Time for Liberals to Stand Up For Themselves

For far too long patriotic American liberals have been turning the other cheek while conservative assholes beat the crap out of them. The latest example: the same scum who brought us the Swift Boat ads about John Kerry are trying to defeat the powerful AARP by calling them proponents of gay marriage and opponents of support for our troops in combat. Now, I never thought I’d find myself agreeing with the AARP on anything. But they’re right to oppose Bush’s plan to dismantle Social Security; the more I hear the details, the more outrageous it sounds. Of course the AARP, being a lobbying organization for senior citizens, doesn’t have any opinion about gay marriage, either pro or con. But that doesn’t stop the connies, and the ads still run. Meanwhile, mainstream Democrats write polite letters to the editor.

Which brings me to David Horowitz.

Readers of the Rallblog already know that this GOP-approved loon has targeted everyone from Barbra Streisand to Dan Rather as “left” and listed alongside the 9/11 hijackers and other Islamist extremists in a sordid attempt to infer a relationship between the two groups of people. You can find this online delicacy, which obviously took some work, at Discover the Network.

The very notion of this website, which reads a lot like those anti-abortion websites that listed abortion doctors whom the groups wanted to see assassinated, ought to be illegal. But the Supreme Court ruled about those sites a few years back, and found them covered by the First Amendment. The other thing that ought to be illegal is Horowitz’s stupidity. I mean, the dude lists the personalities on the first page in alphabetical order…by first name. And he lists Sean Penn, one of the world’s most photographed movie stars, with a blurry photo. Surely even a neocon torture supporter like Horowitz ought to be able to find a better picture than that.

The problem is, he’s unwilling to pay for his photos. So, in a patent violation of U.S. Copyright law, he swipes them from copyrighted sources…like other people’s website. Like mine–the photo under my listing was paid for at significant expense, and copyrighted. Horowitz neither requested, nor would have received, permission to reproduce my photo.

It so happens that I take intellectual property rights seriously. Without them, after all, I wouldn’t make a living. So I’ve fired off the following “cease and desist” letter to David Horowitz, owner of Discover the Network:

To: david@cspc.org
Sent: Wednesday, February 23, 2005 7:44 PM
Subject: URGENT: Cease and Desist Notice
Dear Mr. Horowitz:
 It has come to my attention that you have, without obtaining written or other permission, posted a publicity photograph of myself, apparently copied from my website, to your site Discover the Network (http://www.discoverthenetwork.org). This photograph is copyrighted material. Your act violates U.S. Copyright Law, which provides for damages up to $150,000 plus attorney’s fees.
I therefore request that you take the following actions on or before 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Friday, February 25, 2005:
1. Remove said photograph from your website.
2. Agree to remit the sum of $5,000.00 as payment for your unauthorized use of said photograph, with such payment via money order to be received within three (3) business days at my address in New York, New York.
3. Sign a notarized stipulation agreeing not to post my copyrighted material in the future.
 Thank you for your prompt attention to this urgent matter.
Ted Rall

From Bush and Alberto Gonzeles down to the Abu Ghraib prison guards, the Republican right thumbs its collective noses at the law. Fortunately, Section 504 of U.S. Copyright Law provides for legal remedies against those who steal copyrighted material without permission. The hundreds of other liberals listed at DTN may be content to allow their copyrighted photos to appear on Horowitz’s blacklist, but not me. I’m not putting up with this shit.

Horowitz’s attorney replied as follows (at 2 AM West Coast/5 AM East Coast time…now that’s dedication!):

From: Manuel Klausner
Date: February 24, 2005 2:06:57 AM PST
To: Tedrall@aol.com
Subject: Re: URGENT: Cease and Desist Notice
Dear Mr. Rall,
I represent David Horowitz, and am writing to respond to your email below. I am informed that the “publicity photograph” was not copied from your website, contrary to your surmise. It appears to be in the public domain. If you dispute this, please promptly furnish me with a copy of your copyright registration.
Even if the photo is copyrighted, its use in FrontPageMagazine.com appears to qualify as a fair use. The nature and purpose of the use is news reporting and commentary in an Internet publication for nonprofit educational purposes. The very nature of a “publicity photo” suggests that it is ordinarily intended to be used without obtaining permission in advance. Moreover, it does not appear that the effect of the use would be to decrease the value of the photo, which appears to have been widely circulated in many sources. Accordingly, we believe a court would find this use of the photo to be “fair” under Section 107 of the Copyright Law.
Based on the foregoing reasons, your three requests are hereby rejected. We would be willing to consider any further information you care to provide, including a copy of any copyright registration.
Manuel S. Klausner

I don’t know if or where Manuel Klausner went to law school, but I like to rely on the ever-useful Glamour Models website for legal advice. And Glamour Models (well, actually, an attorney who wrote a piece they posted for fashion photographers) has some interesting advice for Horowitz and other intellectual property thieves.

My photo is certainly NOT in the public domain, and I have vigorously defended its copyright in the past. And Glamour Models has this to say about the silly “Fair Use” argument:

“Fair use” is a legal “defense” to copyright. It was created to allow use of copyright material for socially valuable purposes such as commentary, parody, news reporting, education and the like, without permission of the copyright holder. A typical instance would be a brief quotation from a book as part of a book review. Uses allowed by “Fair Use” are normally a small part of a work and include an author credit and attribution. Fair uses are generally for non-profit purposes. Fair use is rarely allowed where the use competes directly with the work or harms its commercial value. Most fair use situations involve text. It is difficult to imagine any situation involving the Internet where someone copying a photo could claim the fair use defense. In typical infringement activities, such as unauthorized posting to Usenet, stocking websites from Usenet trolling, scanning from Playboy magazine, or simply copying from other websites-the fair use doctrine does not apply.

