Who's the Real Fake?

Oh what a tangled web: "Two giant companies are struggling to shut down parody websites that portray them unfavorably, interrupting internet use for thousands in the process, and filing a lawsuit that pits the formidable legal department of PR giant Burson-Marsteller against a freshman at Hampshire College," writes Paul Hardin (the freshman in question). It all began when The Yes Men, a group of activist pranksters, began to impersonate representatives of the World Trade Organization and found that corporate lawyer types actually couldn't tell the difference when they gave speeches advocating vote-selling, banning siestas in Spain, and Nazi economics - or even when someone gave a talk wearing a golden leotard with a three-foot phallus. Now the parodies have begun to proliferate, with Dow Chemical taking possession of a fake apology for Bhopal, and Burson-Marsteller discovering that Hardin owns the domain name to bursonmarsteller.com.