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.

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  1. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 12 Dec 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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