Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Friday 14/11/2003I know people are getting increasingly protective of their legal rights online, and that over-enthusiastic lawyers are nothing new. But goings-on in Toronto bring new meaning to seeking relief for a wrongdoing.

Friday 14/11/2003
I know people are getting increasingly protective of their legal rights online, and that over-enthusiastic lawyers are nothing new. But goings-on in Toronto bring new meaning to seeking relief for a wrongdoing.

First, some background.  There's a site called urinal.net which pulls together pictures of urinals from around the world for no other reason than it can. It's popular among people who appreciate this sort of low-key surrealism -- I wholeheartedly count myself among them -- and while it serves no useful purpose whatsoever it also does no harm. If you want pictures of Armitage Shanks, it knows no rival.

But it does have enemies. According to Mike Masnick on the Techdirt blog, the site recently received a request from the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) concerning two pictures of urinals at the Toronto Lester B. Pearson International Airport. There was nothing exceptional about those pictures -- which you can see here -- but nonetheless, the GTAA decided, it was Bad and probably Illegal to identify them. So it demanded that the name of the airport be removed.

The site, somewhat bemused, complied -- renaming the page: "The urinals of an airborne vessel take-off and landing facility located in Canada's largest city," but made sure to tell its readers that this was due to a complaint by the GTAA. Uh-oh! Back came another letter, saying that it was also Bad and probably Illegal to mention the GTAA and its part in this peculiar cesspool censorship. Of course, being good online neighbours and unwilling to test this principle at law, the site once again complied with equal joie de vivre.

It is thus refreshing to report that we have at last first-hand proof that some organisations really do know how to take the pissoir.

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