Legal Commentary Page 1
Frankly, I have to park this idea in the Who the Heck Cares Department.
I'm just making this public so you who have supported the Sony eBook publication, and Sony of Canada, who purchased many of them to give away with the cameras, an unambiguous view of how this issue is going. Thanks to John C. Dvorak for suggesting that this letter in its entirety be divulged publicly to the digital photographic community.
Here was the first shot across our bow to attempt to get us to stop using the Sony name in our Internet site--ostensibly because the four letters in a row S, O, N and Y are theirs alone, in their opinion and any other organization that uses them is in violation of their trademark.
Our position is that this site has always been about, and in support of certain Sony products and that we have continuously endeavored to demonstrate reviews, personal opinions and publications about some of their products, all while using the Sony name not to make you, the reader, think this site is a product of Sony but to unambiguously refer you to the products about which we have an opinion.
Our opinion of Sony has undergone some recent changes, as you might well imagine.
Letter #1: (Commentary follows below)
Bold references A and B are added by me to point to relevant paragraphs that are completely and entirely erroneous.
Much of this letter is presumably factual. A and B paragraphs are fictions dreamed up by Ned and crew to try to further their cause.
A: We registered this in 2002 and informed Sony executives in the USA of that fact at the time. It has never been a hidden idea, nor have we ever intentionally kept the information from Sony. We have sold and given thousands of our Sony eBooks to the Sony USA PR department and to departments within Sony USA and Sony Canada for years.
No, we don't use ITSSONY.COM to sell any cameras, camcorders, video accessories and/or PDAs. We use it to sell one thing: OUR eBook. A publication. A product fully covered by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States Of America.
We have used the site, however, to freely reference Sony's making these cameras, camcorders, video accessories and PDAs for a reader's consideration by commenting on their existence and or value in our opinion.
We have never sold any of these sorts of products at all. I'm an Author. I write books. Books in electronic form that deal with specific products, some of which are made by Sony. My publications clearly state that they are not Sony products and that the content of them are entirely my own independent creation.
B: I have never used Sony's name in any way to suggest that customers should buy my products because they are from, or affiliated with Sony in any way, shape or form. I can't imagine that the legal team making this claim have ever actually read this site through or obtained my Sony Advanced Cyber-shot eBook and digested it for content.
If anything, it is should be clear from the content of this site that here is a place to get a completely independent, non-Sony view of Sony products as discussed in a free-flowing review, opinion and eBook format.
Its Sony. The topic here is Sony. The topic of the eBook is Sony. I write about Sony. It's one of the fundamental freedoms in the legal system of the country in which I was born. I hope you understand and respect that. Failure to respect the fundamental freedoms of speech and the press would trigger much more serious consequences.
Indeed, we acquired the URL to direct people to this site so they could find out things about Sony in particular that are NOT the factory-authorized opinions, reviews and publications. Anyone with a brain comes here to discover an independent view explaining certain Sony product use and how they can benefit from knowing things about the products that Sony either doesn't want the consumer to know or Sony themselves don't know. The sole purpose of our products is information. How to get more from the Sony products you may have already bought, or are considering buying.
I make eBooks that teach. They destroy misconceptions. They elevate the purchaser into a zone of higher appreciation of the function and use of the products that they discuss. Readers have sent me numerous letters of thanks because my eBooks have been of such great value to them. One customer even claimed that the eBook in his hand DOUBLED THE VALUE OF THE DIGITAL CAMERA HE PURCHASED.
I don't know of a way to say that you can use a Sony product in an expanded manner without mentioning that product BY NAME. To assume that there is an intent to mislead potential customers into purchasing a specially prepared product that is designed from the ground up to rid its purchaser from misleading preconceptions is ludicrous.
The URL ITSSONY.COM is intended to convey in the shortest possible way that THE DISCUSSION HERE IS SONY and that was the intent from the beginning. Page one of this site includes --and always has-- "It is important to note that this site is not affiliated with Sony, Sony Corporation, Sony Style or Sony USA." Get it? A reasonable man would. Lawyers often make claims that a reasonable man would call rubbish. I take the view that this is the case here because I'm the one who purchased and implemented the URL before the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act ever existed. You can't be accused of breaking a law that didn't exist when you acted to establish a connective link to a site that is about Sony. Ex post facto* laws are not allowed in the USA.
But even ex post facto isn't the main issue. Intent was to direct people to views about Sony.
Reviews on this site are written from the experienced photographer/reviewer perspective. Some sites do numerical testing of cameras and discuss the equipment in terms of science. I take the view that cameras are part of a creative process and my evaluations of them come from the point of view that shooting pictures tells you more about a piece of gear than defining it in terms of numbers. In my reviews I find fault and shortcomings with equipment, but I also suggest work-arounds and tips to avoid pitfalls. Whereas DPReview or ImagingResource might just point to a characteristic as a negative factor, my articles, reviews and eBooks teach camera owners how to get much more out specific models and brands of digital photography equipment.
We have even seen instances of Sony's tech repair staff using our eBook materials in the process of evaluating camera repairs. Customers have received repaired cameras with OUR copyrighted test graphics ON THE MEMORY CARD of the returned camera. Should I sue Sony? What do you think, gang? Write me--or send money for the legal defense fund--at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We may have to expand on these pages, because more letters have flown. But the initial letter above makes two HUGE errors of fact. Their premise is screwed up.
What did they tell you in Logic Class?
If the premise is screwed up, everything that flows from it is screwed up. You can't start a legal argument by instigating a challenge with a false premise.
Sony: Your premise is screwed up. You are harassing me and threatening my freedoms of speech and press. Stop it!
© 2006 Peter iNova. All rights reserved.*Ex post facto is most typically used to refer to a law that applies retroactively, thereby criminalizing conduct that was legal when originally performed.