Archive for August 12th, 2003

Sosumi: Copyright Questions from a Blogger


Last summer I had a law student named Sosumi. Really. This summer
I have again been spending 4 hours a day in a basement room with a dozen
lawyers, an obligation
days to
run and which I will miss as much as I celebrate its ending. As a result,
I have
been thinking a lot about legal matters. Specifically, about the possible
ramifications of publishing all of this bizarre shit on a server at the
Harvard Law School.

As a non-lawyer, I am the first to admit when my ignorance matches my
interest and ask for advice and counsel from the experts. Which I plan
to do on
Thursday at the next meeting of the Open Blogger’s Workgroup, where there
are many wise minds and experienced web-publishers. In the meantime,
I am blogging this as a way to organize my thoughts and solicit additional

Like most educators I habitually claim blanket absolution in the Fair
Use exception to exclusive rights. Between that and Dave’s E-TAG site
(Everything That’s Available on Google), I felt pretty secure. But spending
the summer with the devious minds of a group of lawyers has instilled
the fear of God in me, and so I recently ventured into the actual code
to "Fair use":

US Code TITLE 17 >CHAPTER 1 > Sec. 107.

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is
a fair use the factors to be considered shall include –

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is
of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

[my blog is 100 % non-commercial. No ads, hosted on an edu
server. In addition, I use it regularly to communicate with my students,
collect comments, post assignments, arguments and links to articles and
law blogs]

  (2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

[this is my main area of current concern, and a five-part
hypothetical is posed below concerning a variety of work natures]
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to
the copyrighted work as a whole;

[I have a few questions about this one, too. Mainly, if
I take 98% of an article from a copyright protected publication like a
newspaper, which includes several hundred articles, does that count as
98% of the copyrighted work or 0.5%?]
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the
copyrighted work.

[I feel fairly confident on number 4 as well, as the idea
that any supposed readers of my blog would refrain from purchasing the
original sources of any of my stories after reading the Dowbrigade is,
frankly, ludicrous.]

Now, returning to number 2, please check out this hypothetical concerning
linking to or independently posting (copying) copyright material of various

Q: What would be the hypothetical liability of an innocent (until proven
guilty) academic blogger who appropriated the following materials:

[Before going any further with these examples let me categorically state
for the record that I have never personally engaged in any of the activities
described therein and that the specific instances are wholly fictitious
and made up]

A: Copying the lead paragraph of a newspaper article from a public access
site and posting it with a sentence or two of commentary and a link to
the complete article.

B: Copying significant portions, with commentary, of a subscription-based
internet publication like the New York Times. (Does it make a difference
if I grab the article off of their RSS feed? Doesn’t its presence on the
RSS feed indicate they WANT people to repost?)

C: Copying and linking to an article in a for-pay subscription publication
like the Chronicle of Higher Ed, which I have accessed through Lexis-Nexis,
to which I have access through my University’s site license.

D: Copying a photo from a news source like MSNBC. Copying a photo from
Google image search. (Does it make a difference if I copy the Google thumbnail
-which is often just the right size- and not the "original" image in situ?)

E: Publicly available documents like Press Releases, court records or financial

I would really be interested in what people who know more about this stuff
than I do think about these cases. Of course, it’s probably already too
late for me. Actually, I am waiting for the RIAA to come break my door
down. I figure I owe them a little over $1 Billion dollars and they could
lock me up for 20,000 years.

Must-have Mullet Wigs


For those of you who just can’t
face another day
without a mullet, a hairstyle
which is short on the top, short on the side and long in the back .
For the closet trailer trash, wannabe towtruck drivers and unrepentant
rockers, the Original
Mullet Wigs ($19.95) are priceless.


