It all started last week, when online gossip-monger Gawker published images of 21 pages from Sarah Palin's latest book, “America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag.” For bad measure, they added the book’s dedication page.
The next day Palin posted the following on her Twitter page: “The publishing world is Leaking out-of-context excerpts of my book w/out my permission? Isn't that illegal?”
Gawker refused to take down the excerpt, despite having received a letter demanding that action. Instead the site posted a taunt with the title “Sarah Palin is Mad at Us for Leaking Pages From Her Book.”
The post instructed Palin to read pages on fair use as it pertains to copyright law, adding that she might “skip the totally boring reading and call one of your lawyers.”
“They'll walk you through it,” Gawker sneered.
The site posted links to Web sites defining the fair use doctrine. But because Sarah’s publisher, HarperCollins, did call its lawyers, a federal judge is now teaching Gawker a little something about the law.
Last Friday, HarperCollins filed a lawsuit in a New York federal court. On Saturday, a judge ordered the Web site to take down the pages and also to quit “continuing to distribute, publish or otherwise transmit pages from the book,” at least until the matter can be heard on Nov. 30.
Consequently, the Gawker story has vanished from the site. HarperCollins has asked for monetary damages to be determined. Gawker must also give the material it used to the publisher so it can be destroyed.
In other Palin-related news, the blogosphere has been full of conspiracy theories related to the dancing success of Bristol Palin, daughter of the former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate. Bristol is appearing this season on ABC’s mega-hit, “Dancing with the Stars.”
Conspiracy theories were fueled when, among other things, MSNBC news anchor Contessa Brewer suggested that tea partyers were jamming up the phone lines of other contestants.
Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel referred to the show’s most recently eliminated contestant, Brandy, as a victim of “Hurricane Bristol.”
Unexpected eliminations and late-night ribbing aside, some strange things have been happening this season.
For instance, a rural Wisconsin man, who apparently was enraged by Bristol’s “Dancing with the Stars” routine, blasted his television with a shotgun, which ultimately led to an all-night standoff with a SWAT team. Sixty-seven-year-old Steven Cowan was arrested the following Tuesday morning after officers coaxed him out of his home. He has since been charged with second-degree reckless endangerment, and his bail has been set at $1,500.
According to court documents, Cowan was watching “Dancing with the Stars” and when Palin began her dance routine, he jumped up and started swearing. He then allegedly left the living room, reappeared 20 minutes later with his shotgun and blew out the TV. Next, he purportedly pointed the gun at his wife, told her to go and get his pistols and threatened to kill himself if she brought anyone back with her.
In another peculiar turn of events, a mysterious white powder was discovered in the mailroom of the “Dancing with the Stars” studio late last Friday.
CBS Television City, the place where the ABC reality competition is videotaped, had to be evacuated.
According to ABC, an envelope containing an unknown substance was delivered to the show’s production office during the evening hours. ABC was later advised by the Los Angeles Fire Department that the substance was talcum powder. According to TMZ, the envelope was addressed to Bristol.
The FBI has indicated that it is investigating the matter.
James Hirsen, J.D., M.A. in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, commentator, media analyst and law professor. He is admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court and has made several appearances there on various landmark decisions. Hirsen is the co-founder and chief legal counsel for InternationalEsq.com. Visit: Newsmax TV Hollywood: www.youtube.com/user/NMHollywood
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