Facebook in Pakistan: some sensitive issues

The IPKat's friend Arpan Banerjee has drawn his attention to this piece in The Telegraph concerning the launch in Pakistan of a "rival Facebook" under the name MillatFacebook, taking its name from the Urdu term for 'freedom'. According to the article, the intention of its backers was to register their disapproval of the images of the Muslim prophet and to offer an alternative to a site that has also been criticised for its lax and confusing privacy controls.

Following large demonstrations in Pakistan, objecting that the US-based social networking site was hosting a contest calling for cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, a national court ordered local ISPs to block access to Facebook's social networking site last week. Similar blocking orders have been made against YouTube, Wikipedia and other services, alleging blasphemous content (the article reports that Muslims argue that any representation of the Prophet Mohammed is blasphemous).

MillatFacebook's designers, who have expressed the hope that their site will attract people of all faiths, admit it shares some of the same features of its better-known template:
"In fact, from the blue navigation panel to the map of the world, the login page bears a remarkable similarity to Facebook".
In this context Arpan asks:
1. Can passing off be alleged? Despite the similarity in logos, there doesn't seem to be confusion or deception in case of these "protest products";

2. In the case of Millatfacebook, is the decision of the European Court of Justice in LTJ Diffusion (the ARTHUR ET FELICIE case) relevant?

3. If copyright infringement is alleged, to what extent is Facebook's interface protectable as an artistic work?

4. What about a freedom of speech/satire defence?

5. Can "blasphemous" websites like Facebook lose their IP privileges for breaching public morals ? What about countries with Islamic constitutions which place great importance on public morals?
Wonders Arpan, who also draws the Kats' attention to another 'protest product, Mecca Cola, "Perhaps your readers in Pakistan and other Muslim countries can enlighten us".

Millat here
Millet here and here
Mullet here and here
Mollet here
Facebook in Pakistan: some sensitive issues Facebook in Pakistan: some sensitive issues Reviewed by Jeremy on Monday, May 31, 2010 Rating: 5


  1. I would say, forget the legal issues, it is probably unenforceable in pakistan. i mean if 12 ordinary pakistanis get ahold of it, fuggetabout it. that being said, they would have an open and shut case in america, and they can bring the case in america.

    As for parody and the like, um, what parody. nor can you really call it a protest site. They aren't protesting they are competing.

    Btw, the lawyer for millatfacebook, also happens to be one of the lawyers leading the charge to have facebook banned in pakistan. http://everyonedrawmohammed.blogspot.com/2010/05/oh-this-is-interesting.html

    That being said, its funny that millat means "freedom" if that is true, given that this is less free than actual facebook.

  2. so the site's run by a lawyer! lol


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