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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Little Help With Ye Olde Pronouns

I'm no grammar maven. That might be obvious to you if you are, in fact, a grammar expert, and also a regular reader of this blog. I'm overly fond of the comma, fearful of the semicolon, and I have never met a run-on sentence that I didn't like. But I'm also never one to turn away an opportunity to learn something new and to correct myself (before I can be corrected by snooty others).

So needless to say, I enjoy a good piece of writing about grammar, and this week the New York Times was happy to comply: "The I's Have It" by Patricia T. O'Conner and Stewart Kellerman is an article explaining the proper usage of "I" and "Me," a distinction I confess to never quite having gotten right, except in the most obvious of circumstances.

In particular the article focuses on the common error "you and I" as opposed to the correct "you and me."

But if your grammar is anything like mine, O'Conner and Kellerman assure you not to fret. According to them:
It wasn’t until the mid-1800s that language mavens began kvetching about “I” and “me.” The first kvetch cited in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage came from a commencement address in 1846. In 1869, Richard Meade Bache included it in his book “Vulgarisms and Other Errors of Speech.”
Vulgarisms? Hrmph. Well go ahead and lump me in with the other vulgar writers like Shakespeare and Byron. Because, well, between you and I, I'm perfectly content in that company.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Spotlight on...

Ever so often I read a post from a friend or fellow blogger that really just stands out and knocks me sideways. "Am I Asleep?" by my friend Sven over at To Make a Long Story Short was just such a post.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Hope... That This Doesn't Become a Lawsuit

The first shots have been fired in the Hope War.

Shepard Fairey's ubiquitous image of President Barack Obama has become the subject of a copyright dispute. The Associated Press claims that it holds the copyright of the photograph upon which the image was created, and thus are entitled to a share of all monies earned. However, Fairey and his attorneys have filed a best-defense-is-a-good-offense lawsuit claiming that Fairey's work is protected under fair-use exceptions to copyright law.

The fair-use doctrine of U.S. copyright law developed from a series of court decisions over the years, and was eventually codified here. The exception lists guidelines that may be taken into consideration for certain exceptions to copyright law when a copyrighted work is used without permission. The one I think is potentially pertinent here is: (3) amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.

Meanwhile, Mannie Ramirez, the photographer credited with taking the original photo, which is believed to be from a National Press Club event in April 2006, claims that he still holds the copyright to the photo. Moreover, his position seems to place the value of Fairey's contribution to art and culture first, saying as quoted in the New York Times article:

“I don’t condone people taking things, just because they can, off the Internet,” Mr. Garcia said. “But in this case I think it’s a very unique situation.”

He added, “If you put all the legal stuff away, I’m so proud of the photograph and that Fairey did what he did artistically with it, and the effect it’s had.”
So what do you think? Is Fairey protected by fair-use doctrine? Or does he have to cough up some change to the AP (or to Ramirez)?