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Herald cracks down on free speech

Written By: - Date published: 12:04 pm, May 6th, 2009 - 41 comments
Categories: blogs, Media - Tags:

Sick of the Herald? Try Editing the Herald instead.

With intelligence and wit, James lays out the daily journalistic disgraces of our beloved Granny and makes you laugh.

Granny doesn’t like it either. Can’t have people mocking you and pointing out your flaws on the internet! So they threatened him with legal action for using the Herald masthead as part of his blog’s banner. Today’s EtH post explains the whole thing and reproduces the email conversation (APN’s letter says “not for publication”. James says “oops”].


It’s quite something to see the legal counsel for a major national company threatening some guy over a small image on a blog. Whatever happened to the polite request to take it down? (like we got when we used the Police crest)

If only the Herald would show the same terrier instinct in its reporting as it has bullying James. Maybe then there would be no material for Editing the Herald.

41 comments on “Herald cracks down on free speech ”

  1. Editing the herald is brilliant. One of my favourite blogs.

  2. Quoth the Raven 2

    The Herald would ‘ve at least succeded in driving up his traffic with this.

  3. Pete M 4

    Hell yeah, watch the traffic rise 😉 Gotta love the Streisand Effect http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect

  4. the sprout 5

    great work James. in future, you are very welcome to use my Herald image instead:

    NZ Herald: Nobody Wants It

    email me if you want a high-res version.

    Tim Murphy really is proving to be quite an embarrassment for the Herald. Clumsy, slow, and well out of his depth – reminds me a bit of the MP for Waitakere in some ways. Hired for the same reasons Bennett was put in charge of DWI too I expect, a compliant sop after Ellis got tired of being APN’s axeman.

  5. Ahh free speech. I assume that applies here as well?

    Or does the Standard have rights that the NZH doesn’t?

    BTW when will you realise that the NZH is not the only source of news in NZ? I don’t get the fascination with the NZH particularly as you are trying to champion free speech. Surely the whole point of free speech is that the Herald can write what it likes within the limitations of the law and if you don’t like it, don’t buy it and don’t read it.

    • Pascal's bookie 6.1

      Or does the Standard have rights that the NZH doesn’t?

      What do you mean by that?

      I know what I think you mean, but it’s really fucking stupid, in a , “one of these things is totally not the same as the other, kind of like how apples are not like pre-revolution russian novels” kind of way.

    • lprent 6.2

      A confusing legal position that will force lawyers to use the processes on the network rather than relying on the biggest bucks and most persistence wins.

      But seriously the best idea is to simply e-mail me (see Contact-us at the top) if you’re really offended by something and make a case, it will be done. It has been done many times before here. We’ll do it if we think it is valid. Sometimes it gets a worse image or text update.

      So far we’ve told JK’s handlers to naff off (JK’s image is not a brand), changed a copy of the police logo to Cartman-as-a-policeman, removed the association of several people from their companies (who they didn’t want to be associated with any more), fixed images from several websites where there has been a dispute (usually with linking to the originating site), etc, etc…

      These are pretty much dealing with peoples feelings or simply correcting our incorrect facts, but mostly it is comments. We usually note them in the posts or comments. Of course mostly what we do is get rid of trolls which gets rid of most of the truly libelous stuff.

      What we don’t give into is people attempting to dispute our rights to express our opinions. That would require a lengthy procedure to do something about a site that costs less than $20/month to run – and where the consequences of starting the action would be a PR disaster.

    • felix 6.3

      Wtf are on about Dave? Has the Standard been threatening legal action against people using it’s trademarks? Must’ve missed that.

      Or are you drawing what I like to call a Dalean parallel? (after Brett of course).

      Oh and James, nice work and fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke.

  6. lprent 7

    Good blog – why haven’t I seen it before? Umm not on the blog roll. Ok added under Journo blogs.

    It would have been interesting for the APN to try to do anything to them. The site is on blogspot.com and passes out through the NZ global gateway to arrive at in Mountain View California. The legal position is a bit tangled, but I suspect that they’d have to do something in California – that is where the site is ‘published’. In practice, they would have just complained to abuse at blogspot who would have talked to EtH.

    I must have a look at the blogroll – it needs updating again…

  7. The Baron 8

    Seems to me like the Herald is cracking down on trademarkinfringement, rather than free speech…

    I reckon there would be howls of horror from you lot if someone set up a pisstake labour/green website that actually included their logos, no?

