Why you should write like a hypo©rite

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This 7 minute read, follows from Grasshopper‘s suggestion about blogging about building Karma Lawyers as a business. Topics include 

  • copyright
  • blogging
  • writing &
  • marketing.

Web designer friend Jono from Proton Creative (info@protoncreative.com.au) suggested Henneke for tips on writing a good blog.  

A benefit of being neurotic is a never ending quest for good advice. And Henneke Duistermaat’s copy sparkles. 

Stephen King’s book On writing had the largest conscious impact on my writing. Fiction is formative, but its’ influence is stealthy. King isn’t the first to suggest targeting 10 to 12 words per sentence. You need to vary that rule thought.

Metronome sentences put readers to sleep faster than novocaine.

Henneke sent her free course subscribers like moi, a special link. Click here to download a free chapter (“Editing your Blog posts”) from Henneke’s Blog to Win Business.  

In case you missed it, I suggested you download copyright protected material… without paying the author.

I’m a lawyer… So what the f%$%# am I doing???

Copyright

Copyright and copywriting have little in common. In essence, copyright is some version of this sentiment: “I own, what I wrote. I can sell it. I can lease it. But you can’t sell or lease it unless I’ve agree to your profiteering.”

Doesn’t encouraging you to jump on Henneke’s “secret link” (her words), encourage copyright breach?

Let’s postpone the answer.

First, Henneke won’t sue. Her publisher won’t either. And my reasons for optimism are several…

Damage

First, my blog isn’t Bit Torrent. Like a red herring, it belongs in the outer ring of my legal defence.

As I write these words, I’m not aware of a… single reader.

So in the vein of, if a tree falls in an empty forest… it’s questionable whether announcing Henneke’s link gives anything to anyone.

That leads to to the legal concept of “damage”. Now I’ve committed a tort (a legal wrong) by encouraging online theft…

Haven’t I?

Well, lack of “damage” may be an issue. Damage means “you doing that (e.g. send readers to steal copyright material), has cost me. So I can now send lawyers to damage YOU and get my pound of flesh…”

I can’t have damaged her… because there were no takers. No harm, no foul – right?

Waiver

Henneke initiated the “here, world. Have my copyright material.” In doing that she waived her right to sue me based on copyright… Well for that chapter and that particular link.

Because she hasn’t completely waived it only in a particular & narrow way.

Say I jump on her link and download it. Then I go and post that downloaded chapter at the bottom of my post. That would sidestep my solid-as-a rock waiver defence, with a spectacular own goal.

Because doing so, I’ve “breached” Henneke’s copyright in a different method than she permitted.

Standing

Then we move to “standing”. This might be a problem. It’s more complicated… Okay, it sounds complicated in the great tradition of our bullshit Latin infused profession…

Standing, means simply, “you’ve done something to me that gives me some specific right to sue you.”

Failing due to a lack of standing” is illustrated by my insult to law as a profession: bullshit / Latin infused etc. 

I’ve offended someone.

So who then has standing to sue me? Let’s play multiple choice.

  • Every lawyer that reads my comment?
  • Every lawyer that hears about my comment?
  • Everyone, who loves Latin… and is horrified to see “bullshit” written near it?
  • Everyone who hates lawyers… almost everyone. (God, who did I tort now!?)

Anyway, no-one has enough standing from all the above groups to sue me based on my cheap insult. (That’s good. It would get expensive.)

Jurisdiction

So if I helped others to breach Henneke’s copyright, then she would definitely be able to sue. Okay, not her, but her company Enchanting Writing Limited. (It’s the technical owner of her copyright).

Then we reach another layer of complexity. She’s in horrible England, I’m in gorgeous Sydney – so game, set, match… right? Kidding. Cross-jurisdictional agreements ensure that English can sue Australians for copyright breach, and visa versa. 

Paranoia

Like how medical students generate neurotic symptoms, the lawyer in me worries about copyright.  “Blawgs” (Legal Blogs) are manufactured by the largest group of former high school English geeks. 

Ever.

Oh… and they’ve writing professionally ever since. (Well sort of writing… have you read a contract?)

High school is often accused of not mattering. As a measure of future success, critics point out that it’s pretty awful…

But we’re talking writing here… And high school was the last place where sentences were produced inside a culture of competition.

And it led straight to BLAWGS. So I guess, high school doesn’t matter, when it comes to writing either… 

A marketing guru speaketh

Seth Godin popularised the term “idea virus” to describe how modern ideas spread. He gives the manifesto to anyone, Unleashing the Idea Virus here… (In case you’re 1 of 3 people who don’t subscribe to his evergreen blog).

It’s for marketers, but Idea Virus is for everyone’s benefit. It’s apropro that Godin gives his book away.

No copyright breach here. Here is a word-for-word quote (because I can) from 1 of the best copyright disclaimers I’ve ever read. 

Excerpted from page 2:

“You have permission to post this, email this, print this and pass it along for free to anyone you like, as long as you make no changes or edits to its contents or digital format. In fact, I’d love it if you’d make lots and lots of copies. The right to bind this and sell it as a book, however, is strictly reserved. While we’re at it, I’d like to keep the movie rights too. Unless you can get Paul Newman to play me.”

Now I may have underlined “pass it along for free to anyone you like” except for paranoia about the scope of Godin’s copyright. The essential condition attached to his extraordinary generosity was “as long as you make no changes or edits to its contents…

The Idea Virus describes the internet’s essence, is the way it facilitates how our ideas get transmitted involuntarily. Godin described this virus spread of ideas, as the essence of new media

Catching Your Disease

The challenge of Karma Lawyers is “catching” your attention. Like a sneeze. By people you don’t know. And sometimes don’t care to. Or like. Or would like, if you met them… etc.

That’s every businesses’ challenge. And it almost always circles back to the query… “Do I Care?”

So, I’ll admit it, copyright is a boring topic. But everyone can relate to being robbed. Then it becomes something else. It’s about violence and drama and what it’s like to be human and violated. 

But this isn’t even that. Encouraging you to “steal”Henneke’s spare chapter is not copyright infringement. No more then my placing hyperlinks to a weird website that lets you slap a guy in the face with an eel is real theft.

Because, that IS the point.Not the eel in the face thing but catching her (idea) virus.

Anyway my response ended up being predictable click-bait response to a great copywriter’s ploy. Henneke wants you to read her chapter without paying and then buy her reasonable priced book.

I bought the book, so who stole what? Kidding – it’s great. To finish with soaring eloquence, great blogs work like a cracking pandemic of herpes. 

Henneke, I couldn’t help it. I had an itch.

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