“The Liberty Voice” back online, for now…

Most of the regular readers of TheLibertyVoice.com are probably aware, the website was offline for about 10 days this month. This was a completely unexpected consequence of processing a domain registration transfer, and the hosting account was separated from the domain name. It took GoDaddy the better part of a week to fix it. I apologize for the inconvenience. Many people wrote me that they were going into “truth withdrawal.”

So, to those who thought that the site was shut down because of a Department of Homeland Security investigation coincidentally timed with the 9 year anniversary of 9/11, you can rest easy.

However, this does lead me to an interesting crossroads.

You may or may not be aware, there is currently an aggressive war being waged on behalf of the mainstream media by an company called Righthaven. The company has a unique business model: They purchase the copyrights to articles published by mainstream newspapers, magazines, etc. that appear online, and then sue websites and blogs that repost those articles without permission.

Here are a couple of articles that discuss this issue:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/10/AR2010091006542.html
http://bigjournalism.com/rfutrell/2010/09/10/righthaven-lawsuits-a-chilling-effect-on-the-blogosphere/

To date, every blogger they have gone after has been sued for $75,000 plus surrender of their domain name ownership. Many bloggers have settled for $5,000, and kept there domains. But they have stopped reposting material that could get them targeted again.

It seems that Righthaven’s goal is actually just to get the settlement and put a little money in the pockets of the lawyers. If they can silence the voices of dissent in the meantime, that’s a bonus.

This is a pretty serious threat to internet freedom, so much so that Lewrockwell.com has gone to the trouble of scrubbing their enormous history of articles to ensure they are bulletproof from future attacks. Check out what Lew has to say about it here.

So, The Liberty Voice is also at a crossroads. We can continue to reprint articles without permission, hoping that the Fair Use Clause of the U.S. Copyright law is strong enough to protect us from being attacked.

Or, we can begin a transition to all original content that we have been granted permission to use.

Either way, we need our dedicated readers to help out. We either need to build up a legal “rainy day fund” in case we get sued, or need spend the money to get reprint rights and permissions from every source we use from now on.

As a free publication, and without a paid staff to find a dedicated group of advertisers to offset our costs, The Liberty voice is in a financial bind. Currently, we are $1,000 short from being able to publish our Fall 2010 issue. We need your help.

We also are long overdue on a complete website overhaul. We want The Liberty Voice to be bigger, better, and faster than it is now.

Also, I would like to build up a “rainy day fund” of $5,000 as a safety net in case we run into any legal trouble. I know that we would be able to have legal representation free of charge. However, if we needed to settle a lawsuit quickly and inexpensively, it would be nice to have the option. I would hate to see The Liberty Voice shut down again….maybe permanently.

So, if anyone can give $500, $250, or $100 as a one time donation it will go a long way to making sure The Liberty Voice is around for a long time.

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Jason Rink is the Editor-in-Chief of The Liberty Voice. Executive Director of the Foundation for a Free Society. He is the producer and director of Nullification: The Rightful Remedy, and the author of “Ron Paul: Father of the Tea Party” the biography of Congressman Ron Paul. See more of his work at his writing at JasonRink.com and his film production work at FoundationMedia.org.

4 Comments

  1. Brig Young

    September 16, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    As a content creator I can assure you that I fully support ANYONE that sues a copyright violator in defense of their rights. Fair use does not (in my understanding of it) give anyone the right to republish anything in its entirety under any circumstance. You can certainly quote from an article and cite it as a source, I’m pretty sure you could preserve a copy of the entire article for your research records, but you have no right to republish it under any circumstance even if you link back to the original publisher. AP sells licenses to sites every day of the week.

    I think you would be OK (I’m assuming this is my copyright) if you posted the lead-in followed by a link to the copyright owners website for the complete article.

    Most of these things are argued on the head of a pin while ignoring the fabric that is meant to be sewed. Its like the copy right on my comment here, it is owned by me and my rights are vested as I type. End of story. The only consent you get from the commenter is the (implied) right to publish in context, you don’t own the copyright to what I just said, anymore than I own the copyright to what you just said. In any context.

    With clear thinking it is easy to understand copyright law because it is in fact a simple idea that guarantees to authors of “content” (music, images, videos, what have you) the right to benefit from that content and to restrict access to it. Its purpose is plainly stated in the U.S. Constitution.

    It is an interesting note that if a “Police Officer” seizes a video tape or camera from someone without a court order they have committed theft with intent by seeking to deprive you of the use and value of the video you have taken because it became constitutionally recognized property the moment that you created it, property in which you had a right to profit or gain whether in your own defense against the cop or as royalties from a “Pigs Gone Wild” video. This is in addition to breaking their oath and violating your Constitutionally guaranteed right to be secure from search and seizure without due process of law.

    Generate your own content, use others as reference material (fair use if they published it as journalism), keep backup copies as research materials (fair use) but do not re-publish other people’s property – that is my advice.

    Of course, Lawyers prattle and they say that it is illegal for me to understand the law that I am subjected too so I can’t really advise you on my understanding of the law without violating it – you have to hire one of them and go through the court system that they often refer to as a “crap shoot” to find out what the law is (presumably this week anyway…)

    Good Luck!

