Chilling piece on copyright legislation must read
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Demand Progress and at least one academic are sounding the alarm about a copyright infringement bill that could cost some of us our free speech.
Dan Gillmor, author of We the Media and director of the Knight Center of Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University, wrote a chilling article about the “Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act” in Salon. Simply put, he calls it “yet another dishonest conflating of infringement and counterfeiting, but that’s standard for lawmakers.”
In essence, the law would allow sites that are deemed to be infringing on copyright to be blocked by Internet Service Providers. The problem is the legislation is currently written very broadly. Demand Progess, a Progressive campaigning site founded by Aaron Swartz, has an excellent fact sheet on the legislation here. That means that sites the courts have already deemed as not violating copyright could be blocked under the new legislation.
Gillmor argues that most of us haven’t heard of the bill because corporate media has a vested interest in its passage.
Quite frankly, the fact that Gillmor is concerned about the impact of this legislation is enough for me. I have great respect for him and his work. If he’s worried, I’m worried.
I Guess My Dad is NOT The Stig …
The Media Law Case of the Week involves a secret identity and international intrigue.
Fans of the BBC‘s “Top Gear” show have been wondering for years who The Stig is. The Stig races cars on the popular British show that showcases and tests automobiles in a variety of unique and humorous ways. The Stig is covered from head to toe, including a visored helmet.
Now, despite “Top Gear”‘s court efforts to stop the revelation, The Stig’s identity is known, according to the Telegraph. “Top Gear” wanted to keep The Stig’s identity a secret, but a court has ruled the show cannot stop the publication of The Stig’s book.
So who is The Stig? Check it out here.
I guess it’s not my dad after all …
Media Law Musings
Here are a few gems related to media law that I’ve run into lately. These are the kind of finds I love to mention in media law classes because everyone has heard of the parties involved or because, quite frankly, of the “strange” factor.
- Droid: Did you know that Lucasfilm Ltd. of Star Wars fame owns the trademark to the word Droid, the name of the Verizon Wireless phone you see advertised everywhere? I noticed at the end of one such ad a disclaimer that “Droid” was the trademark of Lucasfilm Ltd. Verizon Wireless licenses it. Wikipedia tells more.
- The Naked Cowboy versus The Naked Cowgirl: The Naked Cowboy says he trademarked the Naked Cowboy brand and she is violating it. I don’t know what’s better: the fact the CNN anchor refers to Robert Burck, a.k.a. the Naked Cowboy, repeatedly as “Naked” as if that were his name or the fact the cowboy sings an answer. Trust me, it’s worth your time to watch.
- “Barbie, Political Philosopher”: Tom W. Bell writes on The Technology Liberation Front blog about a great line the Barbie character in Toy Story 3 had. He put the quote on a T-shirt (pictured in his post) and carefully notes why he does not think he is violating any copyright or trademark. Good luck, Mr. Bell. I’d love one of those shirts, but I can’t see the companies not asking you to stop.
Politicians in trouble over alleged theft of works
You find yourself troubled by politicians using others’ works without permission.
You may ask yourself, “What is wrong with them?”
You may tell yourself these politicians do not represent you.
“Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.”
Forgive me, Talking Heads, for my horrible parody of “Once in a Lifetime.” At least I am acknowledging it and being clear you had nothing to do with it — unlike a certain political candidate in Florida.
David Byrne, former singer of Talking Heads, is suing Florida Gov. Charlie Christ for using “Road to Nowhere” in a campaign commercial without his permission. Byrne is seeking $1 million.
Sadly, Christ is not the only one accused of stealing intellectual property. According to the Washington Post, Idaho Congressional Candidate Vaughn Ward, who has Sarah Palin’s support, is accused of plagiarizing an Obama speech.
See for yourself. The evidence is unbelievably damning.
‘Brothers’ name leads to trademark issue
The Media Law Case of the Week features the little guy taking on a big restaurant chain.
Jim Karagas opened My Brother’s Bar 30 years ago in Denver, according to the Denver Business Journal. Now a chain of restaurants called Brothers Bar and Grill wants to open an eatery in Denver, and it has filed a complaint in U.S. District Court asking for permission to use “Brothers” in its name. Karagas says he is worried about confusion.
Here’s hoping the little guy wins this one
Journajunkie Back in Business
I apologize for the break. Sometimes, as you know, life gets in the way of, well, life. But now Journajunkie is back.
Here’s an idea so great I wish I had thought of it. Webbmedia created a google calendar that lists nothing but social media and journalism conferences.
You can search by month or week, get details on individual conferences and even download the entry to your own calendar. Beautiful. Thanks to @jeffjarvis and @knightfdn for tweeting about this calendar.
Beyond the Newsroom: Blogging and Rethinking
Here are the top three ideas I left Day One of the Beyond the Newsroom seminar with: (The seminar is sponsored by the American Press Institute with The Poynter Institute.)
- 1. Bloggers and Citizen Journalists are not the enemy. In fact, they could help strengthen newspapers’ bond with their readers and provide valuable content. So says John Wilpers, a veteran journalist who is now working as a consultant. He said journalists shouldn’t think of bloggers as replacements. Instead, think of them as covering something journalists don’t. Journalists are still needed, but so are bloggers. He noted that in his experience, some bloggers he has worked with became the best word-of-mouth advertisers for the newspaper. He convinced me.
