While reading about the plight of one of my friends, I came across a little bit of Internet Insanity. (Yea, I know, how unusual, right?)
Sue Basko, "Lawyer for Music and Film", is one of those "colorful" personalities who makes a living off of Hollywood. She also has a blog. I'm not interested in her blog, not at all. But I am interested in the warning she placed on her blog. It says:
COPYRIGHT: ALL MATERIAL COPYRIGHT 2010-11 Susan Basko. You may not copy or use or link to or quote or cite ANY material herein without explicit written permission from the Owner. No "Fair Use" applicable. Permission easily granted to good people/uses. Don't be shy to ask.
You see what I did there? By copying her text, and linking to it, I've done what Ms. Basko says I cannot do.
I especially like how she says that Fair Use is not applicable! It's like she gets to make up the law as it applies to her own website!
This is why I like and support the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They offer a legal guide to bloggers that helps bloggers know when someone like Sue Basko is full of it. For instance, several court cases in America have ruled that I CAN link to Sue Basko's website, with or without her permission. I can even "deep link" to a place on a website where normal users of that site would have to go through several layers first. This has been ruled to be legal.
I'm also allowed to copy and paste "short quotes" from anyone else's blog just so that I can comment from it. This is lawful for me to do. Let me give you an example from Ms. Basko's blog:
EDUCATION: I have a Juris Doctorate magna cum laude from Southern Illinois University School of Law; have completed all coursework for a Master of Arts in Mass Communication Media Arts in the department of Cinema-Photography/ Radio-TV at Southern Illinois University; have a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Video from Columbia College Chicago.
This seems to be a pretty impressive education, until you realize that Ms. Basko really doesn't understand copyright in America - you would think that someone working in the entertainment industry would know copyright law inside and out! She has a JD degree from Southern Illinoise University School of Law and still says that I am not allowed to link to her blog, or use parts of it as "fair use"?
This is incredibly hilarious.
Taken with her other blog postings, Ms. Basko comes off as another one of the (all too common) tinfoil-hat wearing brigade, who try to force the world to be what they want it to be, instead of taking it for what it really is.
If you are seeking legal advice from Ms. Basko, I would advise you look long and hard at this first.
Also, if you have the time, money, or legal expertise, and you want to donate to an excellent cause, then support the Electronic Frontier Foundation. I do, and you should too!
Lastly, because I've been warned that Ms. Basko has a habit of deleting her own writing and claiming to have never written it, I've taken a screen shot of the offending page, which I will post here if it ever disappears or changes.
Update 24 Dec 2011:
Wow, it was predicted, and so it came to pass! Quietly, and without fanfare, Ms. Basko has updated her copyright warning. Since I saved her page, I can give you a before and after screenshot of it to the right here. (Click on the image to see it bigger).
The top shows her orginal text with the silly copyright warning that prevents you from copying or linking to her text.
She's almost got everything set here. But there is still a little bit of sillyness. The text now reads:
COPYRIGHT: ALL MATERIAL COPYRIGHT Sue Basko 2010. Materials on this site may be used and shared only for the purposes of learning. They may not be used for any form of cyberstalking, bullying, or harassing. Legal action will be taken against any cyberstalker or harasser. If that's you, get off this page.
I'm glad she's made this clear. Right now, I'm using her text to demonstrate that she still doesn't understand copyright - so I guess technically I'm teaching someone reading this blog something.
But still, she's completely wrong here. According to the US Copyright Office, I'm allowed to copy and reproduce a fair amount of Ms. Basko's work, "... for purposes such as commentary, criticism, news reporting, and scholarly reports."
For the record, I'm criticizing Ms. Basko's words, her "so-called" proficiency with Internet Law. I'm doing so because she purports to be an entertainment lawyer who I would think is supposed to KNOW something about the law and the Internet, while also understanding basic facts about the Internet - namely "The Streisand Effect".
For a great example of what you can do with Fair Use and Copyright, I suggest you watch the movie "A Fair(y) Use Tail" by Eric Faden. (I would guess that there is very little chance that Mr. Faden is represented by Ms. Basko).
Another aspect of Fair Use is parody. If I wished, I could modify the image of Ms. Basko in Photoshop to make her look like a Klingon, and then translate part of her web site into Klingon words (called "tlhIngan Hol" in English). I could then put a word bubble above her head showing the Klingon Ms. Basko shouting her own words in Klingon.
I could, if I wished, use Photoshop to redraw the photo of Ms. Basko as a clown. This would be a neat parody because it would hook into the whole entertainment industry (better than a Klingon) while at the same time making a statement about Ms. Basko's abilities.
I could do this, but I won't. Not out of fear, but because it is Christmas eve and I've got other things to do with my time. Call it laziness if you wish.
One other thing I would like to point out is the Copyright Date on the updated text. Copyright is good for a long time, so a Copyright of 2010 is not going to run out any time soon. However, according to the Copyright Office, Copyright happens automatically when you write something. Using a date or the (c) symbol is merely a formality. But back-dating your copyright by a year doesn't make sense, it makes it seem older than it really is, and would allow it to fall into public domain one year sooner than necessary.
The only reason why Ms. Basko would have a 2010 Copyright on this material is if she is trying to make it seem like she didn't REALLY change her website - or if she merely forgot.
Personally, I think she just forgot. We will see it updated correctly soon. Especially after I tell her about it.