Saturday, February 6, 2010

Lawyers Are Running (and Ruining) the World

I was meditating on my reply to Ann T.'s thoughtful post on women's magazines just now. Tonight I am using the WiFi at Barnes and Noble, and while thinking, I thought, hey, get a couple photos of the mags on display, that would be cool. Well, I ran over and snapped a couple pics. After I snapped the last one, a store employee came over and said I couldn't take pictures "copyright laws". Excuse me? You can't see any one cover clearly and the photos were taken with a $90 camera at a distance of six feet! "Well, you can't take any pictures in the store. You have to get permission from corporate." I said, well, OK, I'll delete them right here. And I might have.

Lawyers are scary. They can really hurt you. But this is bullshit. Simple photos for private use. A reference to use to pick out especially egregious examples of the claptrap that is in women's magazines. Maybe, I might put one in the blog entry as an illustration. There is no charge to read the blog. I would have accomplished the same thing if I had taken notes, or seen the rags in the library. I do understand protecting creative product. However, there is also a concept called "fair use." The whole thing was a pretty much a customer service fail as far as I am concerned, a heavy handed application of "principle." That B&N worker should remember that Borders has books, mags and WiFi too.

Not too long ago, a women in the Chicago area was arrested for copyright issues when four minutes of the movie "Twilight" she, her sister and her BFFs were watching showed in the background of a video she shot of the group singing happy birthday. Thankfully, the movie theater came to their senses and dropped the charges about a week later, but still, to even think for a minute she was trying to commit a crime is just absurd.

Old joke: What's the difference between the scene where a skunk got hit by a car and where a lawyer got hit by a car? There are skid marks before the skunk was hit.


Ann T. said...

Dear The Observer,
I have never understood that cockamamie rule. Especially since during signings, it was okay to get a shot of a reader with the author--so long as the author was willing.

just hooey.

Ann T.
Thanks for stopping by and linking to my post! How nice!

my password is under. under what? I had 'joking' the other day. unbelievable.

the observer said...

Ann T--

If it had been put to me as a problem due to worrying about competition, I can understand that...

It wasn't a boycottable offense. Especially since Borders may have books, magazines, and WiFi, but they do not have a Starbucks Cafe with nice teas and cookies.

I often have a "Cuppa" when I internet there!

Thanks for reading

The Observer