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Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Garrison Keillor Sues MNSpeak.com

I just found out that Garrison Keillor is suing, or threatening to sue MNSpeak.com. The blogsphere is ranting the headline that our handy mnspeak.com blogger threatened, one I won't repeat here for fear it will add to the Google count.

This actually infuriates me. And not because of Keillor. Insteand, because suddenly this bastion of liberal politics, humor, good sense, and a spokesman for liberalism to the mainstream of middle America, is getting attacked because he is executing his power under the law.

It seems to me that the blogsphere, as great as it can be, also has some expectation that it is beyond or above libel or copyright law. I'm not particularly familiar with what can be deemed satire, etc...but the "Praire Ho Companion" t-shirt, especially if it is being sold, is undoubtedly making money off of someone else's established work. And in a way that he deems inappropriate. And instead of saying "Ok, crossed that line..." this blogger has decided to call Keillor out.

This is embarrassing. I remember the first time I heard a friend defend P2P file sharing of MP3s and neither of us could define exactly why it wasn't taking money out of the hands of bands we loved. But if you tell that to someone that does it, they treat you like a Republican.

Frankly, there is nothing about being a liberal that means you don't believe in intellectual property, the rights of an artist to control his material, or the simple right to be respected if your views don't jive with the person making money off your name. This isn't a question of Keillor vs. Bloggers. It's a question of what's legal. And since none of us know exactly what's legal or illegal about what our mnspeak.com gent did... let's back off.

I'd also like to add...his response to Keillor was a threat that will be karmically bad. The idea that you shouldn't mess with a blogger or he'll simply smear your name... it's a dangerous line of thinking. I'm not saying Keillor is being "cool." I'm saying he's within his rights, and smearing him because you don't like what he's up to, or because you weren't smart enough to know the limits of intellectual property infringement; that makes you no better than the Republicans. It means: "I have a bullhorn, don't mess with me."

Since when is the Blogsphere supposed to be used as a threat? It's where we spread ideas. If we're willing to smear a man who is among our best representatives in the red states, over a T-Shirt, we really are missing the point.

Shame on the Daily Kos for making it worse, by the way. Never like to say that, because I love them over them. But that's a big miscue.

1 comment:

David D. said...

Amen. MNSpeak tries to criticize Keillor defending his intellectual property by asking "In an age of much bigger problems, is this really worth fighting for?"
Well, they should ask themself that question-- Should picking a fight with one of the only liberal media figures who has some cross-the-aisle appeal over some stupid t-shirts on your website really what you want to be spending time blogging about? It feels like MNspeak trying to generate some traffic to their site by making an easy target out of Keillor, but that blame-the-liberals-for-not-being-radical-enough thinking is what divided us and lost us the last election. And, well, is pretty lame. Especially in such an age of 'much bigger problems'.
Also, the MNSspeak bloggers ageist comments about Keillor are petty and juvenile. It only serves to remind us which side has built a body of work and entertainment over decades... you know, all that hard work and fund raising that actually generates intelluctual property worth protecting. I mean... do we expect that someday there will be a 30th Anniversary of MNSpeak to celebrate?