Saturday, June 26, 2010

Legal Advice Not to be Taken

I wonder if I should copyright my blog. I see a lot of little copyright messages or logos which presumably forbids nefarious people from stealing what you write and selling it at the local bazaar. It would seem that there is some sort of implied copyright that would work though. If you abscond with something that I wrote and sold it to a magazine for $14,000, my first reaction would be: 'Holy crap! $14,000? How did you do that?' But then I would think that I could prove that I wrote it because blog posts are date stamped so I could threaten the thief and maybe he would settle with giving me half and work out a deal that he always pays me half for stealing. That might be easier than figuring out what works legally and I am not sure what really works legally because it seems that every copyright message that I see is different. If you are a lawyer and decide to advise me, keep your comment to fifteen words or less or my eyes will start glazing over.

You see, I have experience with the law. When I was nineteen I got a speeding ticket in San Antonio and went to court and pleaded 'Nolo Contendre' and the judge laughed but I got off. My argument was that I was speeding but not near as fast as the cop said and presented Polaroid pictures and distance measurements explaining I could not have stopped as quick as I did going at the speed that was on the ticket. The Judge looked down at me over his reading glasses and shook his head and waved his hand and I found out that meant the ticket was dismissed. I had saw Nolo Contendre on Perry Mason and I thought it was a pretty good plea.

Oh, don't take legal advice from me.

I was once accused of stealing a gold plated trumpet and had to appear before a Grand Jury. I think I was sixteen at the time. I entered that room and there was a bunch of people sitting around and I was wearing a dark blue suit with a thin tie which was the style at that time and a guy, I guess from the District Attorney's office, asked me if I stole the trumpet. When I told him no and asked why anyone thought that he muttered that the accuser dreamed that I did and in his dream I hid it under the stairs at my parents house. My legal response was, "Huh?" Then I offered for everyone to come to the house and look under the stairs. They told me to leave and called the accuser in and after fifteen minutes the case was dropped.

Don't take legal advice from me and I'm not sure that "Huh?" is an ironclad defense.

Today they call it NCIS but when I was in the Navy it was called something else and they investigated me. At the time I was stationed in Newfoundland and I was giving the Admiral's son drum lessons at the Admiral's house and it seems that I was apparently the last person in the presence of the Admiral's son's Pea Coat. I'm not sure why they aren't replaying this case on the TV show NCIS with Mark Harmon tenaciously pursing me, the arch criminal. There was this top secret investigator that had flown in from some place where he was chasing spies and blowing up submarines and he was on his way to his home base. When an investigator is on site they have to inform the Shore Patrol (the local cops) of their presence and while there everyone was amused because they had been assigned the case of the missing Pea Coat but because it was the Admiral's son our intrepid investigator said he would handle it which is why everyone was stunned and shocked when the investigator walked in wearing bluejeans during band practice and flashed his ID to the Company Commander and asked to speak with me.

Contrary to what you see on James Bond the best way to get information is to make people like you. I sat down with The Investigator in the Company Commander's office and I found him to be a nice guy and he said he had just arrived from Greece and asked me how I liked performing in a Navy Tour Band and within fifteen minutes I was telling him my life story and he hung on every word like it was the most exciting thing in the world. Then I asked him what this was all about and he asked where I was at a certain time and I told him that I was giving the Admiral's son a drum lesson and that the kid would never make it because he was lazy and wouldn't practice and The Investigator asked how I got access to the Admiral's house and I explained that had to do with standing attention while peeing (which is another story which I may relate here if this entry needs filler) and The Investigator laughed and he casually asked if I remember seeing the Pea Coat and could I have picked it up by mistake thinking it was mine and I invoked my ironclad defense and said, "Huh?"

I was not convicted and got off easy probably because I didn't steal the coat. I'm glad this whole thing happened because The Investigator and I became friends and we would go out to eat every time he flew in. I never could find out his rank and he always wore civilian clothes and he said his rank was classified. This was because if he was investigating a Seaman or an Admiral they couldn't pull rank on him which I thought was pretty cool.

The legal defense of "Huh?" may not work every time -- so be forewarned.

So you can see I have vast legal experience except for the copyright thing and if I put my mind to it I could probably be a lawyer -- preferably a defense lawyer.


Since this entry is not my standard fourteen pages long (even with spelling out numbers instead of using numerals) I will elaborate on the Admiral thing.

In a previous entry I mentioned that I routinely performed at the Officers Club while stationed in Argentia, Newfoundland. One night I had to take a pee and the only place to do so was in the Officers Head (which is Navalese for Officers Bathroom). So I was standing casually in front of the urinal and up strolls the Admiral to the urinal beside me. He remarks, "You are the drummer?" I immediately snapped to attention in the middle of my, well peeing, and said, "Yessir!" He then asked to meet me outside.

