vining will be looking for more negative stories about Clear Channel to keep the Web address a “gripe site.”