Archive for the ‘general’ Category

Blog Law Way-Back Machine: Goldman in 2006

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

I don’t know why I never noticed this before, but Eric Goldman at one point gave a talk on blog law, way back in 2006. A pdf of his presentation slides shows that he did a good job of seeing the blog litigation of the future. (At least he was a lot more prescient with blog law than he was when he predicted the failure of Wikipedia by 2010.)

Zittrain Joins EFF’s Board of Directors

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Jonathan Zittrain, a law and computer science professor at Harvard, has been appointed to the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s board of directors.

When I was in law school I took Zittrain’s Internet & Society ’99 course. It was fantastic. He’s one of the co-founders of Harvard Law’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and he wrote The Future of the Internet – and How to Stop It.

A strong EFF is good for blog freedom, so bloggers everywhere should be happy with this news.

Congratulations, Professor Zittrain!

Gawker Posts Palin Excerpt, Then Backs Off

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Sarah Palin's America by Heart bookcoverMegablogger Gawker posted excerpts of Sarah Palin’s book, America By Heart, ahead of its release to bookstores. Palin reacted in a tweet: “The publishing world is LEAKING out-of-context excerpts of my book w/out my permission? Isn’t that illegal?”

Gawker responded, claiming fair use. But the Associated Press reports that HarperCollins, the book’s publisher, filed a federal copyright-infringement lawsuit against Gawker on Friday.

Gawker, despite maintaining indignancy, has, according to the AP, pulled the exerpted pages down.

So, was it fair use?

Without knowing exactly what Gawker posted and how it fits into to Palin’s book, my initial, very strong, reaction is no, it’s not fair use.

There is actually a U.S. Supreme Court opinion remarkably close on the facts. In Harper & Row Publishers v. Nation Enterprises, 471 U.S. 539 (1985), the high court held that Nation magazine’s unauthorized advance publication of excerpts of Gerald Ford’s soon-to-be-released A Time to Heal: The Autobiography of Gerald R. Ford, did not qualify as fair use.

Ford’s publisher, Harper & Row, has, by way of merger and acquisition, become HarperCollins, which is Palin’s publisher.

You think HarperCollins will cite that case in their brief?

You betcha.

Fair use is a fuzzy, flexible doctrine that produces unpredictable results when introduced in court. At least usually. But wow, it’s hard to imagine better precedent for a plaintiff than this.

In its post defending its actions, Gawker snottily taunted Palin, “[Y]ou may want to take a moment to familiarize yourself with the law … Or skip the totally boring reading and call one of your lawyers. They’ll walk you through it.”

But Gawker may have penned that jibe before they called their own lawyer.

Whoops.

Little wonder Gawker has now backed off.