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Is the Gazette’s Homepage in Violation of Copyright?

April 1, 2009

The Phoenix has withdrawn its takedown notice.

Luckily for the makers of SpaceBalls and the staff of the Gazette, US Copyright law provides for fair-use exemptions for parody as, the law reasons, no rights holder would give permission for others to mock their work.

For more information, check out PubLaw.

You can see our April Fools front page here, even after 4/1/2009. It is updated with our current content, however, so most of the year it will have real stories.

This is not an April Fools joke.

  • Student

    Seriously? Wow.

  • S


  • Peter ’11

    LOL! I can't tell what part of this is and isn't an April Fool's joke. Is Anna serious? hahahaha

  • A believer

    I believe that this is real. They wouldn't make fun of her if she didn't actually say it.

    Also, wow swarthmore, nice work.

  • Gah


  • Leah

    Maybe Anna wrote that email because the Daily Gazette is a joke.
    p.s. Miles, you are a fool.

  • K

    Perhaps Swatties should take themselves less seriously. Obviously the layout is a joke, making fun of the alleged rivalry between the Gazette and the Phoenix, I highly doubt Miles meant it as a slight.

  • Peter ’11

    Leah, that makes no sense. Just saying.

  • L

    Luckily no one takes the Daily Gazette seriously…

  • haha

    this is hilarious… let's have a cage fight between anna and miles!

    (and lets be real people, no one takes either paper seriously)

  • X

    While I'm not a huge fan of either paper, I have consistently found the Daily Gazette's reporting to be lacking of any modicum of responsibility or professionalism. At least reporters from the Phoenix actually email quotes to interviwees before printing them. By the way, it's Students FOR A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY.

    P.S Miles is still a fool, and a bit more.

  • Michael Noda

    Disregarding the relative and absolute journalistic merits of the two publications, it's still sad that y'all don't still have Nelson Pavlosky around to yell at the Phoenix until they admit the error of their ways. If Swatties could once educate large corporations on the fine points of fair use (along with a small brigade of lawyers), why can't we impart some clue into our own campus newspaper?

  • Charlie D.

    If the past few years are any indication, there are plenty of people at the Phoenix who need a primer on what constitutes copyright infringement, parody, libel, &c.

  • Chris Green

    For people who have gripes about The Phoenix and the Daily Gazette, what are your specific complaints? What are your specific solutions?

    So many people complain about so much stuff at Swat without actually bothering to say what are the particular bad things and how to enact realistic change. A similar example is the ubiquitous complaining about Sharples food. Be specific and constructive; otherwise we are simply petty, ineffective, mean-spirited, and a disgrace to ourselves and our college.

  • Sven

    I love this place.

  • S

    undirected anger, pointless criticism, ineffective complaints, petty frustrations. Chris, these aren't some 'disgraceful' traits of Swarthmore students. Its just a basic feature of human nature. I mean, what else is comedy, including parody, anyway? (ever seen seinfeld?)
    You seem to have fallen for the illusion that human feelings have a responsibility to be 'specific' and 'constructive'. Criticism is as much a valid expression as congratulation or appreciation ('i love this place') and needn't be qualified to meet your bureaucratic standards.

    oh yeah. and no matter how redic Anna's letter was, it feels like a cheap shot to post it in public. We're in a tiny community here, and it amplifies the hurt from every public insult. It would've been enough to just ignore the letter and leave the parody up.

  • M

    Parody is one thing, but publishing a piece of private correspondence feels a little trashy.

  • Michael Noda


    In what way is a takedown notice, sent under color of an official title, a piece of *private* correspondence?

  • M

    Hmm, I don't know, Michael — Possibly because the message is addressed to Miles as an individual and not to Everyone With Internet Access?

  • -J

    I love Sven.

