Mike Gerrard’s Techdirt Profile


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  • Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 12:02am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Bill Bryson Interview

    No, thank you for your thoughts and valuable insights into the situation. Very much appreciated.

  • Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 10:08am

    Re: Re: Bill Bryson Interview

    Amazon did not give me the opportunity to submit a counternotification. They told me the book had been taken down, and they would take no further part in the discussion. It was up to the two parties to resolve the issue. They made it clear that the only way they would put the ebook back on sale was if Random House withdrew their claim.

  • Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 6:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Bill Bryson Interview

    Thanks for those thoughts, much appreciated. The only reason US law might be relevant is that the republication of the interview was on Amazon, a US-based company. I have been told that courts in copyright cases do tend to look at the situation in other countries, even if there is nothing binding about the cases. They simply take them into account.

  • Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 12:18am

    Re: Re: Bill Bryson Interview

    Thanks for that comment, which is what I assumed all along. Bryson would have little idea what he said that day if I hadn't written it down, and of course the interview only includes what we discussed that was relevant to his writing. Private chat about family matters was omitted, and the interview shaped into a more logical order.

    It took two days of my time (and expenses) to travel to his village, stay overnight nearby, meet him the next morning, and then the time it took me to write the interview from my notes.

    Now if only I could get one of my legal advisors to come out and say it as simply as you did! I'm still waiting on their verdicts.

  • Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 12:10am

    Re: Re: Bill Bryson Interview

    Sorry, you also asked about the status of the magazine. Passport was a UK publication and I was also the co-publisher and co-editor, as well as doing this interview with Bryson.

  • Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 12:06am

    Re: Re: Bill Bryson Interview

    Thanks for those questions. The interview took place in the UK, and at that time I was a UK citizen and UK resident.

    Bill Bryson is, of course, American, but at that time was living in the UK. He is a US citizen but I would imagine (I don't know for sure) that at the time of the interview, as he had been living in the UK for a number of years, he had dual citizenship.

    I assume from your questions you're thinking UK law would prevail.

  • Oct 21st, 2013 @ 2:06pm

    Re: Bill Bryson Interview

    One other thought. Many of Bill Bryson's books include quotations of things people said to him. In his travel books these are frequently used to make fun of people, and I assume he doesn't ask their permission to quote their words.

    In his more serious books, like Shakespeare, he interviews Shakespeare scholars and quotes them. They must give their permission at the time, just as Bryson gave his permission to me 19 years ago to interview him, but if they later withdrew their permission, as Bryson is now doing to me, surely Random House would have to withdraw the book from publication as it breached other people's copyright.

    In other words, if Bryson also has to abide by the claims he is making against me, he would have to withdraw some of his books from publication if anyone objected. I'm taking a stance against this for your sake, Bill, as a writer yourself.

  • Oct 21st, 2013 @ 1:38pm

    Bill Bryson Interview

    As the author of the interview I've seen this reported in several places but this is the most interesting discussion thread I've seen.

    Just to explain things further, I am now a resident alien of the USA, the ebook was published in the USA by Amazon, but is available in the UK. Now, Amazon in the USA accepted a communication from Bryson's lawyers in the UK telling them that the ebook was in breach of copyright (I'm assuming this as I didn't see the communication) and on the basis of that communication removed the book from sale without consulting me or give me or my lawyer a chance to reply. Obviously Amazon assumes that if a lawyer at Random House says something is true then it must be true, with no further need to investigate.

    One possible consequence of this is that if Random House's claim proves not to be true, I would have claim against them for defamation and loss of earnings.

    From the researches I have done, it seems that according to cases that have come to court in the USA, I would be in the right. See, for example:

    If someone speaks to a journalist on the record then they must expect their words to be disseminated and not protected by copyright law.

    In the UK there don't seem to be any equivalent cases, and the copyright law on the spoken word is a little more hazy.

    But it's clearly a case of the big boys agreeing with each other, and the little guy doesn't stand a chance. The legal decision will go to whoever is rich, not whoever is right.

    When I republished the interview it never even occurred to me that I could be doing something wrong. I don't think I have done anything wrong, and I will continue to fight the case.

    Thanks to everyone, whether they agree with me or not, for their stimulating contributions.