Of all things that people love to vent about on Facebook, Northeast resident Matt Peterson's "I Hate the Pedal Pub" really struck a nerve.
Peterson's page has united more than 3,000 internet strangers over their mutual disdain for pedal pubs, those ubiquitous bicycle bars that weave through traffic like intoxicated human centipedes, clogging downtown streets.
A year and a half ago, "Pedal Pub Party Bikes" from the Netherlands, which has a branch in the Twin Cities, actually retained a lawyer to shut down "I Hate the Pedal Pub," the main place where people liked to air those things.
The lawyer's scary and serious cease-and-desist letter to Peterson accused his page of trademark infringement because at the time, Peterson was making stickers and t-shirts declaring his hate for the Pedal Pub. It also told Peterson to back off encouraging physical harm against Pedal Pub employees or renters, which the page did, but only in a tongue-in-cheek way.
Facebook heeded Pedal Pub's complaints, discontinuing Peterson's page with a message that advised him to negotiate with the "complaining party." For a year and half "I Hate the Pedal Pub" hibernated in censorship limbo. In the meantime, Peterson consulted some legal minds on his own. He learned that Pedal Pub was probably bluffing, since copyright law doesn't restrict the kind of social commentary Peterson was carrying out.
He re-appealed to Facebook, making his free-speech claim with a few extra smiley faces thrown in. Facebook then reinstated "I Hate the Pedal Pub" after processing his appeal.
"It's really just to poke fun and make a point of how stupid the whole thing is in the first place," Peterson says. "They're just a group of obnoxious people."
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