Not Just A Problem With Flu Coverage

Frankly, I believe that our last 6-9 months of financial news coverage has been an even more egregious illustration of this problem, and has really gone over this “fine line:” Coverage of Flu Outbreak Walks a Fine Line (pdf)

“I get people who see the media, and people who are anxious to begin with will use this as an outlet for their anxiety,” said Dr. Joseph Rahimian, an infectious-disease specialist at St. Vincent’s.

Without the news media the public would be dangerously unaware of the swine flu outbreak, but perhaps without saturation coverage on cable news networks and the velocity of information on the Internet, the public would not be so hysterical, medical professionals said.

“It’s a fine line between educating people and frightening them,” said Dr. Marvin J. Tenenbaum, the director of medicine at St. Francis Hospital on Long Island. […]

[…] Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC, said, “We have to be careful that we’re not alarmists.”

As I said, when it comes to coverage of the global financial markets, that ship has already sailed.

Santangelo Settlement?

Music Companies Agree to Settle Piracy Suit (pdf) (earlier posts)

After battling a suburban family for four years over music downloads, the recording industry has agreed to accept $7,000 to settle a federal music piracy lawsuit.

If approved by a judge, the settlement would end a four-year fight between record companies and the family of Patricia Santangelo, 46, a mother of five, who lives in Wappingers Falls, N.Y.

Google Books == Antitrust Violation?

U.S. Opens Inquiry Into Google Books Deal (pdf)

Lawyers for the Justice Department have been in conversations in recent weeks with various groups opposed to the settlement, including the Internet Archive and Consumer Watchdog. More recently, Justice Department lawyers notified the parties to the settlement, including Google, and representatives for the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild, that they were looking into various antitrust issues related to the far-reaching agreement.

The inquiry does not necessarily mean that the department will oppose the settlement, which is subject to a court review. But it suggests that some of the concerns raised by critics, who say the settlement would unfairly give Google an exclusive license to profit from millions of books, have resonated with the Justice Department.

Obituary for Barbara Ringer

Barbara Ringer, 83; crafted updating of copyright law (pdf)

For years, Ms. Ringer devoted much of her time to drafting a new, comprehensive copyright act and educating members of Congress about why it was needed. Foreseeing the rise of the Internet, she inserted provisions into the law to protect authors from the unauthorized reproduction of their work, even by means not yet devised.

“The basic human rights of individual authors throughout the world,” she warned in a 1975 speech, “are being sacrificed more and more on the altar of . . . the technological revolution.”

Ms. Ringer spent 21 years drafting the legislation and lobbying Congress before the Copyright Act of 1976 was finally passed. She wrote most of the bill herself.

“It brought an essentially 19th-century law up to date with the late 20th century and 21st century,” said Arthur Levine, a copyright lawyer who worked with Ms. Ringer at the Library of Congress. “I dont believe there would have been a Copyright Act if there hadnt been a Barbara Ringer.”

The original article source: Force Behind New Copyright Law (pdf)

A Shepard Fairey Comment

From The Moment, a New York Times blog, by Steve Heller (co-chair of the MFA Design Department at the School of Visual Arts ): Shepard Fairey Is Not a Crook

Those who rebuff Fairey’s work are angry that he misappropriates (read: steals) famous art and design works; they argue that Warhol changed paradigms while Fairey makes knockoffs. I did an interview with Fairey for his recent book, “Obey: Supply & Demand,” and I admit that on occasion he has come close to crossing the line from acceptable borrowing into murky infringement territory. But after seeing the satiric art barbs that he aimed at politics, cultural icons and bêtes noires in his exhibition at the I.C.A. (where I participated in a panel discussion on appropriation), I can say this: Shepard Fairey is not a crook.

[…] The critics argue that literal replication of the originals — and this is true of Moser and Muller-Brockmann’s imagery, among others — is ethically wrong, but that charge fails to take into account Fairey’s fundamental ethos. His is a wink and a nod toward visual culture and media monopoly. No designer with Fairey’s experience and historical knowledge could be so stupid as to pinch such visible historical artifacts and call them his own. On the contrary, Fairey sees popular visual culture in terms of what Tom Wolfe has called a “big closet” of shared objects. For him, the ubiquity of the graphic design and advertising art that he relies on for source material makes it a kind of commercial folk art. Although some of what he borrows is not as anonymously vernacular as one might like, Fairey believes that the fact that it is designed for public consumption makes it free for the taking.

A Cyberstalking Fight

A followup to an earlier post: A fighter, then victim, of cyberstalking, lawyer pushes to close loophole (pdf)

Joan Lukey, a prominent Boston lawyer who has fought cyberstalking and harassment in the courtroom, is fighting back at her own stalker.

