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In Which I Partially Eat My Hat (Crunch, Crunch)

BY Micah L. Sifry | Sunday, December 23 2007

OK, so I've now heard from a bunch of friends, including several wiser and cooler heads with many years of experience in the trenches, and they've convinced me that I overstated things in my previous post attacking TechCrunch.

I am not looking to score legal points against TechCrunch for referring to its primary as a "Tech President Primary" and its coming endorsement as a "Tech President Endorsement." Clearly, even though we have established a brand in the TechPresident name, and won a bunch of accolades for our work, lots of people can use the generic phrase "tech president" as in a president who cares about or "gets" technology issues. And frankly, it's a good thing if there's some more competition stirred up to earn that moniker. Thank you unnamed experts for schooling me better on the nuances of copyright and trademark law.

That said, the basic issue for us is our concern that TechCrunch may be inadvertently stirring up confusion as to whether our nonpartisan blog, TechPresident.com, is holding a primary or endorsing a candidate. To be clear, the purpose of my first email to Michael Arrington was to politely, I thought, ask him to make a clarification to this end. When we didn't hear anything back, and saw an additional subsequent post, we decided that we had no choice but to make our concerns public.

If by using the phrase "identity theft" I insulted TechCrunch or Michael Arrington, I apologize. I meant the phrase as a metaphor, not a formal legal accusation. It's how it feels when you see someone else seemingly using your name and encroaching on your beat--without attribution or acknowledgment.

As for whether there is a copyright or trademark violation, I am honestly not interested in the legal interpretation so much as I'm interested in seeing people do the right thing. Several experts have convinced me that the legal argument is murky at best over whether or not TechPresident is a copyrightable term, or a meaningful trademark. Fine, I withdraw my complaints against TechCrunch violating copyright or trademark.

What I still am concerned with is plain old public confusion. The simple and decent thing for TechCrunch to do is to post some kind of disclaimer, in the relevant places, making clear that its Tech President Primary and Endorsement are not connected to this blog. Then we can both go back to doing what is far more important, which is getting the political system to pay more attention to our common issues.

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

First POST: Blogrolling

How Canada spies on its citizens' web behavior; with uber-blogger Andrew Sullivan quitting the field, whither political blogs; how big data is helping prevent homelessness in NYC; and much, much more. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Jargon Busters

Changes in the RNC's tech team; big plans for digital democracy in the UK; how people in Cuba are making their own private Internet; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Stalking

How the DEA tracks millions of America motorists; will the Senate enter the 21st century?; Obama veteran Jeremy Bird's role in the upcoming Israeli election; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Video Stars

How the White House hit a home run on YouTube post-State of the Union; why the Barrett Brown sentencing casts a chill on online security research; how media producers use Crowdtangle to optimize their Facebook audiences; and much, much more. GO

friday >

First POST: Moneyballed

The Gates Foundation's new "global citizens" email database, and why it's a terrible idea; why young people like the NSA more than older people; using open data about NYC taxi drivers to ID Muslims; and much, much more. GO

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