Thursday, December 13, 2007

acidic spouses and fair use

It was a tough decision, but I finally found a winner: Here is the Spouse of the Week! We long suspected she would win, but we needed to wait until this headline was published: Wife Convicted in Husband's Acid Murder. YES!!!

Let’s peek inside …

Now-widowed Larissa and now-dead Tim owned a chemical lab. They had an assistant, James “The Gullible One in Apparent Need of Money” Fagone. The year was 2003. Larissa, or “Iss” as she was called by her friends, and Timmy were in the midst of a nasty divorce. A double shot – divorcing your spouse and business partner! Talk about your social, economic, and spiritual life going down the shitter in one fell swoop.

Having done my fair share of divorces – both as an attorney and a spouse – I understand thoroughly the financial implications of death when it occurs on either side of the court decree. Seems Iss understood, too.

Here’s how it went down …

Iss: Hey, Jimmy, I got a business proposition for you.
Jimmy: Yeah?
Iss: See that guy over there?
Jimmy: Tim? Your husband?
Iss: Yeah.
Jimmy: Yeah, I see him. He’s, like, the only other person here.
Iss: Exactly.
Jimmy: Hunh?
Iss: You’re not getting it. Focus with me.
Jimmy: I’m trying.
Iss: See that 55 gallon drum over there?
Jimmy: Uh, yeah.
Iss: See this stun gun?
Jimmy: The one in your hand?
Iss: Yes, Jimmy, the one in my hand.
Jimmy: Uh, yeah, I see it.
Iss: Guy, stun gun, barrel.
Jimmy: Guy, stun gun, barrel.
Iss: Exactly.
Jimmy: Exactly what?
Iss: You’re an idiot, Jimmy.
Jimmy: You say that a lot.
Iss: You prove that a lot.
Jimmy: I’m sorry. You gonna hit me again?
Iss: No. Jimmy. I want to give you $2,000.
Jimmy: OK. Do I have to have sex with your pets again while you tape it?
Iss: No, Jimmy.
Jimmy: OK.
Iss: You ready?
Jimmy: Ready for what?
Iss: Guy, stun g-- …
Jimmy: … -un, barrel.
Iss: Exactly.
Jimmy: Exactly what?
Iss: Oh, my f---king lord you are stupid.
Jimmy: You shouldn’t talk about God that way.
Iss: Jimmy, focus with me.
Jimmy: OK.
Iss: I want you to walk over to Tim, use this stun gun on him, then I’ll use chloroform on him, and then you put him in the barrel. Upsidedown.
Jimmy: Why would I do that?
Iss: $2,000.
Jimmy: OK.
Iss: Go ahead and do it now.
Jimmy: OK.
Iss: Hey, Jimmy. You need the stun gun.
Jimmy: OK.

Jimmy: Hi, Tim!
Tim: Hi, Jimmy, what can I d--- ZAP! ARGGgghhh …
Jimmy: Sorry, Tim.

Iss: OK, Jimmy, pick him up.
Jimmy: OK. Upsidedown, right?
Iss: Yes, Jimmy.
Jimmy: OK. Thump! Do I get my $2,000 now?
Iss: In a minute. We aren’t done yet.
Jimmy: That’s that acid stuff, Iss.
Iss: Yes, it is, Jimmy.
Jimmy: Whacha gonna do with it? We got another experiment to do?
Iss: Something like that. Get his feet out of the way.
Jimmy: OK.
Iss: I’m just going pour this hydrochloric acid in here with Tim, and we’re going to time it and see how long it takes for him to dissolve.
Jimmy: OK.

Poor Jimmy was convicted in December 2006 of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Looks like Iss will get the same.

You just have to love a spouse that refuses to out quietly. I think the dissolving-in-acid was a nice touch.

We aren’t done yet. This notice appeared with the article: “Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.”

That seemed broad enough to piss me off. “Fair Use” came to mind. “Screw you, AP” also flashed by.

Let’s go to a rather reliable source for such issues, the U.S. Copyright Office. US Code 17 Section 107 lists four considerations for fair use:

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.

Is my work commercial? No. I generate no income from this blog. The ads to the right are de minimus and if measureable, the amount attributable to this post is 1 divided by infinity, so zero.

The alleged copyrighted work was publicly distributed. I found it on the open internet. That does not defeat the alleged copyright, but it does put into perspective the nature of the work – it is intended to be read by the general public.

How much of their work did I use? A very small percentage. In fact, many other sources are available both subject to copyright and not (court docs). I, um, I read at least 25 different sources, filling my head with each, before I composed the vignette above. I merely chose to link to AP because I detest them and believe they need the business.

Do I affect their value? Oh no, they trashed that a long, long time ago. Have I touched their potential market? Yes. I increased it by linking to them.

A little more for the USCO: “The 1961 Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law cites examples of activities that courts have regarded as fair use: ‘quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author's observations; use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report …’” Yeah, that’s me, particularly the I’m-your-clown part.

AP pisses me off. Stick your pseudo-broad copyright claims.

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