I zipped my pants with a military snap, stood at attention in front of the sink and washed my hands militarily and exited the restroom and stood, in the splendor of gray slacks, blue blazer and funky tie, at parade rest. When the Admiral came out I snapped to attention. He asked me if I would consider giving his son drum lessons. "Sir. Yes sir." He then told me to come by his office on Monday around nine to discuss it. He then shook my hand.

I later went to see my Company Commander and told him that The Admiral wants me in his office at nine and I explained why and he rubbed the bridge of his nose like he tended to do when I was in his presence and he said that I had better be ship shape when I reported there.

I shined and polished and ironed until I look pristine and reported to headquarters and found the Admiral's office and walked in to the waiting room and all of the seats were filled by high ranking officers and I thought, 'Oh shit!'. I marched ramrod straight to the secretary's desk with every high-brass eye following my every move. I told the secretary that the Admiral wanted to see me at nine and I said 'Ma'am' three or four times. She smiled and said, "Oh yes, Jerry" and punched the intercom button and said, "Boss, Jerry is here to see you." He responded with "Bring him in, and rustle up some coffee for us" and I could feel eyes boring into my back but they must now be thinking that maybe I am on a secret mission and traveling incognito but I dared not turn around and look because I knew I would then start shaking.

I was escorted into The Office and The Boss rose and shook my hand and pointed to a sofa and we sat down together and the nice lady poured us some coffee in little cups on little saucers and then she left. The Admiral said this is a private discussion like between civilians and asked again if I would consider giving his son drum lessons and I said "Yessir" not like a civilian and then he asked me how much I would charge. I somehow stumbled on $17.00 per hour which was pretty good pay at that time and he said that sounded reasonable and he asked me to come by his house at 7:00 pm the next night for dinner and to meet and talk with his son. We stood, shook hands and I left his office and paraded in front of all those senior officers with, I couldn't help it, a smirk on my face.

I nervously went to his house and was admitted by a butler and they were trying to be relaxed and I made sure I only ate a little bit and tried to smile a lot and nod knowingly and didn't spill anything and then sat with his son in his room and we agreed on once a week lessons. That is all there is to it.

Except that after a month's worth of lessons I hadn't been paid. I sat down with Company Commander and explained the situation to him and he rubbed the bridge of his nose furiously. We came upon the idea that I should send the Admiral a memo. Then the question was how could I write the admiral without copying everyone in the chain of command from me to the admiral which would be about a thousand people and then we decided that since this was personal and not Navy business I could do it directly and probably not go to the brig. We drafted and redrafted and redrafted the memo until we got it just right with no misspelled words or anything and sent it. The next day a courier hand delivered an envelope to me with a personal check in it.

FILLER complete. Blog entry over.


  1. Sounds as if you'd make a fine lawyer - I'll call you next time I need one!

    There's reason for those copyright things - can't remember it off the top of my head. But it can't hurt to have...and people will steal your stuff.

    Thanks for stopping by today. Stay far, far away from FaceBook!!! I'd delete my FaceBook account in a minute - except it's a great tool to keep an eye on that teenager of mine....

  2. "Huh?" I don't play with the copyright thing on blogs and stuff. Even my short story blog is public domain. Not worth the hassle.

    My novel, of course, will be another issue. Not yet published, so it doesn't yet matter.

    I like Facebook. It lets me stay in touch with people. I have reconnected with friends from long ago, and have been able to maintain contact with my former coworkers since my retirement. It's fun, as long as you don't act like an idiot.

    Great entry, as usual.


  3. Jerry, I was never in the Navy or even the Coast Guard but once upon a time...when I lived in North Dakota...I had a pea coat. I loved it because it gets cold in North Dakota for about 11 months of the year. But then I got another job and moved to Indianapolis. When I got there I discovered I no longer had my pea coat. (This may have had something to do with a girl or two I had to "say goodbye" to in the last week before I left North Dakota but I never found out.) I still wish I had that pea coat but since I now live in Arizona and it is 87 degrees today, I don't suppose I need it.

    By the way, that was another great post!

  4. This has nothing to do with the content of this post, though it was, as usual, a great post. And I have wondered about the copywrite thing, too. But as I was reading this, I realized that I give bloggers a 'voice' when reading to myself. For some reason, I have no clue why, when I read your posts, I use the voice of that guy that does the motel commercials - Tom Bodett or something like that? You know, one of those voices that you hear and know immediately who it is? Something about the cadence, maybe, of your sentence structure? Someone else I read, I use or hear the voice of Lewis Grizzard, and a woman blogger might be Lucille Ball. See what I mean? I don't do this consciously, but do find myself doing that. Like I said, that has nothing to do with this post! Gosh, I sound a little bit crazy, don't I!

