Dan Gillmor's blog

The Unspoken Peril for "Citizen Journalists" Surprise! You Owe the IRS Some Gift Tax!

StinkyJournalism.org: The Unspoken Peril for "Citizen Journalists" Surprise! You Owe the IRS Some Gift Tax!

Is the “donation” of a citizen’s content (video, articles, commentaries, images) to for-profit media outlets that exceeds a fair market value of $12,000 in any single year subject to gift tax? Judging from the IRS guidelines, the answer is “yes.”

This is a surprise, and an unwelcome one.

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Authors: Government Censorship Better than Corporate

LA Observed has a post about how KRON TV in San Francisco disinvited the authors of a new book from a talk-show appearance after discovering that the book, No Time to Think: The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle, takes shots at the crappy state of local TV news. My initial reaction was incredulity. I mean, how clueless is that kind of move?

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GateHouse v NY Times Co.: Not So Simple After All

One of the most intriguing current media legal cases pits GateHouse Media, which owns a pile of newspapers in New England (and elsewhere) against the New York Times Co., owner of the Boston Globe and Boston.com. I’ve been looking at this from both sides’ perspectives, and this is not as simple as it looks on first glance.

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Copyright Challenge in New Push for Open Government Data

Carl Malamud, a hero in providing access to information, has posted online the 38-volume California Code of Regulations, over which the state claims copyright ownership. He's been doing things like this for a while, but the California code is a big deal in every respect.

The Santa Rosa (Calif.) Press Democrat has the story.

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Ban 'Hate Speech' at Your Own Peril

Glenn Greenwald accurately explains the grotesque result of laws that seek to curb that amorphous problem of “hate speech” — a concept that turns free speech on its head. And unlike many of his colleagues on the political left, Greenwald explains why he’s defending people whose speech frequently deserves contempt:

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Town of Manalapan, New Jersey, Versus Free Speech

Follow the links from Electronic Frontier Foundation page on the bizarre Manalapan v. Moskovitz lawsuit to see a local government running wild against free speech. The town is suing to get the identity of -- and all kinds of other information about -- a critical anonymous blogger.

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Fox News Upbraided for Anti Fair Use Stance in Political Video

Talking Points Memo: Right-Wing Bloggers Launch Campaign -- With MoveOn! -- Against Fox News Over Debate Footage. A coalition of right-wing bloggers and MoveOn that helped force several networks to allow public use of their political debate footage last spring has just launched a similar campaign against Fox News.

Good for all of them. Fox News' position is untenable from almost any point of reference.

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It's Your Stuff? Maybe Not

John Dvorak: Google Pulls Plug, Everyone Misses Point. The scary part is that we are not talking about some flaky, small underfunded company. We're talking about Google, a behemoth. This tells me that if Google can throw in the towel and abandon one of its online-related services, then anyone can do it—and they will. And then they'll all point to Google. "Well, if Google can do it after it made promises, then we can do it." It can happen anywhere. You have all your family photos online? Good luck with that. Your blogging software and blog are all online? Have a nice day. Your business is completely reliant on online systems? How does your insurance policy look?
The case here is about customers' ability to use a service they purchased. Google is reneging on its promise. But the bigger issue is in the latter part of this quote -- whether the photos, text, videos, financial information and other things you put online are yours, or whether they end up belonging, in practice if not principle, to the company you use to store and/or display them. For citizen media creators contributing their work to a variety of sites, this is not a trivial issue. The portability of data is one of the absolutely crucial problems in a world of online-everything. You cannot absolutely depend on online vendors to protect your information, despite their best intentions (and most of them have very good intentions). If you can't download your data to your own computer, in a form that lets you use it elsewhere with not too much hassle, then you should be clear: It's not really your data after all. Should there be a law about this? I suspect, in the end, we may need one.

Is It Permissible to Say that New Zealand's Parliament is Filled with Idiots?

Press Gazette (UK): MPs outlaw satire in New Zealand. New Zealand's Parliament has voted itself far-reaching powers to control satire and ridicule of MPs in Parliament, attracting a storm of media and academic criticism.

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A Reminder of Free Speech's Value

BBC: Malaysia cracks down on bloggers. The Malaysian government has warned it could use tough anti-terrorism laws against bloggers who insult Islam or the country's king.
I remember visiting Malaysia in late 2001, and being assured by people in business and government that the Internet was going to truly remain a free-speech zone (unlike the highly regulated traditional media).

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