  • saykm?

    copyright infringement? i feel so bad for the phoenix. it's bad enough dealing with the pressure of being the world's premier and most important news source without having to track down the legions of fanatic imitators trying to make a quick buck ripping off of the phoenix website's dynamic and edgy layout for their own two-bit news operations.

    The Phoenix: Taking Ourselves More Seriously Every Day since 1881

    The Phoenix: Stealing the "Most Popular" Feature from the New York Times Website and Hypocritically Hating on Copyright Infringers since 1881

    don't get me wrong: the gazette is a by no means a stellar news source (and its discussion board is a haven for the worst kind of nonsense) but the phoenix is a JOKE PAPER. that it publishes at all is a testament to the supreme self-importance of the phoenix staff, who seem to believe that the role of a college newspaper is to provide "news" in a format, style, and tone that tries in every way to ape mainstream, corporate news sources. (and get them into journalizm school fingers crossed)

    the phoenix should be a paper that documents the life of the school. not just the institutional life of the school, but the life of the people who comprise the school's community. it should function as an advocate for students and should give them its support. instead, the phoenix publishes the full names of swarthmore students who are arrested. instead, the phoenix thinks its job is to provide a space on its editorial sheet for every policy nerd in the school to spill more ink outlining their mindblowngly prescient "analyses" of world events. instead, the phoenix publishes column after column accessing the same tired tropes every everloving week ("the dating scene suxx bro! paces is stupid! sharples sucks! these are all of the things in the world that i know how to write about!"). instead, the phoenix prints the world "awkward" an average of 50 times an issue.

    do you know how many trees the phoenix is killing every week just to remind you that "life" at "swat" is "awkward"?

    the phoenix ought to be brainstorming interesting, original, and important things to print, not flipping out over the infringement of their precious copyright for an april fool’s joke.

  • dumb-ass-swattie

    In response to everything above: Wow! I didn't realize the stick up Swarthmore College's ass was this large.

  • Hmm

    That's definitely not private correspondance. It wasn't addressed to private-citizen-Miles, it was gazette-editor-in-chief-Miles, making it a "letter to the editor," and therefore public. Plus would it have been "trashy" to post it up as an explanation had the Gazette followed through with the demand and all of the sudden the site disappeared? The reason it seems trashy/insulting is because the letter is dumb. If the request was actually in response to a legit copyright infringement (which it certainly thought it was), no one would be complaining.

  • J

    Saykm, turning this comment page into a personal insult of the Phoenix seems far and away poor taste. The issue isn't whether the Phoenix provides good, literate journalism, which it does, but whether this April Fools Joke constitutes a parody, which it also most certainly does.

    Let's keep this discussion focused.

  • saykm?

    J, I can't help but think my post was more than relevant to our discussion, especially because I was replying in particular to Chris Green's question above in comment 15. I'll quote it, since a reformulation would only bastardize the man's prose: "For people who have gripes about The Phoenix and the Daily Gazette, what are your specific complaints? What are your specific solutions?"

  • Chris Green

    saykm? –

    I'm glad for your reply, but I don't understand some of your comments. First, what are the problems you see with the style and format of major corporate newspapers? How should the format or style of Swarthmore's papers be different?

    You also say, "[The Phoenix] should function as an advocate for students and should give them its support." There are many institutions at this school that are supposed to function as advocates for students. Why should a newspaper, the goal of which should be to simply print the news as well as it can, take on a role as an student advocate?

    Also, in the same paragraph you complain both that The Phoenix writes world analysis/policy editorials and the same complaints about Swarthmore's campus and community. If you are suggesting, as seemed the case earlier, that Swarthmore's papers should focus on the community, won't it naturally follow that topics of continuous news will re-appear?

    You suggested that "The Phoenix ought to be brainstorming interesting, original, and important things to print…" — but what should they print? If you were running the phoenix this week, what articles would you publish that fits your criteria?

