Las Vegas business magazine VEGAS INC’s new cover story is Righthaven. This is your chance to catch up in a couple of minutes on the last 16 months of sordid lawsuits against random bloggers, some of them retired or unemployed, for $150,000 plus seizure of their domain names. It’s the most important story in blog law going. The author is, of course, Steve Green, who has been reporting on the Righthaven litigation mill from the beginning. With this recap, he brings you right up to today, where we find the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s “little friend” on the ropes but frantically trying to reinvent its legal strategy in order to stay alive and keep pulling in cash.
Archive for July, 2011
This excerpt of the report decries the criminalization of blogging:
… any restriction to the right to freedom of expression must meet the strict criteria under international human rights law. A restriction on the right of individuals to express themselves through the Internet can take various forms, from technical measures to prevent access to certain content, such as blocking and filtering, to inadequate guarantees of the right to privacy and protection of personal data, which inhibit the dissemination of opinions and information. The Special Rapporteur is of the view that the arbitrary use of criminal law to sanction legitimate expression constitutes one of the gravest forms of restriction to the right, as it not only creates a “chilling effect”, but also leads to other human rights violations, such as arbitrary detention and torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
One clear example of criminalizing legitimate expression is the imprisonment of bloggers around the world. According to Reporters without Borders, in 2010, 109 bloggers were in prison on charges related to the content of their online expression. Seventy-two individuals were imprisoned in China alone, followed by Viet Nam and Iran, with 17 and 13 persons respectively.
Imprisoning individuals for seeking, receiving and imparting information and ideas can rarely be justified as a proportionate measure to achieve one of the legitimate aims under article 19, paragraph 3, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Special Rapporteur would like to reiterate that defamation should be decriminalized, and that protection of national security or countering terrorism cannot be used to justify restricting the right to expression unless the Government can demonstrate that: (a) the expression is intended to incite imminent violence; (b) it is likely to incite such violence; and (c) there is a direct and immediate connection between the expression and the likelihood or occurrence of such violence.
Blogger on bloggin Jason Keath on offers a miniarticle called How To Use Content From Other Blogs Without Violating Copyright. Keath confesses he’s not a lawyer, and I don’t agree with everything he says in all the details. But his post is useful. Here’s a bit of wise pragmatism he offers:
The way you really need to think about copying the original work of another person is, will they sue you? … Even if you are in the right, but you piss off the wrong entity, you may still have to pay significant legal fees.
But let me add the corollary: If you are in the right and you do have the resources, don’t be afraid to peeve off the wrong entity. All of them need their cages rattled.
Well, this is sad. French-Canadian soft-rock diva Celine Dion has silenced a tongue-in-cheek blog keeping track of absurd pictures taken of her.
All it took was a cease-and-desist letter.
The Tumblr-hosted blog, Ridiculous Pictures of Céline Dion, is now down, with only this message remaining:
céline dion found our blog, and she didn’t like it. we just got a letter from céline’s lawyers that the blog has to be shut down.
though this blog is well within the realm of ‘fair use’, i don’t have the money or time to get a lawyer to respond. the dream is over.
thanks for following and being a céline superfan
i’ll always remember u
i’ll never let go
The blogger’s decision is completely rational, of course. But that just makes it worse. It’s a sadly accurate commentary about the lack of justice that results when the well-lawyered find themselves feeling uncomfortable with constitutional rights of the unlawyered masses.
FBI agent Hal Neilson brought the lawsuit against Lange and former federal prosecutor Tom Dawson over a book they co-wrote. That book, King of Torts, chronicled the scandal over superstar plaintiffs’ attorney Richard F.”Dickie” Scruggs’s attempt to bribe a state court judge to get a favorable ruling in a dispute with another lawyer over fees.
Neilson claimed in the lawsuit that King of Torts defamed him. But the judge tossed the litigation after Neilson and his attorney no-showed a hearing, apparently bailing out of the case.
Rachel Kane over at blog wtforever21.com has declared victory over Forever 21 in their nascent legal dispute. After Kane hired legal counsel and told the fast-fashion retailer their legal position was, in so many words, as silly as Feather Cape with Brooch ($39.00), there has been nothing but silence on the other end. So after Forever 21 failed to respond by Kane’s own imposed deadline, she interpreted silence as acquiescence and is now back calling out sartorial snafus on a daily basis.
In her words: “This is a dark defeat for MC Hammer pants, floral jumpsuits and blinged out mini hats, but a joyous triumph for those who like to make fun of them. Which is pretty much anyone with eyes.”
Note to bloggers who are on the receiving end of baseless legal threats: The way Kane handled this is instructive. Respond to the threatening letter with a patient explanation of how the claim is legally lacking, in a tone that is courteous but firm, and then say you’ll get back to doing whatever it is by such-and-such a date unless they give you a compelling response.
Congratulations, Rachel. Blog on!