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Dear Bill O'Reilly: You Don't Scare Us

Reported by Ellen - March 4, 2005 -

Is Bill O'Reilly, "the pope of TV journalism" who "has caused the powerful in America to duck for cover," as FOX News describes him, afraid of seven average citizens with a website? How else to explain the vicious attempts of his syndicators to intimidate us into removing a perfectly legal link to one of his newspaper columns?

As reported by Melanie yesterday, Creators Syndicate, the company that syndicates O'Reilly's newspaper columns, sent our webmaster, Jim Gilliam and us a letter threatening legal action over Marie Therese's inadvertent reproduction of one of O'Reilly's columns. As her post now acknowledges, Marie Therese immediately removed the column and provided a link instead. But in a move reminiscent of O'Reilly, himself, the company quickly launched a new attack: "Creators Syndicate demands that you immediately cease and desist from your unauthorized use of the link to Bill O'Reilly's column on his website."

Thanks to the assistance of Lawrence Lessig and Jennifer Granick of Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society, we have learned about the Ticketmaster ruling which says that Hypertext Linking Does Not Violate Copyright. In other words, we are entirely within our rights to post a link and I find it hard to believe that Creators Syndicate would be so incompetent as to be unaware of that ruling. Can you say "intimidation?"

The question occurs to me: Why would a big media star like O'Reilly and his henchmen want to go after us? Could it be because if you search "Bill O'Reilly" in Google News, the top two entries plus three more on the page come from us? I should think a "pope" like O'Reilly would have nothing to fear from li'l 'ol us. Note to O'Reilly: I take this as a compliment, that we must be making a difference.

By the way, we're not ducking for cover and we're not removing the link.