Unabomber Wants His Bomb Back


SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Convicted
Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski wants the U.S. government to return a
pipe bomb and other items seized from his Montana cabin so that they
can be used for "research," according to court papers made
public on Monday

Kaczynski, serving a life sentence for killing three people and injuring
23 others in a 17-year bombing campaign, also asked for his books, personal
papers and chemicals used in making bombs. The court had no immediate
response to the requests.

from Reuters

Act Now to Save File Sharing


You may have read
here or elsewhere about the draconian Author, Consumer and Computer
Owner Protection and Security Act (ACCOPS, HR 2752)
being debated in Congress.  You may be aware that you could
spend up to five years in prison, pay a $250,000 fine and lose your
to vote for trading a *single* copyrighted song.

Now there’s something you can do to make your opinion heard on this crucial
issue. The Electronic
Frontier Foundation
has made
is easy to send a letter to your congressman. Check it out NOW, before
it’s too late.

Missing Miss Vietnam


Vietnam Missing, Believed Kidnapped

Relatives of Vietnam’s reigning beauty queen, who disappeared a week
ago, say they believe she was kidnapped by her boyfriend to stop her
moving to Britain to study.

Trieu Kim Oanh said her daughter Pham Thi Mai Phuong was forced into
a car last Tuesday by a group of young men as she was leaving an English

The 18-year-old had recently been awarded a scholarship to study at the
University of Luton.

Phuong was crowned Miss Vietnam in September. Communist Vietnam
discouraged beauty contests for years as a sign of capitalist decadence.

Oanh said Phuong’s boyfriend, a policeman and the son of Haiphong Police
Chief Nguyen Binh Doan, had repeatedly said he did not want her to go
to Britain.    from Anaova

Burrito Breath Defense


NORTH PLATTE, Nebraska (AP) — A judge has ruled in favor of a man’s claim
that he had alcohol on his breath not because he drank, but due to his
eating of burritos made with
beer-and-tequila marinated meat.The recipe included one bottle of red Irish
beer, 1 1/2 cups of tequila and three-quarters of a bottle of dark ale.

William Dolge, 45, was accused of violating his work release for having alcohol
on his breath when he returned to jail from his job last month.   from

California Alphabetical Order


How to Run a
Recall: Begin by Juggling the Alphabet

SACRAMENTO – The race to replace Gov. Gray Davis, often likened to a
carnival, looked more like a political version of "Wheel of Fortune" today. Even
the alphabet is getting an official makeover as part of the California
recall election. The official order in which
the candidates will be listed is: R, W, Q, O, J, M, V, A, H, B, S, G,
Z, X, N, T, C, I, E, K, U, P, D, Y,
F and

from the New York Times

And the Winner is: Candidates “R” Us


So just who will be at the top of the California ballot? The four candidates whose last names start with “R” are Jeff Rainforth, Ned Roscoe, Sharon Rushford and Gregory Russell. Find out who they are and what they stand for

BC and MIT Challenge MP3 Supoenas


In what the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has deemed
a “minor procedural issue,” a federal judge ruled that some of the
RIAA’s subpoenas are invalid because they were issued from the wrong

Boston College and the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology recently received subpoenas requesting the identities of
students suspected of illegally trading copyrighted material, but the
schools noted that the subpoenas were issued from Washington, D.C., and
should not be valid in Massachusetts.

Judge Joseph L. Tauro agreed and threw out those subpoenas. The RIAA said the ruling does not change the “undeniable fact” that Internet service providers, in this case the universities in question, are legally required to reveal the identities of suspected copyright violators.

from the BBC

Right to Privacy?


Man Drinking Beer In Ditch Just Wanted to Be Left Alone

HOUSTON — A police standoff with a man in a southwest Houston drainage
ditch ended peacefully Monday morning. Firefighters were called around
2 a.m. on a report that a man was drowning in a drainage ditch.

When they arrived, they found the man was
fine and drinking a beer, but he refused to get out of the 20-foot deep

Police arrived at the scene and tried to coax
the man out of the ditch for the next two hours. He threw beer bottles
and other glass objects at officers, police said, in an effort to be
left alone. He was taken into custody, and then transported to Ben
Taub Hospital
for evaluation.