When Does Reposting Go Beyond Fair Use?


I recently published a little article in a local paper that syndicated it to three other related newspapers. Entitled “Worst summer vacations in history,” it offered several faux diary entries purporting to be from summer vacations gone bad, including one from Noah’s son, Shem; an Egyptian complaining that the Sun God Rah never appeared while his brother-in-law, Atentophot-Who-Can’t-Hold-a-Job was around”; and a few others. (I’ll get to them in a moment, after I take a moment and wonder if Noah named his son Shem with the hopes he might someday join the 3 Stooges.)

The idea for the article came when a high-powered editor I was working with complained about not being able to get back to me because Internet access at his vacation home was spotty. I’ve encountered the same thing while on vacation — the frustration of not being able to access email, websites, and documents stored in the clouds, even when you should be at the beach or the lake or the mountains or wherever you are. I thought that would make a fun article — to balance complaints from a biblical flood on the one hand and the lack of WiFi for more recent vacations.

Anyway, the article didn’t generate any comments on the website of the newspapers that published it but I did see a mention of it on a fan fiction site. The person who posted the article had very nice things to say about the article, and then, instead of linking to it (as I did, above), she copied some of the diary entries onto the forum. Now I totally appreciate her kind words, and am glad the article amused her. (My wife did not like it so much at first because I assume she was concerned she’d recognize one of our vacations in the list; thankfully she realized we’ve never been to Nottingham where we were victimized by Robin Hood so that made a difference.) But the poster did not include a link back to the newspapers’ sites; I’m not suggesting that entry on the fan fiction site is generating tons of clicks — but none of those readers are clicking on the page, which might further encourage the newspaper editor to continue to run my pieces. (Just so you know, the fan fiction site is not devoted to my work; the article was cited as opportunity for fans of that particular ’60s TV show to write their own faux diary entries of bad summer vacations experienced the show’s characters.)

I’m sure the posting goes beyond fair use because it quotes more than half the article but it’s not like I’m selling copies of it elsewhere. I try to be careful about fair use whenever I cite someone else’s work in one of my blogs, and I always provide a link to the original. I want to encourage people to follow my work — not scold anyone — so, in the future, how about tweeting about it to drive traffic to the source?

