January 21, 2007
Last night we had our first argument. Mike wanted me to put the hosting fees for the archived website on my credit card. I wanted to know what responsibilities I was signing up for if it came to getting sued. I’ve always maintained that FTW’s treatment of T 17’s could land them in copyright trouble.
T-17's, or Title 17's, were a critical wing of FTW in which Mike or occasionally, one of the rest of us, commented on a mainstream news item. This was where the research Rice Farmer and I did ended up. We both sent links, sometimes pointing out significant quotes from the article.
Copyright law, especially on the internet, is in constant flux with inconsistencies about what per cent of an original article can be quoted or what per cent of the resulting article the quote can take up. Sometimes it's not a question of quantity but of quality. For instance, prior to publication, a memoir by President Gerald Ford was quoted in a review which highlighted Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon over Watergate. The quote was small but the court found that it was virtually the only interesting part of the book. This redounded to the disadvantage of the reviewer. You can't cut out the heart of a work, even if it's infinitesimal.
I was aware of the "fair use" exception to copyright law - the freedom granted in the case of educational intent - and sympathized with FTW's stand that readers were at least as interested in the commentary they found at the website as in the original article. If they only wanted mainstream news, after all, it was readily available. Even when FTW didn't comment, its readers wanted to know what, of the deluge of mainstream information available, FTW considered significant.
But I didn't want to have to make that argument in court.
Mike called my worries "irrational" and said “Fuck” several times. The word "fuck" itself doesn't faze me; I use it many times a day but not to someone's face about what they themselves are doing.
"We've never had that problem," he said, in the venerable tradition of, "We never thought a plane would fly into a building."
Sure, but the enemy is inventive when it comes to new forms of victimization. History doesn't repeat itself verbatim.
The next morning was when he awoke from the dream about guys in jackboots breaking down the door. This was followed by the dream of his leaving for a trip, the way his father used to, while his kids were in the bath. (For anyone who missed the earlier post relaying this dream, his wife in it was the young female employee who sued him for sexual harassment.)
He sent an email to his psychiatrist about the dreams and the argument last night. She responded that his behavior in the argument was the sort that had probably gotten him into trouble with his employees in Ashland.
In the bath, he cried with regret for the people he’d pushed away.
“You heard me apologize, didn’t you?”
I said yes, inferring that if he died, I should convey the apology to them.
“You can tell them yourself,” I added, thinking it would be therapeutic for him.
“I don’t know how to reach them.”
Later he said, “I know everything you’ve done for me.” Another final-sounding comment.