The attorney at Ropes & Gray said she is being targeted by the same person who harassed – and continues to harass and threaten – her former client, author Patricia Cornwell. So Lukey is pushing to close what she believes are loopholes in federal law that prevent victims from tracking down their stalkers and holding them accountable.

Specifically, Lukey said plaintiffs in civil suits and victims of cyberstalking need to be able to identify their attackers and trace their whereabouts.

[…] With Lukey representing her, Cromwell sued Sachs for libel in Virginia, where both had previously lived. A federal judge ruled in 2007 that at least 45 of Sach’s statements were libelous and ordered him held in contempt of court.

But in defiance of the judge’s ruling, Sachs remains in an unknown location, attacking Cornwell, and now Lukey, on various websites. He has accused Lukey of being an anti-Semite out to persecute him and says she has worked with the CIA.

Cornwell’s civil judgment is still standing. The problem is, no one knows where Sachs is. And, Lukey said, federal laws restrict ways to find out.

More IPR Conflicts

I have never, as Steven Colbert puts it, “twatted,” but we all knew that this was coming: Lawyers Enter Twitter Tempest (pdf)

In February, Adam Robb Rucinsky began poking fun at Ms. Freeman online using her byline and Restaurant Girl, which is the name of her Daily News column and her blog.

Mr. Rucinsky, a 30-year-old part-time art dealer who uses his middle name as his last name when he writes, sends silly blurbs on Twitter and writes inane blog postings that purport to reflect Ms. Freeman’s musings about New York City restaurants, like “Governor of Texas raving about Secession on TV all week. Must be great word of mouth for Bouley!” His fake Restaurant Girl also ventures into more cosmic concerns: “Does anyone know what happens to all the chocolate bunnies no one bought for Easter? Are they put to sleep?”

To try to put a stop to it all, Ms. Freeman had lawyers from a Beverly Hills firm send Mr. Rucinsky a stern letter ordering him to stop using the names Restaurant Girl and Danyelle Freeman by the end of this month.

His joke infringes on her rights to her trademark, Restaurant Girl, the lawyers wrote. He should stop using that name or Ms. Freeman’s name in parody form on the Internet, the letter said.

Mr. Rucinsky, who has been talking to his own lawyers and doesn’t plan to budge, said he started the Twitter parody and a subsequent blog as a creative writing exercise. He thought he had found a rich target in Ms. Freeman’s style, which melds the top-of-the-head immediacy of a blog with the breezy tone of a late-night phone call from a friend on her way home from a night of sangria and tacos.

Some Copyright News and Transactions

  • Rodgers and Hammerstein Catalog Sold (pdf)

    The sale represents a transfer of power over one of America’s most famous song catalogs and the licensing rights for future productions of the musicals, which until now had been controlled by the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, a Manhattan-based company that is widely known in the theater world for its quality control and the active involvement of two heirs, the writers’ daughters Mary Rodgers Guettel and Alice Hammerstein Mathias.

    As part of the deal — the value of which was not released — Imagem is also acquiring the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization and retaining its management, led by its president and executive director, Theodore S. Chapin.

  • A New York Times Editorial: The Brando Brand (pdf)

    Perhaps one day movie stars and celebrities will leave their names and likenesses to the public domain. That would clear up what might be called the Brando problem — the case of a major public figure who dies and leaves behind a potent if contradictory image and no clear commercial legacy. The effort to create a Brando brand out of the Marlon Brando trust is in the hands of his rather oddly assorted trustees: a producer, an accountant and his former personal assistant. So far, their major activity has been suing companies for infringing upon Brando’s name, which is trademarked.

  • From The Boston Globe: King Family: I have a financial motive (pdf)

    The family of Martin Luther King Jr. continues its litigious crusade to “protect” the civil rights leader’s image by demanding tribute from anyone who uses it.

    A reference to this AP wire services report: Family of Dr. King Charged Group Building His Monument (pdf)

    The family of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has charged the foundation building a monument to him on the Mall about $800,000 for the use of his words and image, an arrangement one leading scholar said Dr. King would have found offensive.

    […] “One would think any family would be so thrilled to have their forefather celebrated and memorialized in D.C. that it would never dawn on them to ask for a penny,” Mr. Garrow said, adding that Dr. King would have been “absolutely scandalized by the profiteering behavior of his children.”

I Don’t Know

I have been overwhelmed, so this is all new to me, so I can’t do much more than post this bit: EU states, lawmakers on Internet collision course (pdf)

The battle over copyright abuse has emerged as a final sticking point between EU states and the European Parliament, which have joint say. The issue was not part of Redings reform, which covers infrastructure rather than content.

To help crack down on illegal downloading or sharing of copyright material, the two sides agree that an Internet service provider should be able to cut a subscribers access if there is approval from “a competent legal authority.”

EU member state ambassadors endorsed this at a meeting on Tuesday but said the provision must be in the “recital,” or guidelines preceding the body of the telecoms law, an EU official said.