    • felix 8.1

      Editing The Herald didn’t actually use their logo though, it used the same font and included the words “the herald” which may or may not be close enough to a trademark infringement to deter most people from a costly court hearing.

      I suspect that somehow the NZ Herald are more concerned about the content of the blog than the font though. A quick mental litmus test is to imagine a blog was set up which actively praised the Herald’s journalism and integrity every day. This blog is called, perhaps, “Good On The Herald” and uses the same font. Can you imagine the NZ Herald making the same demands?

  8. Eddie 9

    Umm, they do already.

    Look of course it’s a breach of trademark but that doesn’t mean Granny had to get her knickers in a twist and start issuing threats.

    • The Baron 9.1

      Oh now OF COURSE its about a breach of trademark. That wouldn’t make such a sensational headline though would it, Eddie. Trampling on free speech sounds so much better – who cares if its inaccurate! Who cares if I am doing exactly the same sort of crappy commentary that I accuse the Herald of, ad nausem, eh Eddie!

      Oh yes, and arguing for your legal rights is sooooo anal – knickers in a twist alright! Wow, even though they have spent heaps of time and money building a brand that hundreds of thousands of people recognise, why should they not let some pissant left wing blogger have a laff by infringing on it to attack their material! SILLY!


      What about all those workers, and you lot, who are “getting their knickers in a twist” about “hire and fire”? Why is it ok for them to defend their rights but not the Herald?

      Ooooh thats right, I forgot. We hate business at the Herald, don’t we – despite the fact that such businesses employ all those workers and pay all those taxes that keep your engine of redistribution running.

      You’re a sensationalist, hypocritical hack, Eddie. Back to the press room with you.

      • felix 9.1.1

        See my comment above.

      • Eddie 9.1.2

        “Ooooh thats right, I forgot. We hate business at the Herald, don’t we” do they?

        No-one, including the writer of EtH, denied it was a breach of trademark (bothered to read the post?).. a minor, inconsquential breach of trademark that wasn’t done by a profit-making operation but by some guy using an imitation of their masthead on his blog.

        You understand the difference between that and workers standing up for their livelihoods so drop the ranting.

      • lprent 9.1.3

        I think that the point really is – why did they bother to use a lawyer? A simple request would have done the job pretty easily. Then they wouldn’t have had anything more than a simple explanation.

        captcha: drivels community
        another name for “the sewer” perhaps?

        • Daveski

          That I agree with. However, the post title is “Granny cracks down on free speech” which is a different cup of chai latte and is the type of sensationalist rubbish that should be derided.

  9. Pascal's bookie 10

    It’s a bit like fox news vs al franken innit?


  10. The Voice of Reason 11

    C’mon, Baron, stop frothing and think about it a bit more carefully.

    The issue really is about freedom of speech. The trademark iallegation is merely the tool that the Herald is using to make life difficult for a persistant critic. I think it’s safe to assume the Herald know that the website is not making commercial gain from the infringement (if it is actually an infringement at all and not just fair use for the purposes of commentary or review).

    My guess is that some staffer has pointed out to the lawyer that EtH is mocking them and, having nothing better to do that day, the lawyer sent out the letter to James.

    No doubt EtH will make a small change to the masthead and we can all move on. But the Herald still look like schoolyard bullies to me.

  11. burt 12

    I guess the people who though it was funny to have Kiwi Blog Blog with the same look and feel as KB would claim it’s wrong for people to dislike their branding being ripped off. Lift the game eh, nobody has said the content cannot be published rather it’s an attack on the branding.

    Try selling a local cola product with a red ribbon device on the label and see how far you get.

    • Eddie 12.1

      “selling” would be a key word there burt. EtH is not selling anything.

      • burt 12.1.1

        Of course. They are just ripping off the logo and taking the piss – why would the herald not like that I wonder.

    • lprent 12.2

      Ah burt you’re being silly again.

      Kiwiblog and kiwiblogblog used the standard default wordpress theme. That is what you get when you download and install wordpress. Maybe it had a couple of standard plug-ins as well. There certainly hadn’t been any effort expended.

      The question you should ask perhaps is why in the hell were there hundred of thousands if not millions of kiwiblog ‘clones’ out there.

    • felix 12.3

      Ah it’s great to have burt back. Despite all the Eyeore-like grumbling and groaning, his basic lack of understanding of the topics he chooses to comment on give me at least one good laugh like this every day.

      Keep it up burt.