    I'm not disagreeing that there are weaknesses, flaws, and limitations in our papers, but I think this is more a reflection of the fact that we are a small school with little news that isn't already known by everyone, and without a journalism program (and I suspect the number of our college reporters who are breaking their teeth here just in preparation for journalism school is close to zero). it makes sense that our papers will be less than professional.

    I agree that there is room for improvement (especially, as you point out, on some specific themes that are over-worn, such as awkwardness at Swarthmore), and editorial guidance. Nevertheless, there has been improvement: The Phoenix misquotes people much less than it did four years ago. The Daily Gazette prints a greater number relevant stories than it did four years ago. Also, the sports section of the Phoenix is serves a valuable and fairly unique role in reporting college sports news on a campus generally apathetic to it.

    You're right that more work could be done to edit articles in both papers, and that editors could try to provide more of a structure and purpose to the papers. But they are also limited by the fact that their staff (and they themselves) are Swarthmore students, who submit things late, don't like covering events they aren't personally interested in, and have a dozen other things to do.

  • Miles Skorpen

    "(and I suspect the number of our college reporters who are breaking their teeth here just in preparation for journalism school is close to zero)"

    While very few go to Journalism School (of which many journalists are rather dismissive), quite a few Swatties go into journalism. We've got at *least* 5 Swatties at the New York Times right now, and there are more at a lot of alums at newspapers/radio stations/TV news stations all over the country.

  • a parent

    I think the criticism of the Phoenix and Daily Gazette is a bit unwarranted. Look around for what passes for campus journalism at other similarly sized colleges. In many cases, they can barely (if even) manage to publish a paper on a regular weekly basis, let alone a paper and a daily news publication and a superb podcast such as War News Radio.

    Is every issue of the Phoenix and the Gazette scintelating? No. Is every article great? No. To be honest though, there is some superb stuff in both. For example, the coverage of the recent anti-abortion philosopher's talk was excellent in both the Phoenix and the Gazette — better than almost any mainstream media treatment of the topic.

    The reporting on financial issues and pending budget cuts has been solid, better than in many campus papers.

    And, Lauren Stokes has written some historical review articles that are simply excellent by any standard, such as her history of coming out week chalkings which in turn spurred her history of LGBT issues at Swarthmore. Great stuff.

  • Swattie ’09

    I think that the news content is fine in both the daily gazette and the phoenix and that the journalistic content is great(e.g. the phoenix's series for black history month). However the editorials at both papers (esp. the phoenix) suffer from a lack of creativity – with notable exceptions (fletcher's column this semester is amazing.)

    And Chris: you often criticize people for complaining about Swarthmore without offering solutions to the problem. Wasn't your hamster column pretty much your space to complain about aspects of Swattie culture you don't like? Those complaints weren't always accompanied by detailed solutions, many simply registered discontent. I don't think that's illegitimate, do you?

  • Chris Green

    Swattie '09 —

    You're right that my column last semester didn't have specific solutions presented; my primary goal in writing that column was to show Swarthmore through the eyes of a guinea pig who could be considered conservative on a number of levels. It was fiction, and meant to give an impression and tell a story; my goal (whether successful or not) was not to grind specific axes, but to increase understanding of an alternative experience and perspective of life at Swarthmore. It was not intended to be a normal editorial column. Does that distinction make sense? (My column this semester is much more of a normal editorial, and I have attempted to include specific solutions where I can.)

    While registering discontent is fine, and admitting ignorance of a solution is okay, I have also found that sometimes the best way to resolve my discontent is to change myself (my attitude, my actions) and not the world. For instance, for a week I lived at a rural Chinese orphanage and ate beans and rice and plain white bread. Whenever I get sick of Sharples, I cast back on that week and realize what a blessed life I really do live. Let's be willing to strive for improvement, and yet always be grateful for the riches we have already.

  • D

    "Phoenix actually email quotes to interviwees before printing them"

    What journalist would ever do that? Journalism may not be about "tricking" people into saying things, but when you allow your subjects to retract what they themselves said, then you are just not being responsible.

