Journal de Mourréal flooded with help offers from lawyers, Mike Ward
Satirical news site hit with injunction from Québecor Media for copying look of Journal de Montréal
A fake news website that's shutting down to avoid a costly legal battle may be getting a lifeline, thanks to pro-bono lawyers and famous local comedian Mike Ward.
Le Journal de Mourréal, a satirical news outlet, announced on Sunday it would close shop after Québecor Media filed a request for an injunction against its creator, Janick Murray-Hall.
The media giant claims the website's name and design were too similar to the Journal de Montréal's and that their "ordinary, rather busy readers" might mix up the two publications.
But 48 hours later, the site's creators said they have received "hundreds" of offers from lawyers willing to represent them in court for no cost.
"We have a hard time just keeping up with the support we're getting," Olivier Legault, one of the website`s authors, told CBC News.
"We can't answer the messages we are receiving right now. But with all the help being offered, we can probably beat Québecor."
The media conglomerate filed two injunctions against Mourréal, one with the World Intellectual Property Organization and one with Quebec Superior Court.
It also demanded the site's owner turn over any profits made on the venture.
Legault thinks a legal battle against Quebecor would cost tens of thousands of dollars.
"It's more a question of principle," Legault said. "We know we'll end up bankrupt afterwards. But now we have weapons to fight [with]."
Another surprising source of support came from comedian Mike Ward, who has been involved in his fair share of conflicts over freedom of expression.
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On his Facebook page, Ward said he would give the proceeds from his upcoming show on Oct. 17 to help with Mourréal's legal costs.
"We knew he had already publicly supported us. We never expected such a huge financial help on his part. Honestly, it's a big relief for us," Legault said.
A spokesperson for Ward said the comedian is not making comments on his pledge.