Tag Archives: blogging

Fair Use Online and in Discussion Forums

Patrick O’Keefe who writes a fantastic blog at ManagingCommunities.com posted about fair use in forum postings.  This is an interesting topic given the shifting nature of consumer behavior on the web.  We are part of a gimme culture these days, expecting lots for free that folks used to make bundles of money on (news, music, analysis – today we call them “blogs,” etc.).  In Patrick’s article he attempts to provide clear guidelines on fair use, correctly telling members that “fair use is a defense” to claims of infringement by the copyright holder.

I would argue that as much as fair use is a “defense” it has become a culture and guideline.  As I say in my comment to his blog post (reprinted entirely below – it’s my work so fair use doesn’t apply!), even the courts have been fuzzy on fair use.  How much is too much?  We’ve heard standards like don’t take “the heart of the work,” 150 words or less, and no more than 10% of the work.  What my comment speaks to is how we are becoming used to more use as a digital culture and that this might not be fair to traditional copyright ownership.

Okay – comment number 2 for your blog today Patrick and then I have to get back to work (my cousin, Howard Greenstein, recommended your work to me yesterday). You have correctly identified it as a defense to copyright infringement allowing the excerpting of small portions of a work.  Courts have been in the gray area with fair use because the more granular you go the harder it is to carve out.  When you start getting into word counting or fractions of a work it can be a nightmare.

Blogs and social sharing are doing some interesting things to fair use. As tools like “share this,” embedding, and quote posts have become so common place on the web we are seeing a greater flexibility in what may be considered fair use.  For example, on my blog Mintz’s Wordz I do a lot of embedding of YouTube videos (most recently a bunch of Steve Jobs Keynotes).  Now the displaying of these videos on my blog theoretically violates some of the rights of the copyright holder (a copyright or any property right can be compared to “bundle of sticks” – each stick can represent a different right in what we understand to be the bundle called “the copyright”).  But given the embedding features on YouTube, the prevalence with which others embed such videos, and the unlikelihood of anyone following up on such postings – copyright culture is changing.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t enforce fair use policies or that copyright holders should allow everyone to freely take their work (unless that is your thing).  What it means is we need to rethink what it means to permit “fair use” in a viral media landscape.  How much is fair?  Personally, I use a very sophisticated system for determining things like fair use, ethics, etc.  It’s called “the icky factor.”  If it feels icky, you might want to rethink doing it, because in a connected world ickiness gets sniffed out pretty quickly and can frustrate any benefits you may have thought to reap by being icky.

How do you think copyright ownership should change in light of the viral web?  Do we need a more clear standard of fair use or a more flexible one?  How much do you think is fair?

Disclaimer: nothing in here should be construed as legal advice.  Answering my questions in the comments does not create a lawyer/client relationship (hell, I’m not even practicing at the moment!).  Blah, blah, blah ….



Filed under Legal, social media

How to Be a Blogging Superstar

If you are anything like me you tend to want to do a lot.  As someone with lots of energy and drive I find myself jumping from project to project.  This would be fine if I had an unlimited amount of time and resources, didn’t need sleep, and had no other commitments.  Belonging to the human race this just isn’t so.  There is a need to focus, create, and finish.

At present I write on three blogs: Mintz’s Wordz (this one), Lurkers Anonymous (my blog to book project on motivation and engagement), and The Martindale Blog (my work blog).  I fluctuate between levels of commitment on all three and it can be difficult to prioritize and produce.  Often my “lizard brain” the part of me that fears progress and success, hampers my efforts, and tells me what I’m writing is useless, tells me don’t write on any of them.  These are the things I can find myself thinking:

“No one will read it.”

“Seth Godin has said it better already.”

“Waste of time.”

The key to being a blogging superstar is to write in spite of those thoughts. Even if the fear can say “I told you so,” for example, your latest post only got 2 views (one of which was you), just write.  Keep on posting.  Try to be consistent.  Work on crafting, honing, and delivering your message.  What you will get out of it is a satisfaction that you did something.  Sure there are millions of blog posts going up everyday.  Not all of us can be a Chris Brogan, Perez Hilton, or Gary Vaynerchuk (for anyone not geekly inclined – these are some of the most successful bloggers on the Internet today).  But in creating, sharing, giving of yourself to the collective body of the world you move closer towards connecting.  Closer towards making a difference.  Delivering your masterpiece.

Yesterday I crossed the 100 post threshold with this blog.  At my best I had 400 views in one day.  This blog is not a blockbuster (yet).  What it has done is opened doors.  I have met people through the blog, built valuable connections, and created opportunities.  It has given me an outlet to share ideas, develop projects, and lead to other things.   Most of all it exists as a body of work I have done.  That is a take away from this post: publishing your ideas, shipping the product is creation.  This creation exists as something to point to – a road map of what you have done.  Having it and continuing to add to it makes you a blogging superstar.

Taking your blog to another level is something I am learning reading sites like ProBlogger (how to monetize and increase your efforts).  The tactics there are great for accomplishing certain goals with a blog.  But at it’s essence blogging is about creating and sharing.  Continue to do that, on a consistent basis, for the sake of doing what you love and you are a superstar.

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Filed under Commentary and Critiques

Tech Talk With Tom Mighell from Inter-Alia

This is a video from my chat with Tom Mighell, award winning legal blogger of Inter-Alia.

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Filed under Legal

Taking Control of Your System Start Up

This is not a topic I really know about.  How often do you hear someone start with that?  The reason I am even including this short post is to show the value of blogging.

While at the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Annual Meeting in Boston a friend and colleague of mine, Eugene Weitz, former corporate counsel at Alcatel Lucent walked up to my booth between sessions.  He said, “just got out of a session you would have liked.”

“Yeah,” I asked, “what about?”

“Lawyer-tech stuff,” he said.

“What did they discuss.” I asked.

“Different tools, using them in practice.  The most interesting thing I saw was about taking control of your system start up,” he said.  “He gave a bunch of programs, some of which I may check out.”

“You should blog about that,” I said.  Eugene recently started an exclusive blog on Martindale-Hubbell Connected called In the House: The Impact of Technology on the 21st Century Lawyer.

“I don’t know,” he said, explaining that he didn’t have expertise in the tools or anything like that.  And it is this last point that inspired this blog post.  I told him that readers don’t always want the expert opinion.  The beauty of blogging is that whoever reads your stuff reads it to get your take on things.  To show him that anyone could write about system start up, I found this link all about it, posted by someone who does know about the subject.  I drafted this post as my testimony that what makes this whole blogging thing interesting is getting different perspectives on the same information.  Believe me, this post is much more about how we share and connect as human beings than it is about system start up.  In any case, there you have it.



Filed under Commentary and Critiques, Uncategorized