  • Kavita Hardy


    Journalists that often misquote or misinterpret quotes. And journalists who understand that as students, we are not necessarily skilled at delivering sensible-sounding "sound bites." I really appreciate it when the Phoenix writers take the time to confirm quotes that they are using.


  • Jonathan Ference ’07

    As a former editor of both the DG and Phoenix (a small group, I think — Jack Keefe, are you out there?) who has taken his fair share of potshots at both papers while working for the other one, I wanted to point out a couple of things —

    (1) A major source of the tension here is that you have two papers that overlap in some of their goals but also have, historically at least, done different things very well. The DG was online well before the Phoenix and has continued to excel in that arena. Moreover, being a daily, the DG can cover stories just plain quicker (even if the Phoenix is online, I wasn't about to check it daily for updates.) The Phoenix has been printing for over 125 years and offers a venue for a more diverse types of journalism just by virtue of the fact that it's in print. The two also overlap in a lot of their coverage, and whereas when I was a first year you could have said that the DG's coverage was by no means comprehensive of campus events or happenings, it's gotten there recently.

    At any rate, there are brilliant people working for both staffs, and there's going to be competition. That's how it was all four years when I was at Swarthmore, from both sides saying and doing nasty things. My senior year, there was some discussion of efforts to improve the relationship between the two staffs — nothing came to fruition, but I think an open recognition of the competitive nature of the two might help. If I could go back and change anything, and if I could suggest it now, it would be for the two staffs to chill out and be constructive — I wish I'd done more of it.

    (2) There's been some discussion of this in the thread, but you'd be amazed how repetitive things at Swarthmore are. I spent a lot of time when I was eic of The Phoenix rereading old issues, and, guess what? People in 1983 bitched about the food, wrote about an exhibition visiting Swat, had a dorm decoration contest, and wrote editorials about the exact same things as in 2009 — including how terrible The Phoenix was, how it should be destroyed, etc. The quality of the paper ebbed and flowed based on the composition of the staff and editorial boards. This is part of the nature of a college where students are only there for four years.

    (3) Chris Green, you've got a remarkably level head and incredibly incisive insight into Swarthmore. I loved your columns last semester.

    (4) Just to put things in perspective, I left Swarthmore and went to law school, and I have to read this every week: . The students who work on it are really dedicated, but the quality isn't anything like that of the DG and Phoenix.

    (5) I don't always agree with the editorial decisions the DG staff makes (just as I'm sure they and the campus disagreed with many Phoenix editorial board decisions during my time), but I have to say that Miles and Lauren and the DG staff have done a great job improving the DG the past couple of years. Print media's in a lot of trouble, and getting this online system flowing is important in remaining relevant for ANY publication that's historically been in print, because that's where the future for media is.

    (6) Editors of both publications should be familiar with and use — great legal stuff.

  • Marc Engel

    Anyone who think Chris Green has a "level head" and "incisive insight" really should be ignored. Aggressively ignored.

  • Daniel Leigh

    This entire college is ridiculous.

  • Jonathan

    Marc, Chris was one of the few people on this thread calmly encouraging constructive dialogue. Aggressively ignore me if you want, or engage me on the merits, but I think constructive dialogue should be encouraged — isn't that a rule of discussion on this forum, DG editors?

  • Peter ’11

    Yeah, as someone who agrees with the political views of neither Marc nor Chris, Chris has always seemed more level-headed, incisive, insightful and open-minded. I don't think he'd ever say that anyone should be "aggressively ignored," as much as he might disagree with them.

  • swattie

    I love Sven AND Dan Leigh.

  • blargh

    right, Chris would probably be more polite to your face and never say that anyone should be aggressively ignored. but as he's demonstrated time and again through his columns, he is an ardent supporter of the status quo, which perpetuates the aggressive ignoring of women, queers, and people of color. you can pick which you think is worse.