– Mark E. Smith

Graham Silnicki’s piece in the Ryerson Review of Journalism online on the topic of the use of blogs in city news reporting reads like the student publication it is, if only because he lets too many people off the hook.

Let’s start with the biggest issue: The fact that the National Post committed criminal copyright infringement against Shawn Micallef and the Spacing blog.

After Micallef and Spacing publisher Matthew Blackett cry foul, the Post prints an apology on A2 and pays Micallef $200 (which, he says, includes an extra $50 for “pain and suffering”).

“We all chalked it up to experience,” says Rob Roberts, the Post’s Toronto editor, who admits he originally had no intention of paying Micallef for the piece. “Blogs are always linking to each other. I saw this as an extension of that. I recognize now, in retrospect, I don’t think I should’ve seen it that way.”

Where to begin?

  • Micallef, the Spacer It’s OK to Like™, acted like that poor guy Dick Cheney shot in the face. He acted as though it were his fault and he should apologize. Micallef was wronged by a multi-million-dollar corporation, and the Tubby’s actual liabilities at trial would have started in the hundreds of thousands because of the number of illegal copies circulated. Two hundred bucks? Give me a fucking break. That is not a fair settlement. It amounts to adding injury to injury.
  • Did Micallef settle for peanuts because he doesn’t understand copyright law, doesn’t have a lawyer (he could have used mine), didn’t understand the seriousness of the injury against him, denied such seriousness, or just wanted to put the whole thing behind him? I know it’s always presumptuous to tell people how to live their lives, particularly during a crisis, but presumptuousness is the least of my worries here. Micallef was wrong to settle for next to nothing and he should have sued the pants off the fuckers. Doesn’t he understand that other freelance writers, like me, have spent a decade trying to counter newspapers’ organized copyright infringement? Or how much we’ve suffered along the way? (We did win an eventual partial victory last summer.)
  • Rob Roberts (no relation) must have been lying to the reporter when he claimed that reproducing, editing, and rewriting an article without explicit permission amounts to mere “linking,” that is, the embedding of a hypertext address so a device can fetch the document at that address. I don’t see any other possibility. He can’t be so stupid or ignorant that he actually believes the statement he made.


“There’s this kind of David and Goliath feeling,” [Micallef] admits. “None of us are paid, or are paid a pittance. We dedicate a lot of time to this stuff and it gets sucked up into the major media by reporters who are paid and have benefits and all that stuff.”

Then why did you roll over? If you’re that tired of peanuts, sue for bullion.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2006.12.31 14:24. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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