The Free Lance–Star sends nastygram to yours truly over the posting of an obituary (which they have no copyright claim to in the first place).

On September 9, 2008, I noted the passing of School Board member Bill Anderson.

On September 10, 2008, at or around 12:49 a.m., I updated the original post with the death announcement that appeared in The Free Lance–Star.

On September 11, 2008, at or around 3:24 a.m., I updated the original post by posting the full obituary for Mr. Anderson that appeared in the paper.

Today, September 23, 2008, at 12:17 p.m., I received the following e-mail [emphasis mine]:

Brian Baer <> Tue, Sep 23, 2008 at 12:17 PM

To: [redacted]

Hi Tim,

I’m writing to notify you that you have violated The Free Lance-Star’s copyright by posting an entire newspaper obituary for William Anderson on your blog.
Here’s a link to our permissions policy – should you see other content in the future on that you want to take:
Thanks in advance for changing the post.
Have a great day.

– Brian Baer
online managing editor, The Free Lance-Star

Yeah, folks, that’s real.

My first reply to Mr. Baer:

The last time I checked, the obituaries are sent to your paper by the funeral home, ipso facto, you have no copyright claim to them. Otherwise, you should pursue legal action against Storke Funeral Home for their website.

You folks aren’t the brightest, are you?

And thanks for the blog post.

“Paper complains about use of obituary”. Classy.

A follow-up reply I sent to him:

And isn’t it a violation of federal law to fraudulently claim to have the copyright authority over published works?

And sure enough, it is!:

Just so you know Mr. Baur, 17 U.S.C. § 506 (2007) reads, in part:

(c) Fraudulent Copyright Notice.— Any person who, with fraudulent intent, places on any article a notice of copyright or words of the same purport that such person knows to be false, or who, with fraudulent intent, publicly distributes or imports for public distribution any article bearing such notice or words that such person knows to be false, shall be fined not more than $2,500.

I will be forwarding this e-mail, both electronically and via snail mail, to the local United States Attorney for the Richmond Division for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Further e-mails from you or anyone else at your organization will result in me seeking judicial relief for harassment and/or stalking.

Thank you,
Timothy Watson

What a rag…

Actually, saying that is mean to rags, they serve purposes unlike this paper.


  1. Mark Brooks says:

    I have an idea what it is good for….


    The Free Lance-Fishwrap. I like it.

  2. I would never do that to those poor fish.

  3. bill sparks says:

    I love it:)rofl.Let free speech ring!!!

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