This is just a short excerpt of what Slashdot contributor Bennett Haselton wrote about the very complicated copyright laws. And paradoxically, the particular disgusting case in point is one of the simplest example!:
‘In 2005, a college student published a rant on her hometown on her MySpace page, beginning with, “The older I get, the more I realize how much I despise Coalinga.” Her former high school principal found the rant while browsing her MySpace page (what?), and forwarded it to the town newspaper, which published the “rant” without the girl’s permission, signed with her full name, as a letter to the editor (what?). The resulting fallout included death threats against the family and the closure of the 20-year-old business owned by the girl’s father. Four years later, a judge ruled that the girl could not sue for “public disclosure of private facts” because the MySpace post was not private. But what about a copyright claim?
The questions I put to the HARO list were: Could the girl bring a lawsuit against the paper for violating her copyright? Is it something she could even do in Small claims court to save time and money? And as for damages, I knew that in cases of copyright violations for works not registered with the Copyright Office, plaintiffs were usually limited to actual damages. But could she claim the losses to her family’s business as “actual damages,” since the harm was caused as a result of the copyright violation?
Before reading any further, you might want to consider how you would answer these questions. Then you can see whether your answers agree with those given by the experts.
Pencils down. First, the things that all lawyers agreed I got completely wrong:
Virtually every lawyer who responded said that you could only bring copyright claims in federal court. This advice passed the 8-out-of-10 test, as well it might, since this rule is laid out in the U.S. Code.
Second, to bring a copyright claim at all, you first have to register your work with the Copyright Office by mailing it to them with a $35 fee. (There was some inconsistency in the answers here, but the consensus seems to be: You own the copyright on something as soon as you create it, but you can’t file a copyright lawsuit until after you’ve registered your work. However, once you’ve registered, you can then go back and sue for copyright violations that took place before the registration date. If you register more than 90 days after the date of first publication, you can only sue for actual damages — your monetary losses, or the infringer’s ill-gotten gains — for violations that took place before you registered the work. But if you register within 90 days of first publication, you can sue for statutory damages and attorney’s fees, even for violations that took place before you registered.)
Third: Suppose the court did find that the girl’s copyright was violated. Can the harm to her father’s business be counted under actual damages? Well, first there is the issue of whether she can consider these as damages at all, since they were to her father’s business, not to her. As I put it to Paul MacArthur, Professor of Journalism and Public Relations at Utica College: If X violates the rights of Y but the bulk of the harm is done to Z, can Y sue, even though they weren’t the main victim? Professor MacArthur, said: “Generally, no. But, perhaps, because it impacts her family’s income, she can claim a loss.”‘
Law and Justice are not the same INDEED.
The Collaboration Matrix or Why 1+1 = 3
Posted: 01 Aug 2009 10:37 PM PDT
Mary Jaksch is Chief Editor of Write to Done. You can read more articles by Mary on Goodlife ZEN. Get her free Ebook “Overcome Anything”.
First of all, let’s look at the old paradigm: The writer is an island
International copyright laws imply that each writer owns clearly defined intellectual property. For our purpose, let’s imagine that this property is an island. Something like this:
Each island is closely guarded. Signs say: “Danger! My words are protected by copyright dogs.”
But who benefits from copyright?
It’s important to realize that the idea of copyright was developed by the printing industry, and not by writers or readers. The history of copyright shows that it is linked to the technology of print.
With the development of the Internet, things have changed. Fast. In fact, we are plunged into a continuous, rapid development.
The new Paradigm: A writer is part of a Collaboration Matrix
According to the Oxford Dictionary, a matrix is a grid-like array of elements; a lattice. On one level, the Collaboration Matrix means that people on the Internet are interconnected. But more than that, it means that we are a brain. Brian (sic) scientist and entrepreneur Jeff M. Stibel wrote an interesting post about the implications of the Internet replicating the brain.
Ok, so if we are a brain – what does that mean?
A brain is a dynamic environment. When two bits of information intersect, an idea is formed. Then the idea triggers radiant thinking. This means that the brain makes countless associations, radiating in all directions. (That’s whymindmaps work). If we are a brain, then we need to connect and form pathways to each other. We need to build upon each other’s ideas and innovations. In this dynamic environment, the ‘writer is an island’ paradigm has no place any more.
Who drives the development of the Internet?
The great revolution on the Internet is the Open Source movement. The key to Open Source software is that it’s free. As Jolie O’Dell says it’s free-as-in-beer and free-as-in-free-to-move-about-the-Internet. Open-Source companies often give away their basic product and then charge customers for support, services or upgraded products. The Open Source movement is gathering momentum. In fact, Open Source proponents are putting a lot ofpressure on the US government to use Open Source software.
The basic premise of Open Source is that co-creation fosters innovation.
A great example is the development of WordPress as a blogging platform. Freelance developers have built upon the basic, free WordPress platform, and have created innovative plugins which can turn WordPress into powerful information – or membership systems.
Uncopyright is an initiative inspired by the Open Source movement.
I recently uncopyrighted Goodlifezen.com, following Leo Babauta’s suggestion in a recent podcast we created together. A reader commented: “Copyright is one of those things that brakes the world. I wish more people would follow your example.”
Remember I told you that I discovered something that’s electrifying, life-changing, challenging, and fun? It’s collaboration. Inspired by the Open Source movement, I’ve opened up all areas of my professional life to collaboration.