  2. Andrew McCleese

    September 22, 2010 at 9:26 am

    “I think you would be OK (I’m assuming this is my copyright) if you posted the lead-in followed by a link to the copyright owners website for the complete article.”

    This seems to be what most websites do if simply reposting… most websites will have a disclaimer as to content sharing, for instance, you can not repost a Financial Times article and it is clearly stated on their page. Others, there is a gray area. Copyrights should, and usually are clearly displayed.

    “Its like the copy right on my comment here, it is owned by me and my rights are vested as I type. End of story. ”

    As to that comment, this doesn’t seem accurate, I thought the domains otherwise own the comment. For instance, who gets shut down if some commentor pops off some violent rhetoric? The website operator. Simply typing something does not prima facie mean it has a copyright. To have something copyrighten is a process, I only know this because I write copyrighted technical manuals that my employer then has to process and pay to have protected.

    “To copyright any material that you have created, you must register it with the copyright office at the Library of Congress. You must include three items in your packet that you send to the Library of Congress: 1) a completed application, 2) a filing fee for the application and 3) a copy of the work being registered. There are different applications for different media. For a complete list of the applications, visit the Copyright office’s Web site (see Resources below). The basic filing fee for a new work is $45. It must be remitted in check, money order or cashier’s check. No cash.A complete copy of the work you are copyrighting must be included. If it exists only in recording, a complete recording of it in some form must be included, be it on audio cassette, DAT tape or CD. All three of these things must be sent together to:Library of CongressCopyright Office101 Independence Avenue, SEWashington, DC 20559-6000″

    If you are quoting somebody as a source then I am not sure how copyright laws pertain. Certainly I agree with copyright laws as they pertain to intellectual property rights, but who could ever write a report, an article or a college paper without sourcing material with a copyright?

    I am sure the devils are buried in some 10,000 arcane piece of legislation…

  3. Brig Young

    October 10, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    No Offense but the gray area is your thinking on the subject. Copyright when plainly claimed establishes complete ownership of ALL works in ALL cases but fair use and using that work for your own benefit without permission is simply a criminal act. Some sites encourage people to share their articles, if they own or are assigned the publishing rights they have the right to do so.

    Vestment of copyright occurs at the moment of creation and is vested in the creator. That is the law, period. That is why any programming job has all that gobbledee gook about “work for hire.” Registration of copyright is not the only recognized method of proving copyright.

    A publisher like this site may hide text stating that you are assigning copyright to them but if they are claiming full rights other than a publishing license they will have to prove consideration for all of the other rights they are claiming you have assigned to them because you can’t have the claim without a contract, you can’t have a contract without consideration, and you can’t have consideration if the exchanged values are not of similar value.

    Crimes cannot establish rights, that is settled law so far as I know.

    You can source material and quote the relevant parts without violating copyright, what you can’t do is repost articles or reuse parts of articles as the body of your text with or without citation.

    Copyright 2010 Brig Young

  4. Andrew McCleese

    October 11, 2010 at 8:56 am

    BRIG – EVERYTHING WE DO HERE IS PROTECTED BY FAIR USE… I am not sure what you are arguing at this point. Additionally, if a work is unregistered, has little commercial value then it gets very little protection. Blogs that are not registered, does not generate subscription fees or advertising dollars may technically have a copyright as of 1989, however there is no practical protection of such works.

    The “fair use” exemption to (U.S.) copyright law was created to allow things such as commentary, parody, news reporting, research and education about copyrighted works without the permission of the author. That’s vital so that copyright law doesn’t block your freedom to express your own works — only the ability to appropriate other people’s. Intent, and damage to the commercial value of the work are important considerations. Are you reproducing an article from the New York Times because you needed to in order to criticise the quality of the New York Times, or because you couldn’t find time to write your own story, or didn’t want your readers to have to register at the New York Times web site? The first is probably fair use, the others probably aren’t.

    Fair use is generally a short excerpt and almost always attributed. (One should not use much more of the work than is needed to make the commentary.) It should not harm the commercial value of the work — in the sense of people no longer needing to buy it (which is another reason why reproduction of the entire work is a problem.) Famously, copying just 300 words from Gerald Ford’s 200,000 word memoir for a magazine article was ruled as not fair use, in spite of it being very newsworthy, because it was the most important 300 words — why he pardoned Nixon.

    Note that most inclusion of text in followups and replies is for commentary, and it doesn’t damage the commercial value of the original posting (if it has any) and as such it is almost surely fair use. Fair use isn’t an exact doctrine, though. The court decides if the right to comment overrides the copyright on an individual basis in each case. There have been cases that go beyond the bounds of what I say above, but in general they don’t apply to the typical net misclaim of fair use.

    The “fair use” concept varies from country to country, and has different names (such as “fair dealing” in Canada) and other limitations outside the USA.

    Facts and ideas can’t be copyrighted, but their expression and structure can. You can always write the facts in your own wordsthough

    See the DMCA alert for recent changes in the law.

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