Tuesday, November 20, 2007

News-Press Article Tells Only Half the Story

Since I'm late with today's post I guess I should start out by assuring all of you out there who may have been worried (all two of you) that I have arrived safely back in Santa Barbara from New York City.

I got back late last night and was simply too pooped to publish, let alone write anything coherent.

I did get something of a rude awakening when I reported for my morning shift at Good Cup Coffee on the Mesa and read the above the fold headline in Tuesday's News-Press, "News-Press wins ruling against Independent."

Sure enough, the story reported the fact that on Monday, while I was traveling, federal judge Edward Rafeedie ruled in the News-Press' favor on its copyright infringement claim against the Independent.

Since the News-Press wins a court ruling these days about as often as my UCLA Bruins win a football game, I can hardly blame them for tooting their own horn.

What the article didn't tell the reader was that while the News-Press got a favorable ruling on the copyright claim the judge ruled against them on their other claims that the Independent had stolen their trade secrets, had engaged in unfair business competition, and negligently and intentionally interfered with the News-Press' business advantage.

That's a little like reporting that the home team scored two touchdowns in the first quarter without mentioning the fact that the other side scored in each of the remaining three quarters.

The News-Press article had no comments or quotes from anyone representing the Independent although I am informed that the News-Press did make an effort to reach someone at the paper for that purpose. (However, that inquiry came from someone at News-Press TV and not the paper itself.)

As of 1 pm Tuesday neither the Independent or the Daily Sound had anything on their websites about the ruling or, in the case of the Sound, in its print edition either.

Matt Kettmann, senior editor at the Indy told me via e-mail, "No one's had any time to write about it yet. I didn't find out about it until late last night, and wrote a short piece for the printed paper early this morning. Since then, I've been busy doing other daily duties. I am putting together a longer piece as I write this, but still have some interviews to do."

The News-Press article never explained the significance of the ruling, which is that of the several claims the News-Press made against the Independent the only one that is viable is the copyright claim and that while the judge has ruled as a matter of law that the Independent infringed the News-Press' copyright there will still be a jury trial on the question of what amount of money, if any, the Independent will have to pay to the News-Press for the violation.

As the judge in the case stated in open court during the hearing on this matter back at the end of the October, that is the biggest hurdle in the case. From a dollars and cents perspective, what was the damage to the News-Press as a result of the copyright infringement?

You can download and read the judge's complete written decision here. (It's a 26 page PDF document.)

* * *

Thursday is Thanksgiving, and it is also the 44th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

For baby boomers, like myself, and those who are older it always brings to mind the question, “where were you when you heard that Kennedy was shot?”

I was sitting in my third period art class at John Burroughs Junior High School in Los Angeles when the announcement came over the public address system. I was in the seventh grade at the time.

For many of us the “where-were-you-when-you-heard-the-news-question” is one you could always ask whenever a conversation lagged.

One of my favorite lines regarding this topic comes from comedian Billy Crystal who was talking about the difficulty of making conversation with a younger woman he was out on a first date with and attempted to ask her where she was when she heard the news that Kennedy was shot.

Her response; “What! Ted Kennedy was shot!”

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