Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Great Online Fair Use Resource for Writers

Can I use a photo from the internet for a presentation?  Can I quote a poem?  Can I use
someone writing as an example when I'm teaching a writing class?  How about paraphrasing someone's blog post?  

These are just some of the troubling questions for writers dealing with the issues of copyright and fair use.  Fortunately, there is now a handy, FREE, online resource.  Although designed specifically for journalists, the principles set out in the publication are equally applicable to writers of all stripes.

Set of Principles in Fair Use for Journalism is a project of American University's School of Communications.  It is a very well-crafted summary of fair use and how it applies to many of the most common situations and issues faced by writers.

To view the publication, CLICK HERE. 
It is not a legal treatise.  It is not a substitute for legal advice for troubling situaitons.  But it is a very worthwhile resource, and one which every writer should review and keep handy.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Law for Writers - the Broadcast Version

Law for Writers will hit the airwaves - or at least the internet airwaves - Monday night at 9 p.m. (June 17). 

I will be the guest on Johnny Stir Show, hosted by Jon Easter.   (Say his name fast, and you'll understand where the show's name came from).

We will discuss a broad range of topics related to writing and the law as it impacts writers.  Check it out. 

The show is streamed live at 9 p.m. (EDT) on www.indianatalks.com. 

Encore broadcasts occur throughout the week, then the show will be available for listening on the station's archives or download on Itunes.

My show, Stephen Terrell: Just Us, streams live on Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. (EDT) on www.indianatalks.com.   This week's guest will be southern Indiana lawyer Derrick Wilson.  We will discuss the long, strange and fascinating history of wine, alcohol and Indiana law, including: 
  • The heck with California and New York, Indiana was the first state to have a winery
  • Indiana was the first with a Sunday blue laws prohibiting Sunday sales of liquor (still in effect)
  • Why Indiana regulates sale of beer and soft drinks by temperature (the only state to do so)
  • The 1920s coalition between the Women's Christian Temperance Union and the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana.
Tune in!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Sentenced: 7 Years for Copyright Violation

Violating a copyright is no small matter.

A Baltimore man found that out recently when he was sentenced to 87 months - more than 7 years - in federal prison for violating copyright laws.

Naveed Sheikh, 29, was not your ordinary copyright infringer.  He didn't copy a page or two from a book, or burn an occasional unauthorized CD.  Rather, over a 5 year period, he copied more than 1,000 of the most popular software packages and sold them on the Internet for something in the range of $4 million. As part of his sentence, Sheikh was also ordered to pay back the $4 million.

Sheikh's problems didn't stop with copyright violations.  He did not report any of the income on his taxes.

Sheikh is not alone to blame for his actions.  Okay, maybe he is.  But others facilitated his actions.  You see, Sheikh didn't market his product as genuine originals of Microsoft Office, Microsoft XP, Adobe Acrobat, or PhotoShop.  He marketed his products as "cracked" copies -- that is, knock offs.

For writers, the lesson is not so much a warning about violating the copyright of others, as it is the huge market that is out there for people who don't care about copyright if they can get a better price. So who is reading knock offs of your books without you receiving a royalty?

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/eyyad/3830243742/">EyadHainey</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>

Monday, June 3, 2013

Apple, Department of Justice Head to Court Over E-Book Pricing

It has all the twists of a John Grisham legal thriller (or my legal thriller for that
matter).  But the ending has yet to be written.

This week Apple and the U.S. Government square off in court over the pricing of E-books.  And waiting in the wings is Amazon, who appears to be the target of Apple's defense.

Last year the Department of Justice ("DOJ") sued the big five publishers and Apple to court, claiming a price-fixing collusion in violation of Anti-Trust laws.  The claim is that Apple and the publishers set minimum prices for their best-selling ebooks. The purpose was to counter Amazon's below-cost pricing of bestsellers and to help cut into Amazon's share of the ebook market, which at one time exceeded 90 percent.

All five publishers settled with the DOJ.  The result is that their best-sellers are now often being offered by Amazon at below cost prices.

But Apple refused to settle, dug in its heels, and is going to Court.   Apple's courtroom target may not be the DOJ.  The proverbial elephant in the courtroom is Amazon.  Although Amazon is not a party, Apple has already let it be known that its strategy will include internal Amazon email that are none-too-flattering to Amazon's view of its customers and its marketing strategy.

Stay tuned.  As Betty Davis once said, "It's going to be a bumpy ride."

For the Washington Post article on the lawsuit, CLICK HERE.

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/blakespot/4639499514/">blakespot</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>