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Wednesday June 29, 2005 12:01 am

Gnomedex 5.0: Denise Howell, Buzz Bruggeman, Jason Calacanis on Today’s Digital Legalities

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As it turns out, Supreme Court has already cited a blog in a major decision. This should give you an idea of the power you have nowadays as an independent content publisher.

Jason talked about getting a legal letter from posting a Windows Mobile 5 screenshot. His advice was to pick up the phone and call the lawyer directly. He called and was told it is a trade secret, with his response being that he took a shot of a message board. He had no NDA with Microsoft, so the shot shouldn’t need to come down. We are journalists and we write about stuff. If someone walked across the street with a new iPod and someone snapped an image, would that be a trade secret infringement? The lawyer said no, and Jason rests his case. Internet entrepreneurs need to know that they shouldn’t be easily scared by the power that be. A legal letter can be scary, but Jason forces the lawyer to file the papers. Lawyers don’t want to discuss it, they just want you to do what they say. Stick to your guns.

One way to protect yourself is to say how you know something if you don’t know that it is true. For example, you can use words like “claimed” or “allegedly” if you want to report on a rumor. If you make a mistake, update the page. They also made mention of the EFF Legal Guide that we told you about a few weeks ago. Another great tool is Wikipedia’s Fair Use page.


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