Help from Hollywood: Defending Your Intellectual Property Rights

Published on
September 24, 2010

Social media, blogs and instantaneous online distribution has revolutionized news. The reach of social media is comparable to mainstream media -- in the billions -- "but that's where the similarities end," said attorney Wendy Heimann-Nunes, who moderated an event in Hollywood today about intellectual property, part of the multi-city virtual conference Social Media Week. On the Internet, content can be moved and shared and copied with ease.

The panel discussion was geared toward social media entrepreneurs and the entertainment industry, but brought up issues applicable to journalists and bloggers as well. This week on Career GPS, I'm taking advice from Hollywood about protecting content on the Internet. Job opportunities are at the end of the post. Keep up with Career GPS by signing up for weekly newsletters or via RSS.

Aaron Crayford, CEO and founder of, an online video distribution company, said that he intentionally aims for controversy with new startups. "As a start-up, you have to pick racy topics, and you have to be different," Crayford said. He respects intellectual property rights and the work of lawyers, but says that the reality is that startups that succeed take risks to do so.

So it's not surprising that soon after Rippol's launch in 2009, it was asked to take down content from video site Hulu, raising questions about what makes good business sense when protecting intellectual property. Though Hulu freely offers the code to embed its videos on other sites, its terms are that the content can only be embedded for non-commercial use. Crayford said he was able to turn Hulu's objections into publicity for his site.

While Hulu's case is complicated because it involves contractual agreements with its content providers in television, the dispute with Rippol raised an important question for anyone who creates content: When is it worth it to try to get a website to take down your content?

Josh Lawler, attorney at Zuber & Taillieu LLC, said that there is a difference between protecting your work and getting in the way of the purpose of your work. You want people to see your work, but it is your right to ask for a licensing agreement, credit, or for sites to take down the copied content. (If you are trying to get your content off of someone else's site, Lorelle on Wordpress offers a simple guide.)

But "if it's not really getting looked at, you're kind of wasting your time," said Eric Galen, also an attorney at Zuber & Taillieu and founder of It is not always worth the effort of contacting the site owner with a letter if the copyright violation is made one time by a site that does not get many viewers or make money.

This is a constantly evolving story, but one thing to watch are legislative attempts to curb online infringements. Earlier this week, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced a bill meant to combat websites that infringe on copyrights. The bill is predictably popular in Hollywood, but the Electronic Frontier Foundation is calling the legislation an attack on free speech because it seeks to block domains without due process.

Here are this week's opportunities.

Jobs, Fellowships and Grants

Associate Producer, Digital Health/Science (NPR)
Location: Washington, D.C.
Status: Full Time
Medium: Radio/Online

Information/Publications Services, Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the University of Florida
Location: Gainesville, Florida
Status: Full Time
Medium: Communications

Medical Communication Scientist, Bristol-Myers Squibb (via
Location: Princeton, New Jersey
Status: Full Time
Medium: Technical

News Editor, Modern Healthcare
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Status: Full Time
Medium: Weekly Trade

Reporter, Modern Healthcare
Location: Washington, D.C.
Status: Full Time
Medium: Weekly Trade

Watchdog Fund, Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
Eligibility: Journalists with project proposals to investigate "international, state and local issues affecting Florida and its communities"
Award: Up to $2500 to complete project, distribution and translation
Deadline: Sept. 30, 2010
From the Website: "The FCIR Watchdog Fund is particularly interested in funding projects dealing with government corruption, waste and inefficiency; immigration; education; and social justice."

REMINDER: Medical Evidence Bootcamp, Knight Science Journalism Fellowships at MIT
Eligibility: Reporters, writers, editors or producers from any country with at least three years of full-time experience in journalism
Award: Up to $750 of travel expenses, accommodation, and most meals to attend program from Dec. 7–10, 2010
Deadline: Oct. 4, 2010
From the Website: "One of the most difficult challenges facing journalists is the uncertainty of evidence in science, medicine, energy and environmental studies. Studies are hard to decipher, and sometimes appear to reach contradictory conclusions. But the public's interest in health and science news, and the need for reliable information, is growing. To help journalists make sense of all this, we offer an intensive course, on how to evaluate scientific and medical evidence."

REMINDER: U.S. Young Journalist Program, Fulbright Kommission
Eligibility: Must be a U.S. citizen, with academic achievement and a good proposal and good to very good German language skills
Award: 10 month stay in Germany with stipends and expenses, as well as language training
Deadline: Oct. 18, 2010
From the Website: "The approximately 10-month stay begins in September and typically consists of an initial research phase, during which the grantee becomes familiar with his/her project in a German setting, followed by one or more internships with German institutions of print or broadcast media."

REMINDER: Association of Health Care Journalists - Centers for Disease Control Health Journalism Fellowships
Eligibility: Professional journalists working in the United States
Award: Week of study of public health topics at CDC campuses, membership, travel, lodging and meals
Deadline: Oct. 22
From the Website: "The AHCJ-CDC Health Journalism Fellows will: Attend sessions on epidemiology, global disease prevention efforts, pandemic flu preparedness, climate change, vaccine safety, obesity, autism and more; tour the CDC director's National Emergency Operations Center; meet new sources on policy and research; learn how to tap the agency's abundant resources to produce better stories."

REMINDER: Philip Meyer Journalism Award
Eligibility: Work published between Oct. 1, 2009 and Sept. 30, 2010 reported using social science research methods, entry fee $25-$115
Award: Cash prizes of $200-$500
Deadline: Nov. 1, 2010
From the Website: "The awards are in honor of Philip Meyer, professor emeritus and former Knight Chair of Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Meyer is the author of Precision Journalism, the seminal 1972 book (and subsequent editions) that focused growing numbers of journalists on the idea of using social science methods to do better journalism. He pioneered in using survey research as a reporter for Knight Ridder newspapers to explore the causes of race riots in the 1960s."

REMINDER: Interactive Census Workshop (Dec 12-17, 2010)
Eligibility: Journalists with interest in multimedia
Included: Lodging and meals at UC Berkeley, but not travel
Deadline: Nov. 6, 2010
From the Website: "The KDMC at UC Berkeley is offering a customized visual storytelling workshop to train journalists on new ways to process data from the 2010 Census. Fellows will illustrate the information using visualization and mapping tools to create a clearer, more meaningful picture of the complex statistics gathered in the national survey."