The Naptime Blogger: Late-night Law Edition

After dark, the Naptime Blogger stops being the thoughts and stories of a nerdy stay-at-home mom, and assumes its alter ego as a badass legal blog.

Or something like that.

Remember kids, I am not a lawyer…I just play one on the internet 😉

In all seriousness, law and legal theory have fascinated me for quite some time. Back in high school I was positive I was going to grow up to be a lawyer that could be classified as a “first amendment badass” working for the ACLJ, ACLU or some other organization that protected the constitutional rights of people, most particularly the freedoms of speech and religion. Then some stuff happened, I went to college, and fell in love with 19th Century European History.

I love history like I love my husband. Law is like my high school sweetheart, we’re still close friends, but the romance is over; although, unlike my high school sweetheart, I still look back and wonder “what if” and I’m occasionally tempted to have an affair with law (and by that I mean get my JD instead of going for my Masters/PhD in History when I go back to school).

Lately I’ve had some issues with insomnia, and frequently find myself wide awake long after EJ and Hubby have gone to bed (which is part of why there haven’t been many naptime posts, I’ve been napping with EJ)

So to do something more productive than playing games on facebook and looking at pictures of cats, I’ve decided to dedicate my late night posts to legal stuff that interests me.

Tonight’s Post:

The Curious Case of On Press Inc

This story was first broken by Tim Cushing over at Techdirt and I highly recommend reading that article (and its follow-up), but I’ll give a quick TL;DR version, then get into what has developed since the publication of the follow-up.

So there’s this poem, “Tongues Made of Glass”

“If only our tongues were made of glass, how much more careful we would be when we speak.”

It’s the kind of thing you’d see angsty teens and hipsters put as text on Instagram/stock photos of scenery and post to Tumblr, Facebook, and Pinterest ad nauseam. Given its length, it is also perfect to tweet on Twitter. Its author is an obscure (he doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry) poet named Sean Shane, whose other poems are the kind of quality you’d expect from the aforementioned angsty teens aspiring to be the next Shel Silverstein, while lacking his talent.*

Enter On Press Inc. which claims to be Shane’s publisher (although that is questionable…I told you to go and read the Techdirt articles). Whenever anyone tweets the poem, one of many accounts (which are constantly changing, as Twitter suspends them) starts sending harassing tweets with terrible spelling and grammar informing them that they are breaking copyright law and Twitter is going to suspend their accounts.

Of course, it is quite ironic that the “protector(s)” of a poem about the power of words is harassing “copyright infringers” and flinging insults at them…but I digress.

Of course, it is not copyright infringement per se to quote something (including the entirety of a poem) without the author’s permission (IANAL, so I can’t go into all the nuanced details of copyright law). If that were the case, authors would be going after students for quoting them in term papers and every blogger would need to seek permission of every person they want to reference in their post (and wait for a response before publishing the post). Fair Use exists for just such purposes. Perhaps the only place where On Press Inc might (that being the operative word) have a legitimate claim, are on blogs and such that profit through ads, or Twitters etc that promote a business, but not from random Twitter users quoting something they read somewhere once (or blogs like mine that are not for profit). And of course, even then he probably doesn’t have a claim, because the poem isn’t registered at the copyright office (according to Cushing)

Things take a turn for the absurd. Smelling blood in the water, trolls and law/tech bloggers started a feeding frenzy tweeting the poem, hoping to get a response. Among them was Popehat who had a rather interesting exchange with the would-be censor(s).

After Popehat’s post was published things got REALLY strange. At that point, the On Press Inc. accounts started having conversations with each other WHILE MENTIONING OTHER USERS BUT NOT MENTIONING EACH OTHER. I’ve imbedded a few examples below and Tim Cushing has compiled them all on Storify (Including ones from a now suspended twitter account, please go read them, they give a much better picture of the absurdity)

Now, if you know anything about twitter, there are only three ways that these multiple accounts can see what each other are tweeting and have a conversation. The first is by @ mentioning each other, the second is for all the accounts to not only be following each other, but to also be following @takedownlawyer, @popehat, and whoever else they are @ mentioning in their conversation, the third is for them to be constantly watching each others feed.

