Dan Lyons, Infringing My Copyright?

Wow!

Has Dan Lyons actually infringed my copyright?

I was just having a quick browse through his blog, to get an idea of how varied (or otherwise) his blog articles are, and I found that he’d once chosen a comment of mine on Groklaw as his “Groklaw comment of the week”. Never knew I’d been blogged about by “a senior editor at Forbes magazine”.

What’s really struck me, though, is that he seems to have copied a lot of my comment. More than really seems necessary. Actually, he seems to have copied almost the whole comment. Looks like the only thing he omitted was the brief bit about my amusement at someone’s parents not being “skilled enough to kill a nautilus task.” “Fair use”? Let’s run through the checklist:-

  • Criticism? Yeah, perhaps. But did he really need to copy almost the whole comment for that? He could have just linked to the comment. He could have linked to it, and quoted some of it, which would have been fine by me, and still been able to make his criticism. Did he really, genuinely need to quote nearly the whole comment? I’m not convinced.
  • Comment? Same again.
  • News reporting? What’s the news? Again, he could have linked to my comment, etc.
  • Teaching? Was he trying to teach readers of the existence of Apple Mac OS X? (I’ll come back to that, but not on the “fair use” issue.) Again, how would it justify copying almost the whole comment?
  • Scholarship? What’s he trying to learn? Why would he then need to copy almost the whole comment? Doesn’t look like scholarship to me, anyway.
  • Research? What’s he researching? It really doesn’t look like research.
  • Parody? Er, it’s basically the bulk of my comment! It’s not a parody of my comment, is it? It’s just the comment, with (I think just) one, small bit edited out.

Er, that’s it. I don’t see how fair use justifies copying almost the whole comment. Of course, I’m not a lawyer, and maybe there’s case law that does say that fair use covers what he’s doing. But it really looks to me like he’d be stretching it if he claimed fair use. He really didn’t need to copy so much of my comment for his criticism, commentary, whatever.

So, shall I sue him? Ohhh, the temptation! Shall I send him a strongly, clearly worded “cease’n’desist”? Shall I be rather more sensible and seek proper legal advice first, before doing anything else? (Well, I’ve sort of passed on that one, in writing this article before seeking any legal advice. Oh, I’m so dashing!) I’ll, um, think about it.

Anyway, as I parenthetically mentioned above, I’ll come back to his pointer:-

Yes, I have a pointer. There’s this really cool group of super smart engineers who took some open-source code and solved all the problems you’re having, and added a really gorgeous user interface. See here.

Yeah, and how will Mac OS X run on my ageing PC?

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