  5. The problem with copyright enforcement is that YOU have to be the one who does the enforcement. Being a filmmaker I have had my work copied and uploaded to YouTube. And even though it says right there in the upload window terms of service NOT to upload content that you don't own... some pimple-face kid is just going to ignore it and do what they want to do anyway. It's a royal pain in the ass. But if your work takes off and it's copied all over the place, you can forget about trying to clamp a lid on it - It ends up like the growing red spot in "The Cat and The Hat". (c) Dr. Seuss, 1957

  6. I have never thought about the copyright thing with the blog. I agree it would be too much trouble and I am married to a lawyer. However, he is a litigator and not an IP or patent attorney so he would not be much help in that way. However, I do relate t the "huh' defense...not from being accused by any other law enforcer but once again from being married to a lawyer. They have a way of bringing home those necessary skills required for work and employing them at home. After 22 years of marriage I think I have progressed from the "huh' stage to "how dare you" stage. Great story as usual...I like the depth of detail you use. It is quite engaging.

  7. "Huh" or "No lo contendre" seem to cover all the angles...

    By the way, incredible, inspiring aplomb displayed with the Admiral--not to mention the brass in the waiting room. You're a true man. I turn into a Grade-A weasel under such pressure. Maybe I should go into the military after all...

  8. Not a filler at all, just an interesting back story, which I enjoyed. And I'm hire you for my lawyer, just to hear you say 'huh' at the Old Bailey.

  9. Okay, mister. Seems to me that you've been in your fair share of pickles with the law over the years...although it never seems to be your fault.


    It presents as a serious case of denial, mixed with some kind of OCD-repetitive-response. I'm suggesting to the judge 50 hours of community service, where you can explain to kids where on legal forms they should type the word "Huh?" and how to spell "No lo contendre".

    Then we'll get you that book deal. You'll make millions....I'll split it with you.

  10. Good legal arguments,I'll have to bear these in mind just in case.

    I had thought about copyright, but from what I've read it's almost impossible to protect blog content so I haven't bothered. But I am going to put a notice up anyway, it might deter the honest!

    Thanks for visiting yesterday - I've enjoyed reading you.

  11. HUmmm...I suspected you had a shady past! This blog post confirms it! Oh, you got out of your share of pickles, but you got in your share as well!!

    Consider going to Zion National Park while you are in the Vegas area! It's a drive, but worth it!

  12. Dont worry 'bout no copy righin' . Aint nobobdy gonna steal this post.. lol,,(just fell out of my chair,, see? I do have sense of huumer),,lol.. Implied copy protection is there but dont take my word for it for serious writing..

  13. I agree I think the copyright does no more than keep the honest person honest.

    Now for the Pea Coat did it ever turn up? probably in the kids room Huh!!

  14. I put the copyright on my blog, right after hearing about another blogger getting her post copy and pasted on another persons blog. This theif tried to pull off that the work was hers and didn't give credit to the original author.

    I don't know exactly how it works, but hopefully just having it on my blog will deter someone from trying to steal.

    Loved all your close calls with the law and that back story was great!

  15. Oh Jerry...I have missed your blog. Things are started to "come together", around here, like one would corral a bunch of animals. I guess "contained" is a better description. GREAT POST, as usual. I think your humor and personality is the key ingredient to keeping you out of trouble. I enjoyed what Linda said about hearing different voices to various blogs. I would have to put a comedian voice to your blog, because you are so clever and funny...

    I too had a pea coat. Tell Catalyst I bought my used pea coat in an Army Surplus store in Long Beach Calif. Lots of sailors go in and buy and trade. That was witout a doubt the warmest jacket I ever had! I no longer have it, so I most likely out grew it. I was a much smaller size back then...

    I just LOVE the way you spin a story and if you won't take my suggestion of doing a daily post in a newspaper, then write a book. Talent like yours needs to be exposed. (No doubt you will have a funny retort to my comment...)

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  17. Hilarious and serious all wrapped up in gold! Attention while at a urinal??Visual distraction.So funny.And it happens in Newfoundland. In my town there are many jokes related to that local and that's an added bonus to your post.

  18. I noticed you didn't have anything about copywrite on your blog. So it's okay if I continue to cut and paste your stuff, right?
    Jerry? Right?

    Seriously, you had a bit of everything in this entry. A great piece of writing. I can use it, right?