I don’t like Sarah Palin. I come from small towns and I recognize her as the kind of person whose radar you’d just want to stay off of. That being said, it seems like there’s this effort to… I don’t know… we need a word for this… but cause a kind of wave of sentiment against her that makes whatever happens to her okay. Do you know what I mean?
And I kind of get the impetus behind it, even, like if we make it okay to say and do every terrible thing we can get away with, maybe folks who we know have actual dirt on the Palins will come forward and spill it!
But I don’t like it.
Anyway, so Gawker posted pages from Palin’s book and Palin tweeted something like “Isn’t that illegal?” and everyone laughed. I even saw one tweet that was retweeted that said this was why she should never be allowed to be president, as if she’s just so stupid that she doesn’t realize posting pages of one’s book without permission on a website is okay.
But it is illegal.
She’s not wrong.
See, this is the thing I think people don’t get about Palin–yes, she’s pseudo-folksy in an annoying way that is obviously an affectation, yes, she is completely uninterested in the world in ways I find appalling, and yes, the idea of her being president scares the shit out of me.
But she is NOT stupid. And there are a lot of people who have mistaken her incuriousity for stupidity.
And there are a lot of people who think that, because we don’t like her, whatever we try to do to her is okay.
But just taking pages out of her book and posting them on your website, as Gawker has done? I have no idea how they thought this was going to pass some fair-use smell test. They were using the passages for commercial purposes–to draw eyes to their site and thus their ads. They had plucked out what they thought would be juicy parts of interest to people who now won’t bother to buy the book–thus hurting the potential market. They didn’t provide any real comment on the page after page they posted, so it doesn’t constitute “illustration or clarification of the author’s observations” and they didn’t summarize “an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report.”
I’m not a copyright attorney, but I play “How can we do what we need to do without infringing on others’ copyrights?” at work all the time and I swim in the “non-commercial” end of the pool, where we take a little firmer stand on fair use than other parts of the publishing world and this seems ludicrous to me.
I can’t imagine how it seemed even remotely plausible to someone in a commercial venture.
And even if they thought they could pull a fast one on poor old “stupid” Sarah Palin, I have no idea how they thought they were going not have to face HarperCollins in the court room.