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Gawker Threatened For Publishing Quotes From Book Proposal, Adds 'Commentary' In Response

from the nauseating-and-cloying-precociousness-that-permeates-the-entire-proposal dept

Apparently, Gawker recently got its hands on a book proposal from someone named Lena Dunham, who received a rather significant $3.7 million advance for the work. I've never heard of Dunham, though $3.7 million book advances are pretty rare. You generally have to be someone pretty big to get that. Either way, Gawker, as it is known to do, published the book proposal and made fun of Dunham and the writing. Gawker's initial post definitely did seem a bit gloating and childish in mocking Dunham, but that's kind of the point of Gawker, I believe. Either way, Dunham went legal. Her lawyer contacted Gawker and demanded removal of the proposal, along with all of the quotes from it. In response, Gakwer did remove the full proposal, but left in the quotes but added commentary which is unlikely to make Dunham particularly happy. Here are two examples, though there are many more.

I've been in therapy since I was seven.

Update: Lena Dunham's personal litigation counsel Charles Harder has contacted Gawker to relay a demand from his client, Lena Dunham, that we remove the above quote from our web site. In order to clarify our intent in quoting the above matter from Dunham's proposal, we have decided to append the following commentary: The quoted sentence is revelatory of Dunham's character in that it provides evidence that she has been examining her own thoughts and desires analytically from an absurdly young age. It is also indicative of a nauseating and cloying precociousness that permeates the entire proposal.

When I was about nine I developed a terrible fear of being anorexic.

Update: Lena Dunham's personal litigation counsel Charles Harder has contacted Gawker to relay a demand from his client, Lena Dunham, that we remove the above quote from our web site. In order to clarify our intent in quoting the above matter from Dunham's proposal, we have decided to append the following commentary: The quoted sentence is indicative of Dunham's self-dramatizing narcissism inasmuch as it presents what is obviously a desire for an attention-grabbing condition as a fear of developing said condition. It is also indicative of a nauseating and cloying precociousness that permeates the entire proposal.

Of course, by adding commentary, Gawker is clearly trying to show that it's quoting was fair use. Given the short nature of the original quotes, they probably could make a decent fair use claim on the original post as well, even without the additional commentary (and, of course, if sued, they could still get dinged for the original quotes sans commentary). But, still... the end result of all of this is that Gawker just gets that much more attention, and Lena Dunham's "nauseating and cloying precociousness" gets a further hearing. I fail to see how that benefits Dunham at all. Going legalistic just because you don't like how someone covers your work -- even if you have a legitimate copyright claim -- is often not a particularly intelligent business decision.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 12th, 2012 @ 5:25am

    i have no idea who was the original, the very first person to start this legal threatening over disliked comments made by others, but whoever it was (and assuming the first to get what they threatened to be achieved) just really opened the flood gates for millions of others to do the same. i cant help but wonder what real good it has done? i also cant help wondering if that first person has been on the receiving end since and what their reaction was?

     

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  2.  
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    average_joe (profile), Dec 12th, 2012 @ 5:28am

    Of course, by adding commentary, Gawker is clearly trying to show that it's quoting was fair use.

    Or they're attempting to turn what was infringement into fair use. But by adding the text and trying to make it into fair use, they are only admitting that it wasn't fair use to begin with. Even if this new use is fair, that doesn't negate the prior infringement. And now they're just pissing them off, making it more likely that they are sued. Good times.

     

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  3.  
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    Yogi, Dec 12th, 2012 @ 5:32am

    Makes sense

    This is what happens when you start therapy at the mature, elderly age of seven. It's just too little, too late. She should have started when she was three...

     

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  4.  
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    ClarkeyBalboa, Dec 12th, 2012 @ 5:50am

    $3.7 million advance. If I were her, i'd have taken the money and gotten to writing. All she is doing is digging a hole in legal fees, money she may not recoup now either from a lawsuit, or from book sales if she alienates too many people.

     

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  5.  
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    Simon, Dec 12th, 2012 @ 5:52am

    Re:

    Nice deal for her. Looking at IMDB, the only thing she's been involved in that I've heard of is "Mildred Pearce" where she played "Nurse 1" for two episodes.

     

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  6.  
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    Lois, Dec 12th, 2012 @ 5:59am

    Jerk

    She should sue her therapist for allowing her to become such a jerk.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 12th, 2012 @ 6:04am

    A huge advance to someone who is well off for a book full of gossip is my guess, I assume that this is the person in question. Welcome to the incestuous world of content production and media 'personalities'. This is probably a safe bet for a book by the publishers as it she probably has enough fans who will buy the book just to have it.
    When will the publisher invest a fraction of this sort of money into reviewing submissions and coaching promising would be published authors. This would be using their monopoly to encourage the production of works of value to a culture.

     

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  8.  
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    Lowestofthekeys (profile), Dec 12th, 2012 @ 6:07am

    It's funny because if you look at the comments, the public discussion seems to center more on how terrible she sounds as opposed to the litigation used against Gawker.

