The google-nest.org address, registered by the Peng Collective, displayed a list of products including ‘Google Bee’ (personal drones), ‘Google Bye’ (an online profile for the afterlife) and ‘Google Hug’ (location-based crowdsourced hug matching).
Two of its members went to the technology conference, Republica, in Berlin earlier this month and purported to be Google employees launching the products.
To help engineer the hoax, three German politicians reacted against Google Nest in the media, and on its first say #googlenest trended in Germany for five hours on Twitter while the site received more than 35,000 hits.
But after Google demanded that Peng revise and remove the site, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has stepped in on the group’s behalf, writing to the search company to express “dismay” about its demands.
“The site is pure political commentary,” says the letter, dated May 16. “US authorities consistently support the basic notion that trademark law does not reach, much less prohibit, this kind of speech regarding a matter of substantial political concern,” it adds.
The letter claims that Peng’s parodying of Google is protected by the fair use doctrine, that internet users would recognise this, and that the site is a non-commercial operation.
But because Peng feels confident it has raised enough awareness about Google’s privacy policies, the letter says, the group has revised the site to discuss the parody, instead of listing the products.
The group will not, however, transfer the domain name to Google, the letter adds, because the revision has “largely met your demands” and it is “important for internet users to have a full document of the hoax and Google’s response, and that such documentation be housed in the most logical place, i.e. at the existing domain name”.
It was written and signed by the EFF’s IP director Corynne McSherry.
On google-nest.org, Peng has documented its story and posted the following message: “We hope this will remain a parody and not become reality.”
A Google spokesman said the company does not comment on legal proceedings.
peng collective, google, google nest, google-nest.org, republica