Legal Aspects of Social Media for Non-Profits – Panel Presentation

If you are involved in the use of social media by and for non-profit organizations or just generally interested in legal issues arising out of the use of social media, and you will be in St. Louis on the afternoon of March 10, I have a panel presentation for you.

Here are the details:

Online Communities for Your Nonprofit: Legal Aspects of Social Media

March 10 – 3:00PM – 4:30PM

A panel of information technology attorneys from the St. Louis Corporate Counsel Association Pro Bono Committee will discuss the potential benefits of social media for nonprofits and provide an understanding of the legal issues and risks involved. They will suggest ways to create a successful online community without unhappy surprises.

Call 314-539-0357 to reserve your seat.

Schlafly Branch of the St. Louis Public Library (225 North Euclid Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63108 (314) 367-4120)

The panelists for the presentation will be JulieAnn Broyles (Ascension Healthcare), Elizabeth Cox, Peter Salsich and me.

We’re planning to do lots of Q & A and try to cover what’s on our audience’s minds. Bring your questions. We hope to see you there.

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]

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The Benefits of Treating Regular Customers Like Criminals

I can see no benefits to treating your regular customers like they are criminals, but I’m not in the music industry, where that seems to be a standard practice.
I bought some CDs from Amazon and they arrived today.
I tried to open them so I could play them.
Five full minutes, a pair of scissors, and a sharp knife later, I was ready to give up on getting the last one open before it finally relented and I could remove the shrinkwrap and get started on that sticky tape that keeps the jewel case closed and sticks persistently to your fingers when you try to throw it away. I honestly don’t know how people with arthritis or disabilities get these things opened.
At the end of my ordeal, I was no longer excited about playing the music. I was too tired to put the CDs into a CD player, let alone rip songs into iTunes to put on my iPod.
However, that might be the purpose of the shrinkwrap obstacle course. In Good Morning Silicon Valley last week, Jennifer Pariser, the head of litigation for Sony BMG, was quoted as saying:

“When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song. [Making a copy of a purchased song is] a nice way of saying ’steals just one copy’.”

The music industry, like many others, is at a crossroads. Improving the experience for regular customers has to be part of the right path, doesn’t it? Music is especially interesting because people who listen to a lot of music and like music, recommend it to their friends and others, resulting in more sales, larger concert attendance, et al. Word of mouth is a huge thing for bands.
Yet, rather tha making it even easier to listen to music and talk about it and recommend it, the music industry does things like raise questions whether copying music you already own is “stealing.”
Since two of the CDs are from Sony’s labels, I’ll now have to determine whether ripping to iTunes is “stealing just one copy” or whether it’s part of what I got when I bought the CD. I’m wondering if playing the CD in my car and at home will also be seen as a way of “stealing just one copy.” Maybe I’ll just play the CDs on Sony CD players, that should be a safe harbor, I would hope.
Sony also got a “thumbs down” on its approach to DRM on Movie DVDs in the post “Paying Customers Are the Enemy” on the Technology Liberation Front blog (hmm, notice a common theme). The money quote:

It’s worth keeping in mind that only the legitimate customers have to jump through these kinds of hoops. If you’re stupid enough to follow the rules and pay hard-earned cash for your movies, Hollywood rewards you by making you spend a relaxing evening learning how to update your movie player’s firmware. People who break the law and get their movies via a P2P network don’t have to worry about these sorts of headaches, as those files tend to come pre-cracked and in an open format playable on any device.

As many have said before, the entertainment industry needs to focus on ways to make it simpler and easier to comply with legal requirements than it is not to comply with them. Unfortunately, suggesting that making copies for your own use is “stealing” is not a step in that direction.
Update: Check out Ian’ Rogers’ presentation Convenience Wins, Hubris Loses and Content vs. Context, a Presentation for Some Music Industry Friends.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
Read the blog posts and RSS feed items I find most interesting on Google Reader Shared Items or subscribe to its RSS feed. High volume, but lots of interesting items that will get you thinking.
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Plagiarism, Splogs and Fair Use of Web Content

Elinor Mills has an article on (and also in the NY Times) called “Please Don’t Steal This Web Content” that I recommend to anyone who publishes materials on the Web. Elinor talked to me during her preparation and there are some small quotes from me in the article, briefly summarizing some basic legal points.
The money quote, from Matt Cutts of Google:

For sites that syndicate their content through feeds, adding a link to the original source of the article at the top or the bottom of a page with wording to the effect of “this article was originally printed here” will help ensure that Google’s search engine displays the original item, not a reproduction, on a scraped site, [Cutts] said.

I like that quote because it validates the technique I decided to adopt quite a while ago as the best practical defense against splogs and automatic “repurposing” of my posts.
In response to the article, John Palfrey made some excellent points in his post “CNET Touches on Blogs and Copyright Issue“about how it’s difficult to believe that there’s still so much uncertainty and such a lack of workable enforcement or compensation mechanisms. It’s something that more of us should be thinking about. I’ve wished for a few years that Creative Commons would take more of a lead role in the practical aspects, but maybe it’s time to look in other directions.
Denise Howell makes a similar point here when she writes: “I have long thought Creative Commons moves us significantly closer to this third estate media ecosystem, but doesn’t quite take us all the way there.”
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
Read the blog posts and RSS feed items I find most interesting on my new linkblog or subscribe to its RSS feed.
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Talking About GPL and Creative Commons for Bloggers

Thanks to Charles Stricklin and Aaron Brazell at the WordPress Podcast, I got to join them and answer questions and talk about intellectual property and licensing issues facing bloggers, with a special focus on Open Source licenses, the GPL (GNU General Public LIcense), and the Creative Commons licenses. We also talked a bit about GPL 3.0. I had a great time talking with Aaron and Charles and recommend their podcast, especially for WordPress users and those thinking about moving their blogs to WordPress. It’s episode #26 for the WordPress Podcast and the episode is here.
The idea of the podcast was to give a general overview of these issues and give people a general framework for considering the licensing issues. There are a lot of misconceptions and questions about these licenses. I hope that the podcast contributes to the general discussion and shows people the nuances and difficulties of some of these issues. I might have raised more new questions than I provided answers.
I’ve written about the Open Source licenses before (see my article here) and our discussion on Between Lawyers about whether to apply a Creative Commons license to our blog is still a great, practical lesson about the issues involved with the Creative Commons licenses.
I also noticed today that Dave Winer has started a discussion about the Creative Commons licenses. I recommend following that discussion as well if you are interested in these licenses, especially if you’ve already applied one to your work.
Link to podcast. Thanks again Charles and Aaron.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
Like what you are reading? Check out the other blogs where I post – Between Lawyers (feed) and the LexThink Blog (feed).
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NY Times on Employee Blogging Issues – With a Quote from Dennis Kennedy

Check out the article in today’s NY Times called “Interns? No Bloggers Need Apply” by Anna Bahney, which explores the intersection of blogging and employment.
Anna and I spoke earlier this week while she was working on the article and there’s a quote from me in the article toward the end of the piece. Our conversation was quite interesting and I may return to some of the ideas we discussed in future posts on my blog. I thank Anna for including me.
I’ve written quite a bit on blogging policies and blogging and employment/expression issues on the Between Lawyers blog. Our archive of posts on blogging policies is an excellent collection of writings on these topics.
As they say, there’s nothing like being able to drop casually into a conversation, “oh, I was quoted in the New York Times this morning.”
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
Like what you are reading? Check out the other blogs where I post – Between Lawyers (feed) and the LexThink Blog (feed).
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