- 2. There are innovative journalists out there taking chances — and succeeding. Susan Goldberg, editor of The Plain Dealer, described how eight newspapers in Ohio share stories and work on projects together. What makes this surprising is these newspapers have different owners. Goldberg described how this sharing has allowed them to pay for state-wide polling and provide more depth of coverage on the state as a whole. They don’t share everything. If there is an area of competition, it remains. However, they do share stories daily and run the stories with the original bylines.
- 3. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution for newspapers and online news providers. Butch Ward, managing director and faculty member of The Poynter Institute, noted that each organization is going to have to explore ideas and take a chance on those that might work for it. There is no easy fix to attracting readers and making money.
The seminar continues through Wednesday. I’ll post more highlights here later this week.
Seminar to focus on newspaper newsrooms
Starting tomorrow, I’ll be blogging and tweeting (@marducey) from the Beyond the Newsroom Seminar being sponsored by the American Press Institute and The Poynter Institute.
The seminar focuses on ways newsrooms are tackling providing quality journalism in cash-strapped times. Speakers include author and media blogger Jeff Jarvis of Buzz Machine, and Charles Lewis of the Investigative Reporting Workshop.
I’m looking forward to learning about ideas being worked on in the newsroom trenches and to sharing that with you. I’d be remiss if I did not thank the James H. Ottaway Fellowship program for making it possible for me to attend API’s seminar.
If you are a jounajunkie like me, I encourage you to check out the American Press Institute’s offerings. In addition to opportunities to learn about the newspaper industry, the group offers a number of fellowships to make its programs accessible.
Posted in bloggers, citizen journalism, future of journalism, journalism standards, newspapers, technology
Adult web site claims trademark infringement
A Las Vegas adult escort web site has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against a company that provides background checks for use of the term “date check,” according to the Las Vegas Sun.
Here are the dirty details:
DCAEV Inc., which runs the escort site date-check.com, argues that Intelius is violating its trademark with “DateCheck,” a mobile app that does a background search on, well, your date.
“With DateCheck you know longer have to rely on your intuition or what the guy tells you,” a YouTube ad for the mobile app DateCheck says. “Look up before you hook up.”
DCAEV also claims Intelius is cybersquatting and using deceptive trade practices.
The Las Vegas Sun offers a PDF of the court filing here.
Only in Vegas, baby.
Great place to see coverage of Obama victory
Check out Poynter’s web site for a look at today’s front pages and screen grabs of news sites. It’s a great way to see how this historic election is being covered outside your neck of the woods.
Oh so not teckie
I asked students in one of my classes today how many knew how to do a screen capture. One. One student out of 30 knew how to do a screen capture.
I shouldn’t be shocked, yet it always seems to surprise me when they don’t know tech tools, especially simple ones. Are they just not curious? Are they afraid? Neither attribute is a solid start for a journalist.
I prefer to think they simply believe that some IT/computer whiz works his/her magic and makes all these online things happen. And I’m determined to show them that they, too, can be this mysterious IT/computer whiz. (And I’m happy to report almost all took notes on how to do screen captures.)
Posted in teaching, technology
How many newspaper bigwigs does it take …?
Mark Potts has a hilarious post on the upcoming meeting of newspaper executives to save, well, newspapers.
Anyone who has worked in journalism will understand this …
Posted in Uncategorized
Twitter and newspapers
Tom Cheredar writes an interesting post about how newspapers should use Twitter for a conversation, not just as an alternate RSS feed.
I must confess I like getting links and news through Twitter, but I tend to follow the links sent with personal, conversational comments. It fits right with his research found.
All you ever wanted to know about the U.S. Supreme Court
When I was trolling the web for some free speech legal news, I discovered a New York Times page completely focused on the U.S. Supreme Court.
The page includes everything a multimedia package, bios on the justices, court documents, links to blogs and the usual case updates. For media law junkies like me, it is fabulous.
What will TV news do without newspapers?
The New York Post features a witty yet depressing piece on the fate of TV news if newspapers do, indeed, die (Thanks, Romensko, for pointing this out!).
When I was a newspaper reporter, it used to frustrate our staff that we would write something, turn on the radio and hear the exact same story word for word. The radio reporters at a couple local stations would simply read our stories on the air. (That eventually changed after vocal protests from the then-editor.) The TV reporters in our area would at least do their own stories.
While I was angry then, thinking about the possibility that some TV or radio broadcasters would be left with nothing without newspapers and would be filling the air with who-knows-what while completely missing the boat on news important to the lives of their viewers and listeners makes me even angrier.
One way or another, the news industry has to change. Newspapers have got to find a way to be vital to people’s lives and broadcasters who are troubled by this (as the longtime broadcaster in the NY Post piece was) need to demand better.
Soundslides, my hat’s off to you
I’m going to be teaching my convergence journalism students about Soundslides tomorrow. For those of you who don’t know what it is, here goes. Soundslides is a super easy, super cool way to make slide shows with photos and sound, whether that sound be music or audio of someone speaking.
