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Plagiarizing The American President

*Photo courtesy of Australian Television Program "Sunrise"

Anthony Albanese, Australian transport minister, had this to say in an attack against the Liberal Party Opposition Leader Tony Abbot:

"In Australia we have serious challenges to solve and we need serious people to solve them. Unfortunately, Tony Abbott is not the least bit interested in fixing anything. He is only interested in two things: making Australians afraid of it and telling them who’s to blame for it."

Does this sound familiar? Michael Douglas gave a similar speech, written by The Social Network screen writer Aaron Sorkin, in the 1995 film The American President:

"We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who's to blame for it."

According to the The Hollywood Reporter, the films international distributor, Universal Pictures, has not taken any steps to bring action against the Aussie politician... yet. It could be argued by the studios legal team that Albanese was in violation of Australia's Copyright Act of 1968, which assures dramatic works from being reproduced in "substantial part."

"Of course, the speech was hardly a commercial endeavor and it's possible that the appropriation was merely de minimis under Australian law," wrote The Hollywood Reporter. "And it should be noted that the quoted excerpt in Sorkin's screen speech in The American President was preceded by these words: "You want free speech?" asks Douglas rhetorically. "Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs things you would spend your lifetime opposing at the top of yours."

After the news broke that Albanese's speech was not an original work, Albanese took to twitter: "D'oh! Stuff up (for the record, that comes from another great American, Homer Simpson)," he tweeted.

You can view the speeches side by side on YouTube, courtesy of the Australian morning television show Sunrise. Sorry Mr. Albanese, you're no Michael Douglas.

YouTube: Aussie politician caught using lines from The American President in speech

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

"But Mom told me to share!" How Sharing Online Content Can Have Consequences

From an early age, we are taught that we should share with other people.  Whether it is toys or time, we become better people if we share our talents and treasures.  With the proliferation of the internet and online digital technologies, sharing has never been easier; however, it is not with out consequences.

Photographs, stories, videos, and articles are just a sampling of the various types of content out there that many of us put on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz, and MySpace.  But are we free to just post such content? We have free speech to say what we want under the First Amendment, right?

Not so fast. While we are certainly free to post anything that is originally created by us, we can’t place other peoples’ content online without their permission.  For example, if we see an article that we like, we cannot copy it in its entirety and place it in our blog. We also can’t copy it in its entirety and email it to our distribution list.  We need the author or copyright owner’s permission in order to do so (unless the article falls within the parameters of the Fair Use Doctrine, but that's for another post)

So what about those "Share" buttons we see neatly arranged at the beginning or end of an article? So long as we are sharing a link (URL) to a particular article, citing the source of the article, and letting the person(s) to whom you are sharing know where you found the article, you can continue to enjoy spreading the news without worrying about a claim that you are infringing on someone else’s work.

All in all, we can still share online as Mom originally taught us.  We just want to share responsibly, so we can avoid unpleasant consequences under copyright law.

The Holiday's are Here, Let's Boycott Our Email

I read an article on CNN.com called "It's the holidays, so let your work e-mail go" (you can read it HERE). Part of the article discusses a recent study that shows 59% of American adults check their work email during the holidays. I understand how that could happen. Checking my email has almost become a compulsion. This world moves so fast that it's sometimes hard to stay one step ahead. So, we check our email, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, while we walk to our car, wait for lunch dates or ride elevators. But, taking a weekend off from the e-world won't kill us either, especially during a holiday weekend. Be in the moment and celebrate with friends and family. Be apart of that 59% and boycott your email this weekend. And for those of you who don't celebrate Christmas, boycott anyway! Let's be rebellious together. Happy holidays to all!

