May 25, 2011, 4:12 PM — Eight Chinese writers and video producers living in New York have filed a lawsuit against China's Baidu search engine, arguing that its censorship of the Internet violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Good luck with that one.
While there's no doubt that China's Internet censorship is noxious and antithetical to freedom of expression, I suspect there's not much legal precedent supporting the enforcement of U.S. constitutional principles in China. The world is funny that way.
From the Asia Times:
The group of writers and video producers say their work, which promotes democracy movements in China, can be found easily through search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft's Bing, and Google's video-sharing service YouTube, but not through Baidu.
Stephen Preziosi, a lawyer for the group, estimated US$2 million of damages per plaintiff, for a total of $16 million, and said the sum could rise because the number of violations could grow as his clients keep writing, and the incidents of suppression keep increasing.
The lawsuit was filed on May 18 in New York. And just to give the Reds a taste of justice, U.S.-style, the writers also are suing China's ruling Communist Party, "accusing it of conspiring to suppress their political speech, in violation of the First Amendment and various civil and human-rights laws," Asia Times reports.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu accurately summed up the situation in a press briefing, according to Asia Times: "Foreign courts have no jurisdiction in China."
Usually the only ones who win in lawsuits such as this are the attorneys who get to charge enormous fees. But again, we're talking about a bunch of writers and video producers here, folks. They probably have to pool their resources to buy a Trenta-sized iced coffee in a Manhattan Starbucks.
Let's hope Preziosi is working pro bono, because there's no pot of gold at the end of this legal rainbow.