    I'm all for pretentious young movie stars ruining their reputations in this manner.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 12th, 2012 @ 6:12am

    Re:

    First Paragraph of the Wikipedia Article about her:

    Lena Dunham ( /ˈlinə ˈdʌnəm/ lee-nə dun-um; born May 13, 1986) is an American filmmaker and actress.[1] She wrote and directed the independent film Tiny Furniture (2010), and is the creator and star of the HBO series Girls. In 2012, she was nominated for 4 Emmy Awards for Girls.

     

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  10.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Dec 12th, 2012 @ 6:23am

    Re: Re:

    Didn't she also do the 'Voting for Obama is like the first time you had sex' video?

     

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  11.  
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    sheenyglass (profile), Dec 12th, 2012 @ 6:40am

    Re:

    First, I'm not clear that posting a document of public interest wouldn't qualify as fair use. It seems like it might. The use of quotes vs the whole document goes to one of the four factors in a fair use analysis, the amount of work copied.

    Second, even if she did sue, what are her damages? I doubt it was registered, so no statutory damages are available. Proving actual damages would be fairly difficult since there really aren't any; she's not selling the proposal in bookstores and she's already sold the book

     

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  12. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Dec 12th, 2012 @ 6:46am

    You don't know that any publicity is good publicity?

    "I fail to see how that benefits Dunham at all."

    It's an and still likely strategy -- just look: with this notice on Techdirt, at least a dozen people are informed of her upcoming book! If the usual rates apply, she's assured of 0.001 more sale!

    I'm surprised that Mike "Streisand Effect" Masnick wouldn't know all there is about publicity (reverse strategy too), let alone that old saw. But Mike's failures are frequent.






    Every click for Mike "Streisand Effect" Masnick is a click for him!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect
    His fame now depends totally on you! He's done all he can!

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 12th, 2012 @ 6:51am

    Lena Dunham, self absorbed since the tender age of 7.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 12th, 2012 @ 6:58am

    Re:

    Warning; ajs posts are not checked for logical fallacies and we offer no warrenty in case of such as allowed by applicable law

     

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  15.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Dec 12th, 2012 @ 6:58am

    Re: You don't know that any publicity is good publicity?

    IGNORANUS - n: A person who is not only ignorant, but is also an asshole. eg: out_of_the_blue is absolutely and unashamedly an Ignoranus

     

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  16.  
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    Rekrul, Dec 12th, 2012 @ 7:00am

    Re: Re:

    I saw Tiny Furniture. Apparently she likes to follow the Seinfeld philosophy of filmmaking, since it was basically a film about nothing.

     

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  17.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 12th, 2012 @ 7:04am

    Re:

    Or they're attempting to turn what was infringement into fair use. But by adding the text and trying to make it into fair use, they are only admitting that it wasn't fair use to begin with.

    I did note that they could still get dinged by the original quotation sans commentary. However, I don't think that adding commentary is an automatic admission that the original was NOT fair use. That seems like an extreme interpretation. Adding to the commentary for the sake of making the point clearer is a reasonable move.

    Even if this new use is fair, that doesn't negate the prior infringement.

    As I noted. And, again, you're assuming that it absolutely is infringement.

    And now they're just pissing them off, making it more likely that they are sued. Good times.

    A lawsuit under the circumstances would seem really, really stupid. Gawker has a pretty good track record on these kinds of lawsuits.

     

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  18.  
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    Cory of PC (profile), Dec 12th, 2012 @ 7:08am

    Re: You don't know that any publicity is good publicity?

    Allow me to pick up this from one other comment thread...

    Are we supposed to take you seriously?

     

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  19.  
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    Lowestofthekeys (profile), Dec 12th, 2012 @ 7:23am

    Re: You don't know that any publicity is good publicity?

    OOTB, I know you're being your general, sardonic self, and I do appreciate that since it really helps brings in the views these articles, but unfortunately the more people that see that Gawker article, the less likely they are to buy her drivel.

     

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  20.  
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    Atkray (profile), Dec 12th, 2012 @ 7:23am

    Re: Re: You don't know that any publicity is good publicity?

    Man, I went to UD to vote that up. :/

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 12th, 2012 @ 7:25am

    Meanwhile in the real world...

    ■ Writer spends two years writing a book.
    ■ Writer spends another two years trying to get a publisher to look at it, never mind read it.
    ■ Privileged woman gets $3.7 million for writing a book that doesn't exist yet.



    @ Gawker
    ""Dunham exists in a navel-gazing bubble of privilege where one's mother simply has a nutritionist.""


    Well said Gawker, well said

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 12th, 2012 @ 7:40am

    me again

    The stick up your ass over Mike looks painful from here.
    It's a reason to completely disregard ALL CONTENT of your argument.
    Did Mike steal your girlfriend or something ?



    I do somewhat agree that all publicity is good publicity to a point.
    And.... you should Ignore the Attention Whore

    given... something Mike didn't do with TheOatmeal and that marketeer scammer Inman.
    But that was a very specific case were the narrative was established by Inman(the viral marketeer). It also wasn't just TD that used that narrative of "poor helpless cartoonist VERSUS the evil rich empire of FunnyJunk".


