A formal response to the Whirled
The following letter from my attorney is en route to the Tulsa World tonight, in response to their allegations of copyright infringement and threat of legal action against BatesLine. I am represented by Ronald D. Coleman, general counsel of the Media Bloggers Association. Many thanks to Bob Cox of the National Debate (and a founder of the Media Bloggers Association) for contacting me about the organization, and many thanks to Ron Coleman for working with me. If you are a blogger engaged in coverage or criticism of the media, you should join the Media Bloggers Association.
Here is the text -- a PDF of the letter is linked below.
February 17, 2005
Mr. John R. Bair
315 South Boulder
P.O. Box 74103-3423
Tulsa, OK 74102-1770
Dear Mr. Bair:
I am general counsel of the Media Bloggers Association (www.mediabloggers.org) and write on behalf of Mr. Michael Bates, in connection with your letter of February 11, 2005.
The World's complaint appears to be twofold. Let us dispose of the first issue quickly -- the claim that Mr. Bates's website "has inappropriately linked . . . to Tulsa World content." Why a newspaper with a website would want to prevent Internet users from gaining access to that website, regardless of the referral source, is a question best left to the World Publishing Company's board of directors. But while Mr. Bates's links may be "inappropriate" in the view of your newspaper, Mr. Bair, there is no legal basis whatsoever on which the World may prevent it.
Regarding the World's claim that Mr. Bates is reproducing copyrighted material in whole or in part in violation of the Copyright Act, this accusation must be rejected as well. Not only does the First Amendment protect Mr. Bates's activities, but the Copyright Act itself includes a "fair use" exception, granting parties the ability to use copyrighted material without permission from the owner for purposes of commenting or criticism. Mr. Bates's use of excerpted material from the World is obviously fair use and constitutionally protected speech.
Your organization's attempt to intimidate a small media competitor and a critic with the threat of legal action over his free speech is ironic, but it is unfortunately not unique. The Media Bloggers Association Legal Defense Project was formed expressly for the purpose of providing legal advice and counsel, and if necessary to assist in securing local counsel, for webloggers and others whose freedom of expression is threatened by established institutions who act as if the purpose of the First Amendment were to protect a sort of media monopoly. It is not.
We write therefore to advise the World that Mr. Bates is represented by counsel and by the Association, and that any further attempts to silence him, including the filing of meritless litigation as threatened by your letter, will be vigorously defended, including to the extent appropriate by the seeking of sanctions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 in connection with the filing of meritless litigation claims.
Very truly yours,
Ronald D. Coleman
You'll find a PDF of the letter here.
Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: A formal response to the Whirled.
TrackBack URL for this entry:
I just got accepted to Media Bloggers, a large community of bloggers that serves as a clearing house for resources and more. The group is non-partisan as you may deduce immidiately from its well-known founding members. Most notably as of late is their... Read More
Michael Bates returns fire with a little help from Media Bloggers Association. It will be interesting to see how Tulsa World (pardon the link) responds. By the way, take a few moments to check out the Media Bloggers Association. It looks like a usef... Read More
The Media Bloggers Assocation has taken on the case of Bateslines v. Tulsa World. Michael Bates has put up the letter MBA General Counsel fedex to the Tulsa World yesterday. For those who don't know, I have been involved in... Read More
Read all about it: the counsel for the Media Bloggers Association is representing Michael D. Bates in response to the allegations of the Tulsa World that by linking to and briefly quoting from articles, Bates had violated copyright law. The... Read More
The following letter from my attorney is en route to the Tulsa World tonight, in response to their allegations of copyright infringement and threat of legal action against BatesLine. I am represented by Ronald D. Coleman, general counsel of the Media B... Read More
The Media Bloggers Association is now representing Michael Bates of Batesline in his legal dispute with the Tulsa World newspaper. From Batesline: The following letter from my attorney is en route to the Tulsa World tonight, in response to their... Read More
Daily Pundit is now a proud, dues-paying member of the Media Bloggers Association. There is safety in numbers, and given the troubled waters into which the fragile frigates of the blogosphere may be sailing, it might well behoove you to... Read More