Selected Humor Articles in Smaller Market Newspapers

  • Salem News: “Worst summer vacations in history” (Aug. 16, 2014)
  • Newburyport News: “Worst summer vacations in history” (Aug. 16, 2014)
  • Gloucester Times: “Worst summer vacations in history” (Aug. 16, 2014)
  • Eagle Tribune: “Worst summer vacations in history” (Aug. 16, 2014)
  • Gloucester Times: “My View: My life is an open e-book” (March 10, 2011)
  • Eagle Tribune: “My View: My life is an open e-book” (March 10, 2011)
  • Andover Townsman: “My View: My life is an open e-book” (March 10, 2011)
  • The Daily News of Newburyport/Newburyport News: “My View: My life is an open e-book” (March 10, 2011)
  • Salem News: “My View: My life is an open e-book” (March 10, 2011)
  • Derry News: “My View: My life is an open e-book” (March 10, 2011)
  • Carriage Towne News: “My View: My life is an open e-book” (March 10, 2011)
  • Greenwich Post: “Medieval Mystery: Who’s Got the Moat” (Nov. 29, 2007)
  • Salem News: “Bush Campaign Targets the Lovelorn” (Oct. 7, 2004)
  • Salem News: “In land of Trump, $40 million is chump change” (June 2, 2004)
  • Salem News: “Lots of Pain Involved in ‘Springing Forward'” (April 3, 2004)
  • Gloucester Daily Times: “Lots of Pain Involved in ‘Springing Forward'” (April 3, 2004)
  • Newburyport (MA) Daily News: “Lots of Pain Involved in ‘Springing Forward'” (April 3, 2004)
  • Salem News: “Question for the New Season: Is it Real or is it Reality TV?” (Sept. 23, 2003)
  • Salem News: “In Latest Scandal to Rock Investment Industry, AG Looks into Citigroup ‘kid pro quo’ ” (Nov. 19, 2002)
  • Salem News: “Iraqi Leader Really Knows How to Run a Campaign” (Oct. 18, 2002)
  • Salem News: “Trapped in Brave New World of Debit Cards, PINs and Megabanks” (Mar. 26, 2001)
  • Salem News: “Why a First Birthday Party Without a Theme is Like a Wedding Without a Bride” (Feb. 27, 2001)
    Salem News: “My Parents Went to the Inauguration, and all I got was This Lousy T-Shirt” (Jan. 20, 2001)
  • Gloucester Daily Times: “Gift-giving: ‘Thanks, You Really, Really, Really Shouldn’t Have!’ (Dec 21. 2000)
  • Salem News: “Gift-giving: ‘Thanks, You Really, Really, Really Shouldn’t Have!'” (Dec. 21, 2000)
  • Salem News: “How to Survive Your College Reunion: Here’s Hint: Lie a Lot” (Nov. 10, 2000)
  • Salem News: “LCS Index says in Kennebunkport, it’s Bush by a landslide” (Nov. 2, 2000)
  • Salem News: “Best or Worst Dressed, the Important Thing is Getting on People’s list” (Oct. 13, 2000)
  • Salem News: “Why I’m not watching the Olympics” (Sept. 28, 2000)
  • Salem News: “When Good Cars Go Bad” (Sept. 8, 2000)
  • Salem News: “Baseball Needs a New Song; for Sox Fans it Should be Something Blue” (Aug. 3, 2000)
  • Salem News: “Zillioniare” (June 15, 2000)
  • Salem News“Mother’s Day Shopping Tips for Shopping-impaired Guys” (May 13, 2000)
  • Salem News: “Y2K: And What about the Human Factor?” (Dec. 30, 1999)
  • Manchester (CT) Journal Inquirer: “Tips for the Shopping-Impaired” (Dec. 18, 1999)
  • Salem News: “Double-Oh-Seven Habits of Secret Agents” (Dec. 1, 1999)
  • Salem News: “Suburban Blues” (Sept., 1999)
  • Salem News: “Pregnancy Survival Guide for Men” (Apr. 1999)
  • Salem News: “Modern Wonder Woman Would Make a Great Partner for Really-can-fix-it Man” (Apr. 12, 1999)
  • Salem News: “Goodbye to all that” (Jan. , 1999)
  • Salem News: “Hints from ‘The Office Party Survival Guide'” (Dec. 17, 1998)
  • Salem News: “Business Travel a Lousy Way to See the U.S.A.” (Nov. 25, 1998)
  • Salem News: “Must-see TV may be Path to College Degree” (Oct. 19, 1998)
  • Salem News: “If You’re Going to Enjoy Your Yard, Forget About the Lawn” (Sept. 21, 1998)
  • Salem News: “Going to the Dogs: Animal-related Sayings Really get his Goat” (Aug. 27, 1998)
  • Salem News: “Buy This Book or Else” (Aug. 10, 1998)
  • Salem News: “I’ve Got a Ticket to Drive” (July 17, 1998)
  • Salem News: “Finding a Barbecue Fit for the Holiday is No Easy Task” (July 3, 1998)
  • Salem News: “Grand Old Flag Makes for a Blah Holiday” (June 17, 1998)
  • Salem News: “Five Mistakes not to Make After College” (June 1, 1998)
  • Salem News: “Forget About Broadway, I’ll Take Abbot Hall” (Apr. 20, 1998)
  • Salem News: “At Today’s Bookstore the Menu’s a Better Read Than the Bestseller List” (Apr. 6, 1998)
  • Salem News: “A League of Their Own” (Feb. 23, 1998)
  • Manchester Journal Inquirer: “From Guilt City to Spin City: Evade the Holiday Trap Laid by Your Parents Next Year” (Jan. 30, 1998)
  • Manchester Journal Inquirer: “Bookstore Isn’t for Books” (Jan. 13, 1998)
  • Boston Business Journal: “Top-secret Business Consulting Tips from Bond, James Bond” (Dec. 26, 1997)
  • Salem News: “Forget about Those Beanie Babies! Look for the New ‘Retirement Barbie'” (Dec. 24, 1997)
  • Manchester Journal Inquirer: “The Idiot Box Goes to School” (Dec. 6, 1997)
  • Manchester Journal Inquirer: “Lawn Club for Men: Where’s Sy Sperling When You Need Him?” (Nov. 8, 1997)
  • Manchester Journal Inquirer: “Stars and Stripes, Whatever” (June 14, 1997)
  • Manchester Journal Inquirer: “When Food Meets Fashion, Who’s Eating?” (Jan. 25, 1997)
  • The Boston Tab: “The Spiel and the Deal” (July 29, 1997)
  • The Boston Tab: “High Cuisine, High Fashion” (July 8, 1997)
  • Manchester Journal Inquirer: “Joining the Mafia: How to Get an Offer You Can’t Refuse” (Jan. 1, 1997)
  • Manchester Journal Inquirer: “What if Barbie Went Real-life for Christmas?” (Nov. 18, 1996)
  • Manchester Journal Inquirer: “They Came from Another World…or Refrigerator” (Sept. 6, 1996)
  • Manchester Journal Inquirer: “Helping the Queen Make a Mint” (Aug. 29, 1996)
  • Manchester Journal Inquirer: “10 Steps for the New Michael Jackson” (Jan. 26, 1996)
  • Manchester Journal Inquirer: “12 Dismays of Christmas” (Dec. 26, 1994)
  • Manchester Journal Inquirer: “Why I Won’t Watch the Olympics” (Feb. 25, 1994)


