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Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Thief

Using words or graphics from another site without attribution and/or link back to the original is wrong. In the case of copyright material, permission is generally required for use (except in the case of fair use). If you have a small readership at your web site; no one will likely notice if you are not crediting your sources properly. The more readers you have the greater the scrutiny there will be on your sourcing.

At Wizbang we mind our P's and Q's, as best we can. There is a DCMA Compliance Notice on every page with a process to report copyright violations. I expect to be credited (actually I demand to be credited) when my words, ideas, stories or images are used elsewhere so it would be supremely hypocritical of me to not credit the sources I use in editing Wizbang.

Which brings me to the case of professional media personality Rush Limbaugh. It seems that Rush, 800 lb. media gorilla that he is, has decided it is OK to steal Natalie Drest's work at Jessica's Well. Take a look at Rush's version - noting that the graphic from Jessica's Well was two different pieces of the magazine combined into a new original graphic. Whether you are a Limbaugh fan or not you would be hard pressed to defend his uncredited theft of Natalie's material.

It's time to lay the smack down on Rush for his unethical actions.

Act Now!

Start flooding Limbaugh via e-mail. It's easy, as I've already started your message if you click here.

Keep The Pressure On!

Call The Rush Limbaugh Show program line starting Monday between 12 Noon and 3PM Eastern Time at: 1-800-282-2882. They're going to get sick of this theft or lack of source citations story in a hurry, so make sure you disguise your intent. Choose another topic to make it past the screener, then hit the theft topic if you make it on the air.

You've got your marching orders!

Update: Steven Taylor notes that this is not the first time the Limbaugh web team has taken material from blogs and then failed to credit the blog.

The Commissar has a term for this - blagiarizing.

Update 2: Steven points out that the Limbaugh web team did not actually take his material, they weren't doing their homework. Unlike the EIB web team, I will adjust my postings when a factual error is pointed out. I stand corrected.

As Natalie points out it's not about credit for Jessica's Well (the Life series was widely link and Instalanched) it's about giving credit to your sources. Would bloggers be pissed if it was Al Franken, The New York Times, or The Wall Street Journal appropriating the work of bloggers without giving credit ? You bet your ass.

There are some who say, "you're just bloggers, not journalists" - but when bloggers do original reporting they become citizen journalists, just like the guy with a video camera who taped the Rodney King beating or thousands of others who have (due to desire or circumstances) found themselves as the only "reporter" on the scene and captured the story. The fact that they don't have the means to get the story into wide media circulation does not exclude their work from being considered original reporting.

If you would like to see a news organization taking feedback from a blogger seriously, go see the Tim Blair/Chicago Tribune story. The Excellence In Broadcasting network could learn a thing or two from Tribune Ombudsmen Don Wycliff.

Update 3: Susanna Cornett reports an interesting development with regards to Rush Limbaugh and bloggers. Presumably it is from the Monday (June 7, 2004) show, but she doesn't specifically give the air date.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Thief:

» The Politburo Diktat linked with EIB - Excellence in Blagiarizing

» In Search of Utopia linked with Rush, Stealing Other People's Material, Say it Ain

» Outside the Beltway linked with Limbaugh Stealing from Blogs?

» Jessica's Well linked with LOOKING FOR THAT 16TH MINUTE!

Comments (20)

I deal with copyright issue... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

I deal with copyright issues at my job quite often, and while it is scummy of Limbaugh to steal Jessica's graphic, the actual legal issues are muddy. (Disclaimer: I Am Not A Lawyer. This legal opinion is worth substantially less than it is being paid for. In fact, I probably should be paying you to read my legal opinion, but that ain't happening.)

The original graphic is owned by AOL Time Warner (being the successor to Time Warner, which followed Time/Life, which followed Life). Life magazine is their property, and while it may be used within the boundaries of "fair use" by others, such as Natalie, it is my understanding that she doesn't gain any rights to her particular adaptation of another's work, as this would diminish the rights of Time Warner.

Legalities aside, Rush is scum for having done it. I've had nothing but contempt for Limbaugh since his not-quite-short enough TV career in the early 90's, when he did a bit where he announced that the Clintons were looking to appeal to the American people by adding an official White House dog to go along with Socks, the cat.

Then he flashed a picture of a then 13- or 14-year-old Chelsea Clinton on the screen.

So, a man who once thought it was perfectly fine to mock the appearance of a teenage girl because he didn't like her parents is now stealing ideas and graphics from others without attributing it? What a great surprise. Simple decency and an honest, honorable character would REQUIRE Limbaugh to attribute the graphic and notion to Natalie, if that is indeed where it came from originally.

I hate to defend Limbaugh, but I suspect that the story and the graphic have been making their way around the internet ever since Natalie first posted it, and it finally made it to his attention through several intermediaries. But if Limbaugh were the decent sort, he'd give credit to Natalie either on the air or on his site.