Hmm. Doesn’t look good for David. Oh, and am I going to provide a copy of my copyright registration to this jerk? Hell, no, because whether or not I have one I still own that copyright as I own the copyright to the contents of my entire website. But he’s welcome to find out, in court, whether or not I have one. One thing he should know, however, is that I don’t bluff.

Horowitz’s Right Wingnuts

Ever since Horowitz wrote about this loverly little exchange on his anti-American hate site FrontPageMagazine.com, I’ve had the joy of hearing from his readers. Here’s a sample of the people who voted for George W. Bush and support the war in Iraq:

From mother@telefonica.net:

So you defend terrorists but you want the protection of the law? PIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGGGGGGGGGGGG!

Evidently this wanker equates standing against torture and preemptive wars based on lies with defending terrorists. What about Bush, who increased the terrorists’ funding (foreign aid to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan) after 9/11? Isn’t that defending terrorists?

From p.leddy@comcast.net:

Whatsa matter , you afraid someone’s gonna take a run at you, you liberal fuck? Oh and tell pseudo-indian ward to fuck HIMSELF also. This is war, asshole. If you did refer to Tillman as an idiot, I’ll piss on your momma’s grave if she’s dead. If she ain’t, I’ll wait till that happens. Kiss my ass. Ain’t the first amendment grand?!

From cramerb@dyc.edu:

Mr. Rall: I find it interesting that you are offended by such an innocuous photo. I don’t suppose it ever occurred to you to think about the millions of people you offend with your repugnant bile. Bruce Cramer, Buffalo, NY

I am not offended by my photo, although it would be nicer if my image looked more like Keanu Reeves’. I am offended, as it were, by the flagrant violation of my copyright. My “repugnant bile”, on the other hand, is protected by the First Amendment. Why is the law such a difficult concept for the right to understand?

From tonyb@hvc.rr.com:

Typical liberal response to seeing your picture posted on Discover The Network. I just loved how David’s lawyer put it to your ass. Be a man and suck it up and take some of what you dish out. Don’t be a ‘girlie man”!! If you stand for nothing you will fall for anything. Tony Bonagura

I have a rule righties might find interesting. When someone I like accidentally does something to harm me, I suck it up. When someone who hates me sets out to attack me by breaking the law, I fight back. But obviously Tony supports Bush, who decided after 9/11 that he was too much of a girlie man to go after the terrorists because he was afraid of them. So instead he attacked too uninvolved, unrelated, but defenseless countries. Typical right-wingers.

From jrdott@pacbell.net:

I didn’t know the truth about you until I read your profile on David Horowitz’ excellent new website! I have email contacts all over California and I’ve sent Mr. Horowitz’ profile on to my address book—I believe it’s critical that people like you are exposed for who you are. I was surprised to see your email to Mr. Horowitz regarding the use of your photograph! As a cartoonist and a person with [supposedly] a sense of humor, I thought at first that your email was a spoof…..perhaps…..a cartoon in words, so to speak? I mean, were you serious??? HA! David Wilson

If and when a joke has been made, I’ll let you know.

And from the next Sartre, jmarks@comcast.net:

Great pic. Always wanted to see what an asshole looks like. The idiot who studifies people with an cartoon that doesn’t even makes sense. This seems to reflect on your left political leanings as well. So your the asshole that believes the Bush Adminstration is wrong for freeing people from tyranny. Tell that to the people and the victims families who have experienced death, rape and murder at the hands of Islamic jihadists and Saddam Hussein and his idiot sons. It is people like you that don’t give a flying fuck about anyone else other than your selfish needs. It is people like that go around thinking that your shit doesn’t stink, whereas the opposite is true. Salute to the ASSHOLE!

“Studifies”? Is that some gay sex thing?

Fortunately, there are people who “get it” out there…unfortunately, they’re almost all Democrats:

From Norman:

I congratulate you on your decision to fight back against the character assination from FPM, Horowitz and his new web toy. I would also suggest that your fellow reporters figure out how Horowitz got
a dot ORG web site. They are for charitable and church organizations not for Political hacks. By the way Horowitz’s lawyers answer in response to your e mail holds no water. This idea that a photo is public domain is crap. If it is am image of you you control where and when that image is used that is black letter law

That’s sure the way the law reads.

Geneva Conventions Follow-Up

An excellent email from Russell:

The argument over uniforms, et al, applies only to the rights of prisoners of war under the 3rd Geneva Convention. I’d agree with Andy that the 3rd does not apply to the insurgents. However, the 4th Geneva Convention, which everyone seems to forget about, would guarantee basic human rights protections to any insurgent who was an Iraqi citizen (it would not apply to foreign fighters). Even if they commit acts against the “Occupying Power”, they are entitled to the due process of law and to the protection of their basic dignity.
I quote a small part of the 4th convention below. Later sections are much more detailed.

Art. 3. In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:
(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.
To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
(b) taking of hostages;
(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;
(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
(2) The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.
Art. 4. Persons protected by the Convention are those who, at a given moment and in any manner whatsoever, find themselves, in case of a conflict or occupation, in the hands of a Party to the conflict or Occupying Power of which they are not nationals.
Nationals of a State which is not bound by the Convention are not protected by it. Nationals of a neutral State who find themselves in the territory of a belligerent State, and nationals of a co-belligerent State, shall not be regarded as protected persons while the State of which they are nationals has normal diplomatic representation in the State in whose hands they are.

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