Selected Serious Journalism and Op-Ed Articles


Selected Humor Articles in Major Market Newspapers


Humor Articles in Major Market Newspapers

  • Boston Herald: “Virtual world of trouble: Living in the Age of Too Much Information” (Feb. 14, 2009)
  • Boston Herald: “Stars and Stripes are Glorious, But Flag Day Gets No Respect” (June 9, 2002)
  • Boston Herald: “Above All, Don’t Give Appliances to the Wife on Mother’s Day” (May 11, 2002)
  • Indianapolis Star: “A Toyota with a Mind of its Own” (Aug. 20, 2000)
  • Chicago Tribune“Baseball Should Sing a New Tune” (July 21, 2000)
  • Chicago Tribune“Take Note: Holiday Shopping Tips for Shopping-Impaired Guys” (Dec. 16, 1999)
  • Chicago Tribune“Are We Having Fun Yet?” (Nov. 25, 1999)
  • Boston Herald: “Gall in the Family” (Nov. 26, 1998)
  • Miami Herald: “Random Thoughts: Sunday Smile – VCR That Flashes 11:00” (Nov. 8, 1998)
  • New York Daily News: “Avoiding the Holiday Guilt-a-thon” (Nov. 26, 1998)
  • The Boston Globe“Parking at Logan Airport – Now There’s a Challenge” (July 19, 1998)
  • New York Daily News: “Dig This Sales Pitch” (July 11, 1998)
  • Chicago Tribune: “Got Any Big Plans for the Holiday?” (June 12, 1998)
  • New York Daily News: “Ivy Tower Baseball” (Apr. 18, 1998)
  • Philadelphia Inquirer: “Change the Rules, the Games, Everything: I am Not Watching Until . . .” (Feb. 17, 1998)
  • Miami Herald: “Random Thoughts: Olympics for Real People” (Feb. 6, 1998)
  • Seattle Times: “How to Improve the Olympic Games” (Feb. 6, 1998)
  • Portland Oregonian: “Boycott Olympics’ Television” (Feb. 8, 1998)
  • Washington Times: “Critic-at-Large: The Winter Olympics on Thin Ice” (Feb. 8, 1998)
  • New York Daily News: “Cold Shoulder for Winter Games” (Feb. 3, 1998)
  • Boston Herald: “It’s Time to Improve the Olympics” (Jan. 31, 1998)
  • Chicago Tribune: “A Few Pointers on How to Improve the Winter Olympics” (Jan. 28, 1998)
  • The Wall Street Journal“Manager’s Journal: Benchmarking the Joneses” (Aug. 11, 1997)
  • The Asian Wall Street Journal: “That’s Not Your Colleague, That’s Your Wife” (Aug. 13, 1997)
  • New York Daily News: “Flag Day – Not a Banner Holiday” (June 13, 1997)
  • Boston Herald: “Barbies You Won’t be Seeing Soon” (Dec. 1, 1996)
  • (Salt Lake City) Deseret News: “I Won’t Watch Games Until They Get Real” (Aug. 3, 1996)
  • The New York Times: “Let’s Make Phone Tag a Medal Event” (July 21, 1996)
  • The New York Times Magazine: “NYPD Blue” (Nov. 6, 1994)
  • Honolulu Star-Bulletin: “Why I’m Not Watching the Olympics” (Feb. 25, 1994)
  • Rocky Mountain News: “Olympics Put Our Endurance to Test” (Feb. 16, 1994)
  • San Francisco Chronicle: “Wasting Time on the Olympics” (Feb. 15, 1994)
  • Houston Chronicle: “If the Olympic Games Were Based on Real Life, More People Would Watch” (Feb. 13, 1994)
  • The New York Times: “Mets Memo: Pay ’em When They Win” (June 13, 1993)
  • Arizona Republic: “The Degree That Life Confers” (June 5, 1986)
  • The New York Times: “The Degree That Life Confers” (May 26, 1986)