But I'm not holding my breath.


to expand on what Jay Tea d... (Below threshold)

to expand on what Jay Tea describes above, I'd add the following:

Interestingly enough, it's not a copyright violation not to cite your sources in the U.S.

In other parts of the world, it is a violation (like in france, where the idea came from). It's called the Moral Law or Moral Code (le droit moral, as the french term is IIRC) and it includes the right to attribution and the right to "integrity," which means someone can't change the meaning of your work without your permission.

U.S. copyright has very weak protection for giving credit where credit is due.

Not that I'm saying this is *right*, mind you. And if you do not cite your sources in academia, for instance, there are stiff academic penalties, but it's not a copyright violation unless they lifted a word-for-word transcription or used copyrighted images.

One final question, Kevin: ... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

One final question, Kevin: does that mean that you own the rights to everything published on this page, including the postings of us guest posters?

I hadn't really thought it through before, and quite frankly blipped over the copyright notice like 99.9% of the rest of the world, but I guess our work on this site could be analogous to "work for hire," and therefore your property.

If that's the case, some day I might want to open negotiations for the rights to some of my works...

In the meantime, though, I'll keep tossing stuff up until you take away my keys to the joint.


Then he flashed a pictur... (Below threshold)

Then he flashed a picture of a then 13- or 14-year-old Chelsea Clinton on the screen.


"He" did it? I distinctly recall his reaction when it happened, Jay. He was not pleased about it as you might expect if it was his idea.

I get sick and tired of seeing this continue to crop up as though the Clintonista spin on the incident were gospel.

Yeah, McGeHee, I remember i... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Yeah, McGeHee, I remember it vividly. He was chagrined and regretful at the time.

But two one things:

1) He set up the photo. I don't recall the EXACT words, but this is a very accurate paraphrase.

"Recent studies have shown that the American people greatly prefer dogs to cats. In their neverending attempts to pander to the American people, the Clintons are getting a dog to go along with Socks, the White House Cat. Ladies and gentlemen, we have the first, exclusive pictures of the new official White House dog."

Cue Chelsea.

The second point, and this is the killer. The show wasn't live.

Let's say that Limbaugh was set up by his staff. They gave him the copy to read without telling him what the picture would show. If he didn't like it, if he didn't approve it, he could have cut it. There is no way in hell that could have made it on the air without his active approval.

I'm no Clintonista, by any stretch of the imagination. I once had the chance to shake his hand while he was campaigning in New Hampshire, and am proud of snubbing the scumbag. But people's kids should be off limits, and Limbaugh is as much a scumbag as Clinton is.


If I take a print of the Mo... (Below threshold)

If I take a print of the Mona Lisa and draw mustache on it, does that make it 100% my original work then? I don't think it does. Now, as others have said, it may not be right, but I don't think it was illegal.

McGeHee, I need to partly a... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

McGeHee, I need to partly apologize. I went Googling, and found a transcript of the incident here. I'm going to give it the presumption of accuracy over my own failing memory; I would have sworn there was something about "pandering" by the Clintons in there, but possibly not.

Reading it over, I see my first argument (the setup) is easily reputed. But as for the second one: I don't care HOW damn busy Limbaugh was. Whether by accident or design, he was calling a 13-year-old girl a dog on nationally syndicated television. He had a responsibility to prevent this "error" from going out, and he ducked it.

McGeHee, I'll give Limbaugh the benefit of the doubt and say it wasn't intentional. But not fixing it was reprehensible. We might argue about the relative scumminess of either interpretation, but I think the actual scum content is indisputable.


Aaron I purposely stuck to ... (Below threshold)

Aaron I purposely stuck to the ethical and moral arguments against Limbaugh's action not the legal, because as others have pointed out there's probably nothing illegal about what he did.

Exactly, Kevin. If the best... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Exactly, Kevin. If the best defense someone can muster for their actions is "well, it isn't illegal," then you can pretty much assume that it's unethical, immoral, or in some other way wrong.


I appreciate the back up on... (Below threshold)

I appreciate the back up on this...but for what it is worth my whole aim here is to keep the blogosphere from getting revised out of the uncovering of the article.

My site is full of graphics that aren't mine and are not unattributed.

He can use the graphic all he wants because I am not sure I own it..the only reason I mentioned the graphic is because it proved that they did not arrive at that Life Article independently from me.

I just want the credit to go to the blogosphere.

Oh, yeah, and a nickel from every one of his listeners.

Kevin is CORRECT. Rush can... (Below threshold)

Kevin is CORRECT. Rush can't be excused because "well it isn't illegal." There are huge controversies all the time about ETHICS. I am in writing as well as show biz and these two issues often come up. Plargiarism isn't always illegal but it's ethical. It was so bad it was a key factor in sinking Joe Biden's prez campaign a few years ago. And I knew many professors who were fanatics about weeding it out.