    This story has fuck all to do with TD buying a narrative.


    Get that stick about Mike, out of your ass.

    You sound retarded again

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 12th, 2012 @ 7:47am

    Re:

    She is also experienced in Hollywood accounting, where the promise of royalties is not worth the paper it is written on, hence she will not write her book until paid what she thinks it is worth.

     

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  24.  
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    Ed (profile), Dec 12th, 2012 @ 7:47am

    Justified

    The mocking of Dunham is entirely appropriate and necessary. Her HBO series should be prohibited for inciting misogyny, or at least presented with a very strong warning of such.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 12th, 2012 @ 8:18am

    Re: You don't know that any publicity is good publicity?

    You are a pretty good source of entertainment and add value to the comments section.

    I rarely ever scroll down to the comments section on blogs but whenever I read an article on here I think "huh, I wonder what one of the trolls will do with this one." and then scroll down looking for you! Easy to find given it's a different colored text I'm scanning for to click on.

    If anything Mike and the rest of the crew should thank you! You are improving the community here.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 12th, 2012 @ 8:59am

    Re:

    I don't think that this constitutes 'proof' of the first attempt, but it certainly is the most cited:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect

     

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  27.  
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    ldne, Dec 12th, 2012 @ 10:05am

    Re:

    Wow, that was lame. Adding a comment won't make the original infringement go away, even if the whiner didn't take a screenshot for posterity or something, because the comments reference the whiner's complaint. If it was actual infringement, they would've quietly taken down the posting while ignoring the notice and hope it all went away, not metaphorically flip her the bird.

     

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  28.  
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    Matt (profile), Dec 12th, 2012 @ 10:37am

    The book proposal Gawker published consists of lots of details and snippets of her forthcoming book. I don't think Gawker can justify posting the full proposal as fair use, since the original post consisted primarily of insulting comments aimed at Dunham and her polarizing personality, rather than of the proposal and proposed book.

    Given she has to sell way more than $3.7m worth of books, can you really blame her for attempting to pull 66 pages worth of proposed contents and samples of said contents? Also, this just gives her way more publicity and think she knows (and probably doesn't care) just how love/hate she is...

     

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  29.  
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    average_joe (profile), Dec 12th, 2012 @ 11:25am

    Re: Re:

    And, again, you're assuming that it absolutely is infringement.

    I'm not saying it absolutely was infringement. But the fact that they felt they had to change the post indicates that they weren't so sure that it wasn't infringing. If they were sure that it was fair use, they wouldn't have changed it. The fact that they changed it indicates that they didn't think fair use was a lock. My point was that by changing it they haven't erased the infringement whatsoever.

    A lawsuit under the circumstances would seem really, really stupid. Gawker has a pretty good track record on these kinds of lawsuits.

    And they might even win. My point though is that all they did was make things worse. They should have left it alone or taken it down. Rubbing it in her face while she's obviously upset about it was not the move I would have made. But I can see how such a move would meet with your approval.

     

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  30.  
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    JMT (profile), Dec 12th, 2012 @ 12:47pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Some people back down meekly when bullied with unreasonable and pointless threats. Some people push back. I guess you're one of the former.

     

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  31.  
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    cosmicrat, Dec 12th, 2012 @ 2:05pm

    Dunhams laughing all the way to the bank

    First of all, yes the original post contained a bit much material to be defended as fair use. Now maybe as a Wikileaks dump pertaining to the decline of the collective American IQ...

    Second, Lena Dumb-Ham is probably delighted at Gawker's subsequent lambasting of her. In her world of self absorbed, elitist, fat-chick-lit, neo-feminist "comedy" the attention, no matter what kind, will only help her.

    And I've got nothing against her. Live and let live.

     

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  32.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Dec 12th, 2012 @ 2:27pm

    Re:

    Given she has to sell way more than $3.7m worth of books


    No, she doesn't, unless she has an unusual deal with her publisher. She doesn't have to sell a single book. Her publisher has to sell that many books to recoup, of course, but she gets to keep the advance regardless (unless she fails to produce the work on schedule).

     

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  33.  
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    Alana (profile), Dec 12th, 2012 @ 3:01pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'm not saying it absolutely was infringement

    Even if this new use is fair, that doesn't negate the prior infringement

    More flops than than bacon in a frying pan.

     

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  34.  
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    Matt (profile), Dec 12th, 2012 @ 11:37pm

    Re: Re:

    If she ever wants another book to be published by Random House, she has to sell well over $3.7m worth of books, which doesn't sound that easy to me...

     

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  35.  
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    AnonCow, Dec 13th, 2012 @ 8:30am

    For being fat, she has incredibly thin skin...

     

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  36.  
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    Denise Brown, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 5:27am

    Re: Re:

    She is acting in, writing, producing and directing the HBO show, "Girls", which seems to be VERY popular at the moment.

     

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