The legalities of blogging

Jason Kottke is experiencing some legal difficulties with Sony Entertainment over content posted recently on his blog.

The problem centres around a recent post about the successful run of contestant Ken Jennings on the popular game show Jepoardy.

Via his website, Kottke made available a downloadable audio file and a text description of the final category when Jennings’ amazing 72-show run came to an end.

If working for the BBC has taught me anything, it’s taught me about intellectual property rights in the UK; there’s a basic rule of thumb when it comes to rich media: if it’s not yours, you can’t use it.

Often, even if it is yours, someone else owns the rights, so you can’t use it without their permission – especially on the internet.

Increasingly, I find popular weblogs all over the web breaching copyright in this way, almost on a daily basis (Boing Boing does it in almost every post with images from other websites which clearly don’t belong to them), and it doesn’t surprise me that a popular blogger like Jason has finally come to the attention of a large media corporation like Sony – not because he’s breached their copyright (I don’t know for certain if he has), but because the world’s media rules are changing, and big corporations like Sony are paying more attention.

But if people like Sony know anything, they know their rights – and they’ve got an army of lawyer monkeys ready to creep out of the woodwork and shaft anyone who breaches their copyright. Usually, targeting a big hitter makes the best example.

I can sympathise with Jason if didn’t know he was breaching Sony’s copyright, but if he did know, then he’s probably going to find it difficult to beat Sony off.

However, there’s a chance the Fair Use ethic – which is unqiue to US law – may be on his side.

Jason’s blog was one of the inspirations for The Copydesk, so let’s hope he doesn’t give up the fight.

Everything is Under Control

For the second time in four days, I managed a trip to the cinema, a rarity for me of late, to see Jonathan Demme’s remake of The Manchurian Candidate.

Demme’s reworking successfully updates John Frankenheimer’s 1962 original, giving the story a 21st century slant and re-contextualising the Cold War communist paranioa of the 60s as the so-called present-day War on Terror.

If you’ve seen the original, very little changes – except the ending – which follows the popular trend for mainstream Hollywood movies (since September 11, 2001), in feeling the need to adopt the responsibility for making America’s cinemagoers feel good about the actions of their government.

The traditional ‘square boxes’ BBC logo no longer appears at the top left-hand corner of the grey navigation bar on all BBC websites.

It’s now replaced by the generic URL ‘’.

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