As I’ve already mentioned, they are not using the first method(as evidenced by the tweets I’ve posted, as well as the ones on Storify), which is how normal people have conversations on twitter.

The second method works like this: If @takedownlawyer starts his tweet to @popehat with “@popehat” I will see it in my feed because I follow both of them. However, if he were to tweet someone I wasn’t following, I would not see it in my feed. Now none of these accounts were following the people in the above tweets, so there is no way those tweets were showing up in the news feed of the people they were intended for.

The third method would require them to have a tab open on their browser for every other account (or a column in TweetDeck for each account), and to be actively refreshing each of those. This is suspect for several reasons. 1st, why would these “employees” be doing that when they are supposed to be monitoring twitter for people “infringing” on the poem’s copyright, if I were their employer they would be fired for that. 2nd, they would have to be crazy fast with the refreshing to be able to respond to each other as quickly as they did. 3rd, how is this easier/better than just @ mentioning each other and having a conversation like a normal person (or having a vocal conversation, assuming they are in the same building)

So in conclusion this is the most brain-dead, half-assed, ridiculous rouse to make people believe that one single person is a whole staff (with shifts and breaks and everything), I have ever seen.* All this does is prove that his understanding of Twitter is on par with his understanding of Copyright Law; that is to say I’m fairly confident that EJ (who I will remind you is 8 months old) has a better understanding than “On Press Inc.”*

Also worth noting: The On Press Inc tweets this link to give people info about Shane and the poem. This includes a list of websites related to Shane. First note, none of them are an official website for either him or his publisher (and many of them, such as https://sites.google.co/site/shaunshanepoet/ just pull up a 404), lots of them are Tumblr or Blogspot domains. Secondly, there are 5, yes FIVE, twitter accounts listed. With the exception of @ShaunShanePoet all of the rest are handles of seemingly random combinations of letters, not unlike the ones for On Press Inc, Shane’s supposed publisher.

Perhaps its just a coincidence, but I have my money on it being the same person. And if I had to guess, I would say that the person behind all of this is Shane (which, according to his bio is a pseudonym)

But I think we are only starting down this bizarre rabbit hole, we shall see what develops in the coming days.

*CMA disclamer: This statement is my own personal opinion and not a statement of fact. I am not legally responsible for any butthurt that results from this statement.

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2 thoughts on “The Naptime Blogger: Late-night Law Edition

  1. James Henslon February 25, 2013 at 7:17 AM

    Someone disagrees with you about Shane. And considers him at least equal to Silverstein. Scroll now this page (the link at the end of this ) and you will see Shane listed with Wallace Stevens, Emily Dickinson, Ogden Nash and yes Shel Silverstein. You should become better versed in Comtempary Poetry before you make such uninformed post. Here is Shane’s listing among these other poets. http://www.elitismstyle.com/blogazine/category/poetry/page/2/

  2. NaptimeBlogger February 25, 2013 at 6:15 PM

    Oh of course! Just because some other random person with a website lists Shane (or should I say, you?) along with Dickinson, Nash and Silverstein, my opinion is null and void. You see, that’s the beauty of literary criticism, each critic can have their own opinion, there is very little absolute right or wrong in poetry.
    While I may not be well versed in “Comtempary Poetry” I do actually know quite a bit about CONTEMPORARY poetry (you really should learn to spell), as I was a Literature major before I switched to History, and have written quite a bit of poetry myself.
    Also, as an academic, I have been taught not to trust everything I read on the internet; that one needs reliable sources. So, if you can present me with some academically published, professionally written literary criticism or commentary, I’d be willing to change my opinion. But as far as I can see, none exists. In fact, none of my literature professors have even heard of Shane.
    So as such, my opinion that he writes like an angsty hipster teen with very little skill is a valid opinion.

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