Monday, June 26, 2006

Michael Yon's Fight Continues...

"...Jack Kliger is neither nimble, nor quick. How does someone like Jack get to run a $550 million company? And why is a company that smears our military in order to sell copies of their gross-out tabloid allowed to sell any magazines on our military bases?

Although Kliger’s letter failed to persuade the managers of 10,000 stores who responded to the emails and calls from outraged customers and pulled the magazine, it did manage to lure two distributors to cross the line into actionable turf. Last week we learned that two bookselling chains, Borders and Indigo/Charters (a largely Canadian enterprise) are joining Jack in breaking the law.

A concerned citizen wrote to Borders, and then forwarded Border’s response to me. Unbeknownst to the citizen, my representatives had also sent Borders a second demand notice with a copy of the copyright registration attached. Despite this communication from my attorney, Borders cited the First Amendment as grounds for their decision to display and sell a magazine that by the publisher’s own admission is comprised of stolen goods.

Borders has a consistency problem when it comes to draping itself in the First Amendment. The last time this bookseller was in the news for pulling magazines from their shelves the First Amendment also came up, but in that case they stated publicly that concerns for the well-being of their Muslim customers outweighed any allegiance to the First Amendment. The decision caused some controversy which might explain their reluctance to extend the same concern to customers who are veterans, active duty military or the friends and families of both. This attempt to hide behind the First Amendment is so far off point as to provoke a What could they be thinking? Selling those magazines with my work is illegal, period.

This isn’t about free speech, it’s about copyright infringement. It’s about right and wrong. All of these retailers are vigorous in pursuit of shoplifters so they understand the impact of having property taken from them. A store owner can be an innocent infringer up until we inform the violator that the merchandize on his shelves violates US law. I intend to pursue any business, at any point in the chain of custody of my purloined property, who tried to profit from this violation. That includes those retailers who refuse pull the magazine from circulation.

Rite Aid agreed to do the right thing, including the permanent removal of the magazine, and so I personally told Rite Aid that I would not demand a dime from them, even though under the law I can because they sold some copies. But after Rite Aid became aware of the dispute, they were professional, courteous, and decisive. I will go out of my way to shop in Rite Aid stores...."

And from now on, so will I, Mike. To be clued into the whole sordid affair click here.

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