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wbai.net press release 2-20-01

Patty Heffley patty@inch.com



Public Citizen Litigation Group http://www.citizen.org, a public interest law firm Founded by Ralph Nader in Washington, D.C., has agreed to represent the defendants in the latest attack by the Pacifica Foundation against Free Speech advocates.

Patty Heffley, a multimedia producer in New York City and a member of the group Coalition for a democratic Pacifica-New York chapter (CdP-NY), has maintained the WBAI Listeners Network website WBAI.net http://www.wbai.net continuously since 1997. Epstein Becker & Green is the law firm retained by the Pacifica Foundation to defend itself against multiple lawsuits whose allegations include that the directors of the Foundation sit on the Foundation's board of directors illegally. Plaintiffs have filed those lawsuits based on their concerns about the apparent efforts to liquidate the radio broadcasting assets of the Pacifica Foundation in apparent violation of state and federal law.

Ms. Heffley has issued a sharply worded response to attorneys at the law firm Epstein Becker & Green. In her response Ms. Heffley indicates that should this matter go to court, she will seek award from the court of attorneys fees against plaintiff's attorneys personally (rather than against their client, the Pacifica Foundation).

This action by Ms. Heffley thus seeks to protect the donations made in good faith to the Pacifica Foundation by listeners who may be unaware of the pending lawsuits against the Pacifica Foundation, the union-busting business of the Foundation's law firm, or the extraordinary breach of ethics whereby an Epstein Becker & Green employee (attorney John Murdock) is a defendant in those lawsuits by virtue of his seat on the board of directors of the Pacifica Foundation.

Ms. Heffley is outraged at the apparent willingness of Epstein Becker & Green to file lawsuits against Free Speech advocates who espouse support for the very principals upon which Epstein Becker & Green's client bases its operating principles. Federal lawsuits generate enormous fees for corporate union-busting law firms such as Epstein Becker & Green. This case seeks to end the ethical conflict whereby well-intentioned listeners fund the apparent liquidation of the network they've built with their hard-earned dollars throughout the 51 year long history of the Pacifica Network.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION Epstein, Becker & Green, which uses its own website to brag about its "defense" of the "right" of employers to stop legal unionizing efforts, issued a desist letter on behalf of the Pacifica Foundation to Ms. Heffley on February 9, 2001. That letter made a formal demand that Ms. Heffley immediately close down the website http://www.wbai.net. WBAI.net has a long track record in support of First Amendment rights, Free Speech Radio in the United States and worldwide, and the discussion of issues related to WBAI 99.5 FM, the New York affiliate of the Pacifica Foundation.

Even cursory review of the relevant case law, as well as the relevant guidelines posted by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) at http://www.icann.org/udrp/udrp.htm suggests that the operators of WBAI.net are engaged in fair use of the domain name WBAI.net. Thus the efforts by Epstein Becker & Green appear to be a clumsy attempt to intimidate Ms. Heffley into closing down a site with a long record of support for the very principles now under attack by the Pacifica Foundation, which is a client of Epstein Becker & Green. Ms. Heffley fully intends to fight for the right to use the domain name WBAI.net to support people working for Free Speech Radio in New York City, throughout the Pacifica network, and around the globe.

WBAI has always been more than a corporate name. It has also been the voice of listeners. WBAI.net represents some of those voices and right now is an especially critical time for them to be heard. It's pretty clear that the Pacifica Foundation is annoyed with the contents of the website http://www.wbai.net. But it's also clear to anyone who simply looks at the website that this is NOT a website belonging to WBAI management. This website is, and will continue to be, for the listeners. This latest clumsy attempt to intimidate Ms. Heffley verifies that individuals running Pacifica perceive Free Speech as a threat, rather than as a cornerstone of the mission of the Pacifica Foundation.

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