It wasn’t that long ago Soundslides used to be free. Now you have to pay for it, but it’s well worth it. (Price $40 to $70 depending on how complex you want to get.) You can try out a demo for free.
If you want to learn all the tricks of Soundslides Plus without stumbling through them yourself, here’s a helpful tutorial on the subject.
The Watchdogs are alive …
The New York Times and Los Angeles Times have petitioned to get access to secret government records about the anthrax case from 2001. No word on the ruling yet, but I applaud the effort. This ruined Dr. Stephen Hatfill’s life and just because it happened years ago does not mean journalists should let it drop.
If the government was wrong about Hatfill, a man then Attorney General John Ashcroft labeled “a person of interest” in interviews with numerous TV shows, why should we believe it is right about its accusations against a dead man? Hatfill could and did fight the accusations. Bruce Ivins has no such option.
Oh, and Ashcroft’s folly merely cost taxpayers $5.82 million.
Fascinating Blog Battle on Fate of Newspapers
Bloggers are taking on the American Press Institute’s “crisis summit” on the future of newspapers and one can only hope that in the end the winner will be news consumers.
API’s summit, “Saving an Industry in Crisis,” ended with no real plan or ideas — except to meet again in six months. That no-solution solution got on several bloggers radars–and under their skins. (See Martin Langeveld, Steve Outing, and Kristufek’s We Media.
I’m going to ask my convergence journalism students tomorrow what ideas they would take to a Manhattan project. I’ll let you know the results tomorrow.
Posted in newspapers, technology
Tagged bloggers, future of newspapers
The students of the ‘Manhattan Project’
Following up on yesterday’s debate about the fate of newspapers, I had some of my journalism students get in groups and consider what they would suggest if they were to attend some kind of “Manhattan Project” designed to save newspapers, as Martin Langeveld suggested.
Here are a few of the groups’ ideas:
* “Get public input and make the topic of saving newspapers official, not just scattered on blogs.”
* “A web site for the ‘Manhattan Project’ where innovative and ‘young’ journalists can collaborate and voice their opinions”
* “Take papers away for a week–see how much outrage (or not) there is” (That could be scary. What if there were very little outrage?)
* “Pop-up newspapers–put art/craft things in there”
* “Cheaper editions of papers, with ‘paper boys’ selling these editions on the street for 25 cents”
* “Sell sections separately” and make newspapers “more like a book or magazine”
Several of the groups thought it would be a good idea to have some kind of a “reward system” for newspaper readers. One group suggested, “If you read newspapers, you turn it into a company, get a prize, recycle — like Pizza Hut Book It.”
One response that I as a former newspaper reporter who still loves to get the ink on my hands am having trouble bringing up follows:
“Let it die! The Internet is taking over. Sell ads online.”
Score a victory for the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth has ordered the Justice Department to release information used to get search warrants for the home of a former suspect in the 2001 anthrax case and his then-girlfriend. (See full story.)
Former Army scientist Stephen Hatfill has long since been exonerated, but some of you may remember the search. It was shown live on TV, as were comments by the then-Attorney General John Ashcroft that labeled Hatfill “a person of interest.”
The anthrax case is still making headlines, as the FBI centers its case on former Army scientist Bruce Ivins, a suspect who killed himself.
Scary libel case decision in NJ
A NJ appeals court has ruled a newspaper can be sued for libel for reporting complaints made in court documents before the case goes to court.
Talk about scary. If a journalist can’t report on government records until the government wants it to, what is next?
Cruel and callous
This is a bit off topic, but it angers me. What angers me most is I’m not surprised by this.
As the New York Times reports, a 19-year-old threatened to kill himself online, posted the link, then did it. Instead of trying to stop him, he was reportedly “egged on” by other posters.
This is sick, but it’s just the next step down a sad hill. People have exhibited Internet cruelty for years. My students deal with insults and rumors posted by anonymous fellow students on juicycampus far too often.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m for free speech. I just wish people would use their voices in a responsible way. Like maybe telling a suicidal man to stop. And maybe, just maybe, trying to change the world for the better, not the worse.
Where’s Homer Simpson when you need him…
I am incredibly glad I don’t have to write the “Recession is official” story. Wow, there’s some breaking news. We’re in a recession? Who knew?
Posted in Uncategorized
A valiant effort
The students at the campus newspaper I advise faced a world of tech hell the past 48 hours. Their server crashed and died. Then they found out the backup server also failed. A tech guy put together a makeshift system for them and the people from the company who publish the paper said it should work for outputting the pages. Unfortunately, they were wrong.
After hours of trying to tweak and resend the pages, the editor in chief and executive editor were faced with a horrible decision. Do they put out a print edition with horrible photos and poor quality, or do they cancel the print edition and put out only an online edition?
They chose to do the online edition only. It was a hard choice, but in the end, they didn’t want to put out a bad paper. It was a decision that I think nearly broke some of their hearts.
Their experience highlights some of the best of journalism. If it was going to be bad, they wanted no part of it. They want quality. I hope these standards stick with them throughout their careers and they never settle for less.
Here’s some useful links: