Ok, so wow, I have fan pages on Facebook. Talk about things I never thought would happen in a million years and THAT is one of them.
I’m writing this to explain my actions on Facebook recently where I asked a bunch of supporters to help me take down some of these fan pages. Some people don’t understand why, and I’m sure the fans themselves probably don’t understand why, so I thought it needed clarification.
Without making this a fifteen page blog post, here are the main reasons:
1) Not everyone out there is smart enough to know these aren’t really me. Yes, I’ve actually had people “friend” me there and then ask me in real-life why I never responded to them about something, only to find out it wasn’t me they were talking to anyway.
2) I don’t have time to constantly troll myself, jumping from page to page, to figure out what ones are good and what ones are bad. That would require me going back to each one every few days/weeks to be sure nothing inappropriate has been written. (See Example later)
3) Most of them are pretnding to actually BE me. There’s a fine line between a “Fan page” and “Identity theft”.
4) The safety of my family.
The best reason: My family’s Safety
Reasons one through three, when combined together, lead to reason number four. I’ll give you a couple real-world examples to show you what I mean from my standpoint.
Both of the above examples are from a “fan” page. This is the kind of stuff I don’t have the time to deal with. Ninety percent of the fan pages out there probably don’t do this kind of stuff, but the more of them that exist, the easier it is for ones like this to get lost in the mix.
Having people saying things like this and having other people thinking it’s me saying it, puts me in a fairly dangerous predicament.
I’m not super-famous, but I’m widely-known enough that it seems people will forever recognize my face when I go places. That’s really cool most of the time. Most of the people are nice and shake my hand or my daughter’s hand. Those people we really enjoy meeting. But let’s take that previous scenario and think about what it opens us up to.
All it takes is for one person to “think” that’s me and then see me later in a grocery store or out on the street somewhere. Some guy remembers seeing that post proclaiming that I punched a man, and then cursed about his kid. The next thing you know this guy is going out of his way to pick a fight with me in public, best case. Worst case he waits until I’m not looking and cracks me over the head with something. What if my kids are with me? What if my eight year old son is around? These are the things YOU guys don’t have to worry about, but I do.
Another Real Life Scenario (contains language I’d normally never use)
An individual opened up a chat room on a fairly popular chat server, and said they were doing a live interview, pretending to be me. “Tommy Jordan gives parenting advice” or something along those lines was the topic of discussion. This actually happened a lot but one of these had me looking out my windows all night with a pistol in my hand and my wife sleeping on the couch with a gun.
People start coming into the chat room to hang out, talk with “me” and get my take on their parenting issues. During a chat session it comes out in the conversation that the parent talking to “me” is a black lady. The next thing you know this guy is saying “Oh, that’s the problem right there. You can’t make them nigger kids behave. You gotta just beat the hell out of ’em.”
Thinks about what that person just said for a moment. First, it’s incredibly mean and an incredibly hate-filled remark. They could have chosen to pick on ANY particular group of people, and in my opinion that’s what they were planning to do. (Thankfully a moderator shut it down and got in touch with me about it quickly.) They probably planned on insulting black people, mexicans, illegal immigrants, the unemployed, homosexuals, democrats, short people, and every other dynamic of people they could, just to incite rage.
But what’s not at all cool to me is what could happen as a result of ONE statement like that. We live in a world where violence is easy to incite and the flames of rage are very easy to fan. It takes only a spark. A few of those statements against any particular group of people could quite literally have people stalking my family and throwing molotov cocktails through the windows of my house.
I could be seen in public six months later by someone who was in that chat room and the next thing you know I’m in a fight with someone I’ve never met, trying to stop them from killing me without killing them at the same time. I could be arrested for assault, or God forbid something worse. Someone could think my kids are being brought up that way. They’d see my child one day and beat them half to death while they are riding their bikes somewhere and I’d never know. This is what flashes through the mind of a parent when things like this happen. I’m not safe. My wife isn’t safe. My kids aren’t safe. I have to end this.
In short, I called my attorneys to figure out the easiest and quickest way to prevent this. In short, the less pages about me that exist that aren’t directly controlled by me, the easier it is to know when something like this happens.
I love the fact that people consider themselves fans. It’s a feeling everyone should experience, though I’d certainly choose to have a better reason for fan-hood if I had the choice. But more important that having fans, is having my family safe and my reputation protected, both for personal and work-related reasons. I just absolutely can’t afford the risk of people saying something they think I’d endorse, pretending to be me, or pretending to speak on my behalf. It’s not safe and it’s not doing me any favors. So, I’m sorry to anyone who’s feelings get hurt, but I can’t let it continue.
Staying in Touch With People
If you are a “fan” then I’m honored beyond words, though I don’t think I’ve done anything to deserve your accolades, really. I’m just a normal dude who got his face plastered all over television one day. And sometimes it comes with more negatives than it does positives, ya know?
Anyway, if you’d like to stay in touch with me, you can do it a number of ways. I’m incredibly easy to find on Facebook, Twitter, or here on the 8minutesoffame.com web site. Those are about the best ways to reach me. You can email me if you’d like, though responding to emails sometimes is harder than on Facebook or Twitter. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reporting Pages, Web Sites, or Other Identity Infringements
If you know of a web site that needs to be taken down, or a Facebook page that needs to come down, the easiest way to let me know is to send an email to email@example.com. I’ll get it pretty quick and get started on addressing the problem.
If it’s a Facebook page you can always use the “Report” feature on the page as well.
A final word on Identity Theft and Copyright
Thanks to the DMCA years ago, copyright protection is already pretty easy to handle. Identity theft isn’t as clear to people. To be guilty of identity theft someone doesn’t have to assume your identity and then commit a crime. Just attempting to pretend to be someone else falls well within the legal definition of identity theft, and it’s a crime at the federal level. It’s also a felony within each state, so it can be prosecuted either way, or sometimes both.
In North Carolina (where I live) it’s a class G felony, but becomes a class F felony if the victim were to get arrested or detained as a result of it. It’s also subject to restitution per Article 81C of Chapter 15A of our General Statutes. Whether or not the perpetrator lives in NC doesn’t matter. I do, so it falls under our jurisdiction to prosecute on a state level, even after a federal case is enacted.
One thing George Bush DID do right was sign into effect the Identity Theft Penalty Act, which makes the penalties on a federal level much nastier, often resulting in $100,000 fines and a minimum ten years in federal prison.
As far as copyright is concerned, on ALL of my websites, as well as my Facebook page, my copyright claim is laid out pretty clearly. In short copyright protection extends to include
- Any media I’ve ever uploaded, per the DMCA, which means anything I write, any picture I post, or any video I upload, and any portions thereof.
That’s not just applicable to me. It’s the same protection afforded everyone in this digital age. Most people just aren’t aware of it. The mere act of publishing this blog post, under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, means it’s copyrighted the moment it hits the web.
So yes, in case this doesn’t spell it out clearly, using a person’s face, stealing their photos, or even quoting their written passages en-masse, are copyright violations. Anything someone puts on the web can be LINKED to without infringement because you’re taking the viewer/reader back to the source, but actually copying the material without express written permission is a crime.
Specifically, there IS a federal copyright filed, so every still image taken from the video(s) falls under the legal definition of misappropriating the likeness because it’s a derivative work.
Do I dislike all the fan pages?
Of course not. That’s crazy. However, again, this comes down to advice from my legal team. It’s all about the “what-if” scenarios and protecting myself against the worst-case scenarios. If I were to agree to let sites A, B, and C use my images, posts, videos, or whatever and then try to file suit against the guy who posted those pictures above, the defense could argue that I’ve given express permission by failure to oppose, and therefore I can’t choose who I do and don’t try to take down.
Their argument is simply “If it’s ok for them, then it’s ok for us too, judge.” You and I would probably think that’s a stupid argument, but it’s one that would work. So in order to take down the ones that REALLY DO mean my family harm, I have to unilaterally attempt to shut down the others as well.
To those who say “Give up”
I’ve had criticism from some on Facebook and other places who encourage me to “Just give up. You can’t possibly win this.” Well guys, I don’t agree. We, as a people, have decided to give up on a lot of stuff in the last few years. Our kids, our rights, our legal protections, etc. I generally don’t make it a habit of letting that kind of thing go, and neither should you. One of my beliefs is that if you don’t exercise a right or a freedom often, then you don’t notice when they take it away from you.
I wear a sidearm most everywhere I go, because it’s my right to do so. I tell people who ask my religious beliefs, because thankfully in this country, it’s still my right to do so. And now I’m trying to protect my copyright and my reputation for the sake of my families safety because… it’s my right to do so. Some won’t like it and some will claim I’m doing it for monetary gain or some other nonsense. These are the same people who think I’m rich or think it was all a hoax, so I’m not concerned with them anyway, really. Most months I barely get the bills paid and NO ONE would put themselves through all this for a hoax. Trust me. I’ve been there.
So, at the end of the day, I have to say Thanks to all of you who really do support me and my family through all this. I just have to also ask that you show your support through the proper means. Stealing my pictures, videos, and even mass-copying my blog posts isn’t the way to do it. If you’d like to link to anything I’ve uploaded, please feel free to do it. And share it with me. I love to read the blogs and posts from other people. Just don’t misappropriate the content illegally. Ok?
Those who stand for nothing, fall for anything. – Alexander Hamilton. 1978