YOYOW 2007

You Own Your Own Words is one of those phrases that means a lot to those who (being a little older than I) are veterans of Ye Olde Internet. Associated in particular with The Well, YOYOW meant two different but interlocked things – you take responsibility for your own opinions, and you continue to *own* them (in the sense that The Well didn’t claim copyright, and you could go off and raise hell if said words were used elsewhere without your permission). (More on the history here).

That was then, of course. Lighting up the blogopuddle today, though, is an illustration of how easy it is for someone else to OYOW. John McCain has been using a clip from a debate in a political advertisement (the clip being his own words and nothing else), but apparently Fox is not happy, and has written threatening letters to put a stop to it (we presume they mean TV and Internet use – it’s available on both). They claim that fair use cannot apply because it is for ‘commercial’ use (come again?), and even persist in the complaint despite the (significant) free advertising through the on-screen logo/credit (a prudent inclusion by the McCain folks, one would have thought?)

More from the New York Times ‘Caucus’ blog here; watch the ad (for the time being) here. Note, of course, that I don’t actually agree with the point McCain is making in the ad, although that is irrelevant.

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4 thoughts on “YOYOW 2007

  1. Fox are playing a dangerous game. I can foresee a respectable argument that First Amendment political speech concerns make it a non-commercial fair use. And an express Federal Circuit Court holding to that effect would certainly set the cat amongst the pigeons for those broadcasters like Fox who continue to insist on restricting copyright in political debates which they host / broadcast.

  2. For what it’s worth, a similar Canadian flap (see here and here) in January provoked Michael Geist (here) into commenting that such usage would be fair use in the USA and the law ought to be changed to reach such a conclusion in Canada. I’m with you; I want someone to call Fox’s bluff.

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