Holmes Report Blog

The Holmes Report blog focuses on news and issues of interest to public relations professionals. Our main site can be found at www.holmesreport.com.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

What's Fair?: One of the posters responding to my Disney Disgrace item questions whether the use of clips from Disney Radio Station KSFO are really “fair use.” Under the circumstances, a definition might be handy.

From the U.S. copyright office: “Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered ‘fair,’ such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.

“Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair: 1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; 2. the nature of the copyrighted work; 3. amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and 4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.”

Spocko was clearly using the Disney segment for the purposes of criticsm, comment, and news reporting.

The use was clearly not for commercial purposes, and equally clearly was for educational purposes.

He used only excerpts, and did not post “the copyrighted work as a whole.”

The use had no effect upon the potential market value of the copyrighted work. Indeed, the nature of the news business is such that the market value of the work was non-existent by the time Spocko made his post. (It may have had an effect on the market value of KSFO's future output, but that's a separate issue.)

In other words, it is difficult to imagine a more clear-cut case of fair use.
Meatpuppet Alert: If you were still wondering why wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has it in for public relations people, Ben Goldacre provides an example of the kind of inept and unethical activity that tars the whole profession with the same brush.

Goldacre is the author of the excellent “Bad Science” column in The Guardian, which is dedicated to exposing the most egregious examples of junk science. (That’s junk science as in science that is deeply, fatally flawed. Or non-existent. Not junk science in the Steven Milloy sense, which is to say science wll-supported by the facts but in conflict with the short-term interests of big corporations.)

Anyway, at his blog Goldacre discusses the editing of a wikipedia article about self-styled nutritionist Patrick Holford. (In the U.K., anyone can call him or herself a nutritionist; Holford’s only relevant qualification appears to be a Diploma in Nutritional Therapy, awarded by his own Institute of Optimum Nutrition.

Goldacre had written critically of Holford’s credentials and his tendency to make claims unsupported by science. A reference to those criticisms made it into wikipedia, but was later edited out. Some solid—but not especially brilliant—detective work by Goldacre traces the editing to a user calling himself Clarkeola, who turns out to be an employee of Holford’s public relations firm, Fuel PR.

Clarkeola has been banned under wikipedia’s “meatpuppets” policy, and once again the public relations industry as a whole is made to look sleazy, deceptive and—most worrying of all—completely out of tune with emerging digital media.