Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

From Nader and Gravel to Assange: There Are Some Parodies Money Can't Buy [UPDATED]

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, June 30 2011

If you haven't seen the new fundraising video from WikiLeaks, which plays off an old Mastercard commercial, don't miss it. It's smartly done, and doubly effective given that Mastercard is one of the companies that are refusing to process donations to the whistleblowing site. With more than 100,000 views on Vimeo since being posted a few days ago, you have to give Julian Assange credit for knowing how to make a viral video.

What Does it Cost to Change the World? from WikiLeaks on Vimeo.

And if you think Mastercard is likely to sue WikiLeaks for copyright infringement, leaving aside the perverse Streisand effect that would ensue, that story has already been written. Back in 2000, third-party candidate Ralph Nader made this commercial, tweaking both major party candidates for being beholden to big money donors and special interests. He was sued by Mastercard, but four years later won a summary judgment ruling that said his parody was fair use.

And here's former Senator Mike Gravel, using the same "things that money can't buy" frame for an ad his campaign made in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary:

Bill Hillsman, the Minneapolis ad-whiz who made the original Nader "Priceless" parody ad (as well as doing Jesse Ventura's and Paul Wellstone's breakthrough TV commercials back in the 1990s), tells me that he thinks the WikiLeaks version is "pretty good." He adds, "I might have been more specific about the action they want people to take (although they did show someone cutting up a MasterCard)." Noting the past controversy with MasterCard, he also predicted: "It won't be as controversial as the Nader ad, since the courts slam-dunked the MasterCard suit vs. Nader and clearly allowed parodies of the commercial approach, but mostly because they don't seem to be using that campaign as omnipresently as they were in 2000."

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

Beyond @Congressedits, Capitol Hill Looks for Entry to Wikipedia

As he recently told techPresident, the creator of Congressedits did not aim to make Members of Congress look bad, but said he hoped that they would recognize the importance of Wikipedia as a public space and engage more with its community. "If staffers and politicians identified as Wikipedians, that would be super. You could imagine politicians' home pages with a list of their recent edits, that they would be proud of the things that they are doing." On Capitol Hill, there is in fact interest in making that vision a reality, starting off with an initial conversation that could create a framework for more Wikipedians in Congress. GO

wednesday >

In the Philippines, Citizens Go Undercover With Bantay to Monitor Public Offices

The Philippines, a country of almost 100 million, is considered among the most corrupt country in Southeast Asia, despite a boost in Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index in the past few years (from 134th in 2010 to 94th in 2013 out of 175.) Corruption involves all levels of government, but benefits also from a mindset of tolerance, says Happy Feraren, the co-founder of Bantay.ph, an anti-corruption educational initiative that teaches citizens how to monitor the quality of government services, sometimes by going undercover. GO

More