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Getting Copyright Right

If you think that an attorney who tries to help a newspaper get its copyright right would be thanked, you'd be dead wrong. Nevetheless, that's whatDavid Giacalone, editor of the Self Help Law Express (Shlep) Blog tried to do when he noticed a "glaringly incorrect interpretation of the Fair Use exception to copyright protection at the foot of the North Country Gazette's Web site. The footer states, “This article is copyright protected and Fair Use is not applicable," a clear mistake, since as we lawyers know, individuals can't disclaim the applicability of a lawfully enacted statute. Giacalone grew alarmed that "free speech and public interest" would be adversely impacted by this information, so he took the time to offer his readers a quick primer and list of links on copyright law. 
Giacalone went a step further, however. He wrote to the Gazette, noting the mistake, only to receive threats and insults in response:

My own attempt, by email, to suggest to the offending editor the error of her ways (by quoting the statute and referring her to two resources), resulted in an angry rebuff, in which I was accused of practicing law without a license, told that my email would therefore be forwarded to the Attorney General and the paper’s lawyer (who it was implied had okayed their statement denying Fair Use rights), and threatened with hearing from said lawyer, should I take any of their materials.  I agree with this assessment of the damage the incorrect statement of the Fair Use doctrine does to the newspaper’s credibility when it analyzes other issues. 

BoingBoing picked up the story, as does Volokh who confirms Giacalone's understanding of the law (Volokh's post has generated 66 comments  so far). And no word yet from the publication that started it all.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on October 24, 2006 at 03:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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