Bold Move Pepsi

Last sunday, 93.2 million people watched the Colts battle the Saints in the Superbowl. I love watching sporting events where the underdog goes up against a seasoned opponent. Its even better when the underdog comes out on top. But, if I'm completely honest with you, what I really look forward to when watching the Superbowl are the commercials. In between the interceptions, penalties and touchdowns, I watched as commercial after commercial ran. Towards the end of the game, I thought where were all the Pepsi ads? Pepsi’s rival, Coke, ran at least two. The next day while reading my latest tweets, I learned Pepsi’s bold move: Pepsi decided to trade in the big expensive Superbowl ad campaign for a social media campaign that promotes positive change in the world. Thru the end of the year, Pepsi is giving away $20 million in grants to innovative concepts that advocates change in a community. Each month they will accept 1000 applications and award $1.3 million to the top ranked ideas in the following categories: Health, Arts & Culture, Food & Shelter, The Planet, Neighborhoods and Education. Since each application varies in size, so do the grants. The $1.3 million will be broken into 32 grants with 2 Grants at the $250,000 level; 10 Grants at the $50,000 level; 10 Grants at the $25,000 level; and 10 Grants at the $5,000 level. Who can apply? Any US resident over the age of 13. Yes, you read that right. I checked my facts. Applicants can range from non-profits to the individual. All you need is an idea and the passion to make a difference in the world. And guess who votes on the best idea? You do! Go to refresheverything.com to submit your idea and to vote on ideas you feel worthy of a grant. And, of course, spread the word via facebook, twitter, or thru your blog. Props to you Pepsi, way to pay it forward.

Why Jury Duty Gets a Bad Rap

Their sits a man, a man in his early seventies with a balding grey head. In his striped collared shirt and his blue jeans he dawns head phones and an iPod as he rocks out to, what sounds like, country music. With all distracting sounds isolated, the man can focus on his crossword puzzle. “16 Down...” he mutters, “Ovation...”. Apparently, today’s crossword puzzle is oral. Too bad he is not reading the entire puzzle out loud, this could have been a fun group activity. I sit in my corner of the “L” shaped air conditioned trailer and wait; wait for my name to be called, wait to go to lunch, wait for something, wait, wait, wait. I’m at Jury Duty. The Jury Room clerk announces that the only people who will be excused from duty are the ones who produce their own death certificate. I guess I’m not going anywhere soon.

I continue to sit patiently in the grey, unexpectedly, thick padded chair, with my laptop open, catching up on emails and watching my tweets. Apple has just commenced one of their big events where they unveiling new products. Just a few minutes into Apple’s presentation, Twitter became overwhelmed and inactive, overloaded with Apple lovers’ excitement to spread the word of Job. That’s Steve Job. Taking a break from my computer screen while Twitter regrouped, I took in my fellow jurors who sat in our corner of the “L” shaped trailer.

A lot of reading was happening: books, newspapers and magazines. The business men and women, most whom attempted, and with little success (since they still have a pulse), to get out of their day of civic duty, tap away at their keyboards, flip through papers and cross reference information on their iPhones or Blackberrys. The man sitting in front of me is an attorney who is still not sure why legal professionals should be summoned. The man sitting next to him is a commercial airline pilot who just came back last night from piloting an LAX to JFK turn around trip. His name was called, not for jury duty, but because he accidentally left his car in neutral and it rolled out into the street. His subconscious was telling the world, or at least the Court House parking lot, that he didn’t really want to be here. And finally, the man sitting at the table: his beast of a laptop is probably three inches thick when closed. I deduced that he is a high school football coach by the copious notes he takes while watching a game on his laptop. Here we are, your jury selection for the day. All of us anxious to be excused, fearful of hearing our name called out. At least we get to go to lunch early.

Once back from lunch, a trial is in need of a jury. One by one, names are called and people rise from their chair, leave the trailer and head to the fifth floor. One woman’s name was called and her response was: “Ah Dang!”. Why is it that people look at Jury Duty as an unwanted responsibility? Today’s excuse is that people can’t afford to loose a day or more of work. It’s true, but what about when the economy was thriving? Why is it that Jury Duty has always had a stigma around it? I guess in our busy, ever quickening world, who has time for civic duty?