‘Thank you, copy desk, for all the saves’

John Robinson, editor of The News and Record in Greensboro, N.C., tweeted a link to a video about the “consolidation” of copy desks by Media General.

This video is a beautiful, but sad tribute to copy editors and all that they do made all the sadder by the fact that many companies don’t value them at all and think merging copy desks will not mean any content changes, just money savings.

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Chilling piece on copyright legislation must read

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Demand Progress and at least one academic are sounding the alarm about a copyright infringement bill that could cost some of us our free speech.

Dan Gillmor, author of We the Media and director of the Knight Center of Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University, wrote a chilling article about the “Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act” in Salon. Simply put, he calls it “yet another dishonest conflating of infringement and counterfeiting, but that’s standard for lawmakers.”

In essence, the law would allow sites that are deemed to be infringing on copyright to be blocked by Internet Service Providers. The problem is the legislation is currently written very broadly. Demand Progess, a Progressive campaigning site founded by Aaron Swartz, has an excellent fact sheet on the legislation here. That means that sites the courts have already deemed as not violating copyright could be blocked under the new legislation.

Gillmor argues that most of us haven’t heard of the bill because corporate media has a vested interest in its passage.

Quite frankly, the fact that Gillmor is concerned about the impact of this legislation is enough for me. I have great respect for him and his work. If he’s worried, I’m worried.

For more on the debate, see Gillmor’s piece. To look at the legislation, go here.

I Guess My Dad is NOT The Stig …

The Media Law Case of the Week involves a secret identity and international intrigue.

Fans of the BBC‘s “Top Gear” show have been wondering for years who The Stig is. The Stig races cars on the popular British show that showcases and tests automobiles in a variety of unique and humorous ways. The Stig is covered from head to toe, including a visored helmet.

Now, despite “Top Gear”‘s court efforts to stop the revelation, The Stig’s identity is known, according to the Telegraph. “Top Gear” wanted to keep The Stig’s identity a secret, but a court has ruled the show cannot stop the publication of The Stig’s book.

So who is The Stig? Check it out here.

I guess it’s not my dad after all …

Media Law Musings

Here are a few gems related to media law that I’ve run into lately. These are the kind of finds I love to mention in media law classes because everyone has heard of the parties involved or because, quite frankly, of the “strange” factor.

  • Droid: Did you know that Lucasfilm Ltd. of Star Wars fame owns the trademark to the word Droid, the name of the Verizon Wireless phone you see advertised everywhere? I noticed at the end of one such ad a disclaimer that “Droid” was the trademark of Lucasfilm Ltd. Verizon Wireless licenses it. Wikipedia tells more.
  • The Naked Cowboy versus The Naked Cowgirl: The Naked Cowboy says he trademarked the Naked Cowboy brand and she is violating it. I don’t know what’s better: the fact the CNN anchor refers to Robert Burck, a.k.a. the Naked Cowboy, repeatedly as “Naked” as if that were his name or the fact the cowboy sings an answer. Trust me, it’s worth your time to watch.
  • “Barbie, Political Philosopher”: Tom W. Bell writes on The Technology Liberation Front blog about a great line the Barbie character in Toy Story 3 had. He put the quote on a T-shirt (pictured in his post) and carefully notes why he does not think he is violating any copyright or trademark. Good luck, Mr. Bell. I’d love one of those shirts, but I can’t see the companies not asking you to stop.

Politicians in trouble over alleged theft of works

You find yourself troubled by politicians using others’ works without permission.

You may ask yourself, “What is wrong with them?”

You may tell yourself these politicians do not represent you.

“Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.”

Forgive me, Talking Heads, for my horrible parody of “Once in a Lifetime.” At least I am acknowledging it and being clear you had nothing to do with it — unlike a certain political candidate in Florida.

David Byrne, former singer of Talking Heads, is suing Florida Gov. Charlie Christ for using “Road to Nowhere” in a campaign commercial without his permission. Byrne is seeking $1 million.

Sadly, Christ is not the only one accused of stealing intellectual property. According to the Washington Post, Idaho Congressional Candidate Vaughn Ward, who has Sarah Palin’s support, is accused of plagiarizing an Obama speech.

See for yourself. The evidence is unbelievably damning.

‘Brothers’ name leads to trademark issue

The Media Law Case of the Week features the little guy taking on a big restaurant chain.

Jim Karagas opened My Brother’s Bar 30 years ago in Denver, according to the Denver Business Journal. Now a chain of restaurants called Brothers Bar and Grill wants to open an eatery in Denver, and it has filed a complaint in U.S. District Court asking for permission to use “Brothers” in its name. Karagas says he is worried about confusion.

Here’s hoping the little guy wins this one.

For the video version of the story, click image below.

Journajunkie Back in Business

I apologize for the break. Sometimes, as you know, life gets in the way of, well, life. But now Journajunkie is back.

Here’s an idea so great I wish I had thought of it. Webbmedia created a google calendar that lists nothing but social media and journalism conferences.

You can search by month or week, get details on individual conferences and even download the entry to your own calendar. Beautiful. Thanks to @jeffjarvis and @knightfdn for tweeting about this calendar.