IN comedy, it SHOULD matter if you're watching someone famous who you later learned lifted almost a whole routine from someone less famous. Yes, the famous guy is funny doing it. But it shows a lack in his own moral compass.

Basically, I would bet that Rush didn't know about this item since his website is almost certainly done by some key staffers who do nothing but that. They felt they could just simply lift and harvest someone else's work and to them, I am sure, a blogger who isn't famous is a nobody so a)who cares, b)and if they complain the attitude is "so sue me."

I had an experience some years ago. I bought some jokes from a comedy writer who had pitched them to a comedian who was known mostly for his family. I bought them and put in the copyright notice. I almost immediately realized these jokes sucked and only used them once but was going to revamp them. The writer called me all upset saying the other guy now wanted them, she told them they had been sold and he told her:"Tough s-- I'm going on HBO with them. Let him sue me."

I never used these jokes and that guy's career didn't take off. But I KNOW he is sleazy and lacks ETHICS. And in this case I COULD have sued since I had the copyright notice.

This is NOT a left or right issue.

OH: for anyone getting all upset over Kevin's using the "Fat" quote in his title. I did an item on Dean's World (I'm guest blogging and don't return to original posts on my own blog until tomorrow) yesterday and had some fun with it only (satirically) taking issue with the use of the word "FAT" in that sentence.

Since I don't belong to either party, I always applaud someone who takes a stand on an ETHICAL issue regardless of who is being criticized. We try to teach this to our kids and if we don't demand it of adults we might as well skip the sanctamonious lectures at home and in school assemblies and let them do what they want (as adults often do).

I'm with Natalie; the issue... (Below threshold)

I'm with Natalie; the issue is credit for blogs in general, and some traffic (or something) for her.

I prefaced Kevin's excellent email with, "I'm a Conservative and a Dittohead, but am outraged ..."

Right on Kevin...... (Below threshold)

Right on Kevin...

Re: Is this a "Left vs. Rig... (Below threshold)

Re: Is this a "Left vs. Right" issue.

If we good Conservatives hammer Rush Limabaugh on this, that's a powerful statement of integrity and intellectual honesty, (on our part, not his).

A clarification: I was not... (Below threshold)

A clarification: I was not the victim of anything in re: Limbaugh. My experience was different, and brought it as an illustration of the fact that Limbaugh's web team is not necessarily doing its homework.

Please see my comments at PoliBlog by way of clarification: http://www.poliblogger.com/poliblog/archives/003817.html

I don't see anyone defendin... (Below threshold)

I don't see anyone defending Limbaugh by using the "it's not illegal line" but that's what they're being accused of nonetheless.

I guess they shouldn't have pointed that out even if they were still going to say it wasn't right or didn't excuse it.

One we finish with Rush can... (Below threshold)

One we finish with Rush can we pile on some of the left wing appeasers like Lou Dobbs, the LA Times, or MSNBC and try to bring some truth and perspective into the main stream media?

It was during today's show,... (Below threshold)

It was during today's show, June 7. Just to clarify! I'll update on my own site.

Jay, your version of events... (Below threshold)

Jay, your version of events is false.

Transcript from lexis-nexis (Rush was doing a segment on In/Out lists. NOT a "bit on where heannounced that the Clintons were looking to appeal to the American people by adding an official White House dog to go along with Socks, the cat." )

Copyright 1992 Multimedia Entertainment, Inc.
November 6, 1992, Friday 11:15 AM

LIMBAUGH: Thank you. This show's era of dominant influence is just beginning. We are now the sole voice of sanity, the sole voice of reason. We are the sole voice of opposition on all television. This is the only place you can tune to to get the truth of the opposition of the one-party dictatorial government that now will soon run America. Oh, I mean, we are only beginning to enjoy dominance and prosperity. Most of these things on the in-out list are not even funny, but a couple of them--one of them in particular is.

David Hinckley of--of the New York Daily News wrote this, and what he has--he's got--it's very strange. He says, In: A cute kid in the White House. Out: Cute dog in the White House.' Could--could we see the cute kid? Let's take a look at--see who is the cute kid in the White House.

(A picture is shown of Millie the dog)

LIMBAUGH: (Voiceover) No, no, no. That's not the kid.

(Picture shown of Chelsea Clinton)

LIMBAUGH: (Voiceover) That's--that's the kid. We're trying to...


Yes, it was a mistake, and yes, he profusely apologized on htis show and a few more subsequent shows.

Some scumbag is trying to w... (Below threshold)
Jim Ausman:

Some scumbag is trying to whitewash the truth by posting that bogus "Nexis-Lexis" quote all over the blogsphere.

It is amazing to me that these Right Wing trash will stop at nothing to try and rewrite history to make their guy look better.

I know Rush did it and I know it happened exactly as quoted above: I saw it with my own eyes.

You are nothing but scum for lying about this.






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