San Diego, CA -- March 21, 1998 -- When Fruit of the Loom's legal department issued a cease and desist to a small independent website, it was doubtful they anticipated the ensuing backlash from the web community at large.

On March 2nd, Fruit of the Loom gave John Halcyon Styn, creator of Prehensile Tales (http://www.prehensile.com), five days to remove his parody of the garment maker entitled "Meat of The Loom".

"You'd think a company that used grown men in fruit costumes in their TV ads would have a better sense of humor." said Styn, "They should have gone after the guy in their Marketing Department who approved those ads. He did far more to tarnish their trademark than I ever could."

Believing his article was protected as parody, Styn decided to fight the order on the battlefield he created it for: the Web. After contacting other independent web publishers, within 48 hours over 100 websites had pledged support to his cause. Banners, saying, "Freedom of Speech doesn't end at an elastic waistband - Support your right to be funny" blanketed the web. Styn contacted a lawyer and filed a "Declaratory Relief" action against Fruit of the Loom in federal court.

Sites pledging their support ranged from personal home pages to Online Magazines and prominent web development firms. Participating sites added banners and pointed their visitors to Styn's site to help spread the word about the potential censorship threat.

Jeffrey Zeldman, publisher of "Ask Dr. Web," gave a day by day commentary of the struggle on his site, "This may seem like much ado about a few silly underwear jokes, but much is at stake."

Thanks to the support of the web community, over the 2 week period following the Cease and Desist, The www.prehensile.com site received over a quarter million visitors. Prior to the legal action, less than 1500 people had read the story in the 8 months it was posted on-line.

Prompted by this increase in traffic to a site they had hoped to squelch, and bowing to the pressure of web-wide community opinion, Fruit of the Loom's legal department relented on March 17, 1998. Just 15 days after issuing the Cease and Desist, the company's P.R. department sent Styn a friendly letter, informing him that they would not be pursuing legal action against him or his site. All correspondence is published on his website at www.prehensile.com.

Styn reflected, "I think big companies adopt a 'You can't afford to fight us' attitude and try to intimidate small publishers like me. The power and community of the web has proven them wrong."

Styn, 26, created the satirical Prehensile Tales 2 years ago and publishes a new story about popular culture every Monday.

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John Halcyon Styn

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Prehensile Tales prefers boxers.

Copyright © 1998 Prehensile Tales.

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