Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Cease and Desist

Many 9/11 truth webmasters have been receiving "cease and desist" letters from newspapers such as the New York Times, the Times of London, and other mainstream media outlets. The letters state that the 9/11 website is infringing on the company's copyright by duplicating or caching articles without permission.

This post will provide a very brief outline of how you might be able to stay out of hot water if you receive such a letter. When I have time, I'll flesh this blog out, so check back again in about a week.

Should you Ignore the Letter?

Copyright infringement is a pretty serious matter. There are stiff penalties. And copyright infringement is a "strict liability" offense, so that even if you innocently and unknowingly infringe someone's copyright, you can still be found guilty.

So its not smart to stick your head in the sand and hope they go away.

So What CanYou Do?

First, you could state that your use of the material is "fair use". In a copyright infringement case, the judge will analyze your claim to fair use of the copyrighted material using the following 4 factors:

(1) The purposes and character of the use, including whether the use is primarily commercial in nature;

(2) The nature of the copyrighted work being borrowed from;

(3) The amount and importance of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

(4) The effect on the potential market or value of the copyrighted work.

You can argue that, under (1), you are solely using the article for educational and political purposes. (Even if you are making money from your website, you can still try to argue that you are using the article for non-commercial purposes, in that you are solely raising money so that you can continue your educational and political activities).

If you are only using part of the article, then you can argue that under (3), you have only duplicated the part of the article which contains important information, and which does not constitute the most commerically important portion of the copyrighted work.

And you can argue that, under (4), you are not diminishing the potential market or value of the copyrighted work. If you also link to the article, you should mention that, and state that the company that wrote you the letter can still make money when people go to the link to look at the original (that is, they either buy access to the article or patronize the advertisers of tha company's website).

Images

If you are using videos or photos of events which occurred on or around 9/11, you can argue that your use of such images is also protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Specifically, in addition to claiming fair use of the copyrighted material, you can argue that your reproduction is protected under the "Zapruder line of cases", since:

(1) The 9/11 images are of historical significance;

(2) They show facts which cannot be conveyed effectively in any other manner, and

(3) Therefore the Constitution trumps copyright law.

See this Google search for more information. This is an unsettled area of law, but it is worth making the argument, as I have seen it scare off companies which are threatening to sue.

You should be nice to the company and -- while vigorously asserting your First Amendment rights and fair use defense -- be respectful and try to negotiate a resolution.

You can also try to get free or low-cost legal help from a group such as Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF emails out requests for free legal help to its list of copyright attorneys).

THIS MESSAGE IS NOT INTENDED TO, AND DOES NOT, CONSTITUTE OR CONVEY LEGAL ADVICE, AND THE AUTHOR DOES NOT KNOW THE SPECIFICS OF YOUR PARTICULAR SITUATION AND IS NOT ACTING AS YOUR ATTORNEY OR REPRESENTATIVE IN ANY CAPACITY WHATSOEVER. THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN IS FOR GENERAL INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY.





3 Comments:

Anonymous Researcher seeking info said...

George, this is unrelated, but this researcher is looking for the following stats:

1. Number of psychiatrists and psychologists currently employed nationwide.
2. Individuals graduating in the two disciplines each year.

Can you or other readers help?

Best,
Researcher

7:27 PM  
Blogger Boris Epstein said...

An excellent post!

I think I will republish this one for the benefit of others (hopefully you, George, won't be serving me with no "cease and desist" letter).

9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Researcher, this is unrelated, but I'm looking for the following stats:

1. How many roads must a man walk down, before you call him a man?

2. Yes, 'n' how many seas must a white dove sail, before she sleeps in the sand?

Can you or other readers help?

Best,
Bob

8:08 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home