      • burt 12.3.1

        It’s a pleasure Felix. Today I learned that templates choose blog names and thread topics. Wow – I though people did that stuff. Silly me.

        • felix

          Um no, that’s not what you said at all. What you said was:

          “…with the same look and feel as KB…”

          You were complaining that they stole “Kubrick”, probably the most easily recognisable wp theme in the world.

          Jeez burt, it’s only 6 comments above.

          • burt

            Yes Felix. I also stated “Kiwi Blog Blog” – it was lprent who distracted the piss take blog angle and made it about templates.

            Perhaps if I had said “other blogs that look like KB” lprent would have had a valid cause to head down that path with you following.

            Do you deny that Kiwi Blog Blog was set up to look like KiwiBlog? Are you also taking the lprent angle that it was a coincidence of template ?

          • felix

            burt there’s really no shame in saying something like:

            “oops, I didn’t realise that was the default wordpress theme, silly me I’ve never used wordpress – oh well, carry on”.

            Everyone puts their foot in their mouth now and then and no-one would think you were a fuckwit for admitting it.

  12. James 13

    Thanks for the shout-out, Eddie.

    I actually have no idea whether this is about my content annoying the Herald (although why it would come up now when I have been using the masthead for months I don’t know), or whether it’s just that they are anal about their IP. Frankly, I don’t think it matters either way.

    It was clearly a non-commercial use that did nothing significant to harm the brand (beyond what they were already doing). I buy the paper every weekday, for God’s sake.

    Like someone said above, if they had been nice about it, I would have changed it. But they were dicks, so I made a fuss. Now who’s damaging the brand?

  13. simon 14

    “I reckon there would be howls of horror from you lot if someone set up a pisstake labour/green website that actually included their logos, no?”

    oh, so I take it from your comment that you agree that the nzherald is a national party organ!

  14. Daveski 15

    Agreed that NZH acted with too much of a heavy hand.

    But it’s equally stupid to claim that the Granny protected its legal rights is impacting on free speech. Likewise, there are clear rules of engagement about what posts are acceptable here (or not) but that’s not the same as saying the Standard cracks down on free speech (LP does instead :)).

    Anyway, I still don’t get why so many here are so fixated with the Granny.

    What’s funny is that all of KB think that journos are card carrying members of the Communist party so the truth must lie somewhere in the middle.

    • Daveski 15.1

      Aside – not a bug but a feature. If you get your capture wrong, it appears the reply defaults to the end of the post meaning you lose some of the context!

  15. Rex Widerstrom 16

    I really can’t be bothered finding out if I’m right but the masthead looks like it’s been made from some sort of gothic font which is quite possibly available free or for a fee. If not, then I’m willing to bet there’s one out there that’s so close as to be indistinguishable from it to anyone but a typographer.

    So hardly a lot of IP vested in it, I’d have thought… more the name than the font it’s written in, though of course it’s a bit of both.

    Considering it’s legal for me to write “The New Zealand Herald” here in Arial then it’d be very difficult indeed to suggest James was doing anything much illegal in writing the same phrase in a gothic font on his site.

    Now if they’d gone to some trouble to design a masthead, like I did when I took over “Straight Furrow” and had an artist draw a very fetching tractor and a plough…

    captcha: train dingo (to steal babies?)

  16. burt 17

    Of course when John Key used a “ripped off version” of ‘Clocks’ on his promotional DVD the use of intellectual property was a big issue.

    I guess if you don’t like Key, do like Coldplay, don’t like the Herald and do like piss takes of the Herald then it’s all a bit different isn’t it.

    • Eddie 17.1

      yeah because Key was a major political figure whose ripping off of Clocks was done to save him tens of thousands of dollars in a political campaign. He wasn’t some guy with a blog taking the piss.

      Thanks for reminding us of clocks though. I wonder how much the Nats had to pay in the end.

  17. Pascal's bookie 18

    The issues are all a bit different burt, so yeah, things that are different are different.

    Three words to ponder: Trademark. Copyright. Satire.

  18. burt 19

    Pascal’s bookie

    It seems that Eddie may have clouded the waters on this issue. You see he uses the genuine “The New Zealand Herald” masthead at the start of this thread. Looking at the ‘Editing the herald’ site I cannot tell what font it was using.

    Reading Rex’s comment above mine suggests that James had not used the Herald font on his blog. IE: He didn’t have a similar looking ‘logo’ (copyright, trademark)

    If that’s the case then I take back my comment about IP, and perhaps Eddie could add an update that clarifies if James was using the herald font etc.

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