Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Copyright Law and Brave Men

Over on Ron Martini's BBS, we find a story that looks like another case of the media vs. the little guy, but in this case, the "little guy" is just about the toughest A-ganger I know, and he's not taking it lying down:

"Aight, I do not like to post this, but I am being hunted by a reporter from the above said organization [Navy Times]. It seems a letter I posted on, a private BBS for Chiefs, was leaked to blogs, and now this reporter wants to use all of the online letters from US, PROUD submariners, to sell papers in a future navytimes paper about the San Fran.
"Fellas, that really gets my goad, and I don't like it. I already have friends checking on the legality of it. The letter I wrote was just days after the grounding and very emotional in nature, and I do not want it published on paper for somebody to market or make money on. I need you shipmates to help me and email the editor at navytimes and stop this BS. I posted that letter to my shipmates to let them understand what and how bad a severe casualty could do to even the highest trained people on the submarine.

"I might lose this fight, and my letter be published, but I will not support it. What I need is the support of other people to email them and let them know that we won't put up with it.
"The leaked letter? Hahaha, here it is, a uncut version that was explained by an ex submariner. Click the link, and you will see my thoughts."
San Fran Diving Officer

"Hagar" is the nom de plume of the submariner who was the Diving Officer of the Watch on USS San Francisco (SSN 711) during her recent collision. I'll write more on this later, but for now, please write the Navy Times by clicking here and leaving feedback.

Update 1314 09 March: As I was researching the applicable copyrights laws that Hagar might be able to use in an effort to prevent publication, I found this piece over at Legal Database. (As I checked back at Martini's BBS, someone else had also found it, so I could have saved myself some Googling.) The relevent portion:

"Works put on the Internet are considered “published” and therefore qualify for copyright protection. A work put on the Internet is not considered public domain simply because it was posted on the Internet and free for anyone to download and copy. You need permission from the site owner to publish any materials, including photographs, music, and artwork from the site.
"The best way to enforce Internet copyright is through the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The
Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 is designed primarily to limit the liability of Internet service providers for acts of copyright infringement by customers who are using the providers' systems or networks..."

So, it would seem that Hagar's work is protected by copyright. This wouldn't protect him from having The Navy Times print a "fair use" portion of it if they attributed it to him, but I think it could keep them from printing the whole thing. I'd be interested to hear what any law-bloggers might have to say about this. Eagle1, how copy?

Staying at PD...


Blogger Alex Nunez said...

You know, every time I read a new account of the San Francisco grounding (by new, I mean "new to me"), I find myself sitting dumbfounded as I mentally process just how catastrophic the accident was, and just how superhuman the crew's efforts to assist the injured and get the boat home home in one piece were. It is truly inspirational, and is, in my opinion, the most underreported story of the year.

I'll probably blog this later, and I'll be sure to send my (very small number of) readers this way.

3/09/2005 10:32 AM

Blogger Alex Nunez said...

Lets leave copyright law and fair use out of it for a moment. Would it kill the Navy Times to simply respect his wishes and not print the letter for God's sake? It isn't as if this is the only information stream they have to work with, nor is it the only letter that made it into "the wild" as it were. There are more sources of information about the story than this particular letter. The cultivation and presentation of those other sources and stories has a name: Journalism...

3/09/2005 1:38 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Behind the scenes, this whole thing is moving along pretty quickly. While Alex is right that the issue should be about what's right for the Sailor, I think that the copywrite issue may be the only thing they'll listen to.

3/09/2005 10:16 PM

Blogger Eagle1 said...

Roger, copy all. However, my thought is that the MMCS should consult with an attorney of his choosing who practices in the area of copyright law - an area of the law far removed from my areas of knowledge. Depending on where the MMCS lives, the local or state bar association should be able to refer him to an appropriate attorney or law firm.

As a matter of policy, I do not give individual legal advice on on the internet. If I do address legal matters, it is meant to be in a general sense of expressing my opinion of general principles of law and/or law and society. None of my comments should ever be construed as giving anyone any specific legal advice. Anyone who would rely on legal advice of any stripe provided over the internet by anyone, including by me, is making a serious mistake.

Again, the MMCS should engage and consult his own attorney.

3/10/2005 5:59 AM

Blogger CDR Salamander said...

Eagle1 is right on this count. He needs an attny. The Navy Enquirer....umm...Navy Times, is a Gannett newspaper (USA Today et al) so they really do not have much "brother in arms" desire to help out with the privacy desires of a shipmate. I don't know of any former JAG willing to do this pro bono, but a well done letter from an attny should do the trick to stop a whole-hog use of his post. Remember, because it is part of a printing empire, a reporter will gladly throw you overboard to advance his career, and out of the "Military Papers" dungeon.

3/10/2005 6:22 AM

Blogger Chap said...

The other option, though annoying, is to direct input into the article.

The guy who emailed guys back home when he lost the canopy on his fighter over Afghanistan had the same problem.

3/13/2005 9:52 PM


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