Tuesday, June 30, 2009

common sense isn't always so 'common'

Last week, at random times throughout the day, I started pulling together the driver safety training posts that I had intended to publish, over the course of the day, today. At night, I'd put the finishing touches on each of the posts.

There were a total of seven, in all.

I had included figures from the training manual I had received during my class - photographs of pictures I have received, or taken - and I peppered in a few personal stories to keep it interesting.

Beginning at midnight - and every few hours throughout today - I had planned for these posts to automatically publish. And wow, they looked SO good. Educational and fun to read and laden with good safety information which I hoped would keep all of you safer on the road.

But today, when I logged on and I saw the first two posts in all their glory on the world wide web, it was as if something clicked in my head.

Something didn't seem right.

So I flipped through my training manual ... and right there ... in font size two at the very bottom of the very first page ... it read clear as day, "No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the copyright owner."


Double DOH.

How did I miss that?!

So I picked up the phone and I called the copyright owner. And I told them what I wanted to do. As it currently stands, I'm working with the Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing of Smith System to figure out what I can communicate publicly - without violating their copyright.

See, when I wrote the posts, I wrote them as if I was explaining this stuff to my mother. Or my neighbor. Or someone who was sitting on my couch in my living room sharing a bowl of popcorn. Because that's what you people are to me. You are guests, dropping in on our lives.

You aren't just "the whole wide world" that needs to pay to receive training on how to stay safe on the road. This is common sense information that will save lives!! Everyone needs to know this. Especially the people that live in Eastern Europe. Or drive along the traffic congested highways of southern California. Or Washington, D.C. which purportedly has the highest car accident statistics in the country.

Violation of copyright?? Intellectual property??


Alas, almost all of the information that I wrote in my seven separate posts, is protected under copyright and any publication that I would make of material from the Smith System training booklets is illegal.

So, I pulled down the one post that had already published where a figure from their training manual was directly copied ... and ... I suspended publishing the remaining six posts until I can get the legality component squared away.

Because I want to be a law abiding citizen, as much as possible.

Say, while we're on that topic. In response to the questions that people have been sending to me regarding cancer-research fund raising raffles?

Those have been suspended indefinitely.

Because, as it turns out, those are illegal, too.

Margaret expressed concern about that, because raffles are apparently illegal in South Carolina. But my sleuth investigative skills yielded that raffles are not illegal for charitable purposes in California. Which is why I hosted so many of them.

But as it turns out, internet raffles are illegal.

I picked up that golden nugget of information last week as I was planning to host a new raffle for the blind stoker organization. My goal was to help my neighbor, Tom, in his fundraising efforts, as he tries to raise money for a bicycle organization designed to help the blind and visually impaired. Tom will be riding from Santa Barbara to San Diego later this summer - on a tandem - with a 14-year old boy who is totally blind. The raffle prize was going to be a beautiful, brand new bicycle with all of the gear to go with it. Helmet, lock, water bottle.

But as Tom started digging deeper in to the logistics of online raffles, he wound up talking to someone in the Attorney General's Office who said, they are - without a doubt - illegal.

I didn't believe him, so I called the Attorney General's Office, myself. As they were telling me, "Yes, Ma'am they are illegal", I kept repeating, "No way. Nu-huh. They can't be illegal. We are raising money for a GOOD cause. Surely there's a loophole...? Who else can I talk to?? Can you please pass me through to the Senator? We need an IMMEDIATE change in Legislature!!"

Even though we, personally, are not making any money off the raffle...

Even though we, personally, are forking out our own money to fund the raffle...

Even though, all of the money earned from the raffle would go directly to the charitable cause...

They are illegal.
(At least for now. But believe me, I'm working on it.)




Let's see. What else is there to tell you?

Here are my children attempting to climb over the fence to a community pool, that isn't in the community in which we live. The apple apparently doesn't fall far from the corrupted tree.

Perhaps I should add that to my résumé.

Renegade Lawbreaker.


  1. I ran into a similar issue while trying to fundraise for "The Ride to Conquer Cancer". Nothing even remotely associated with gambling was allowed. So I had to resort to hassling and begging.

  2. Did they say why they are illegal? And is it only internet raffles?

  3. There is nothing that thoes children can do, or will do, that will be illegal or immoral. Not with the two of you riding high over their lives. You two are really in inspiration and great role models,I am so glad I taught you so much.You two are doing a great job,and as long as they are not climbing the fence to Mexico, keep up the good work.

  4. Janna: I don't know why they are illegal. Although, I do believe I've already found my first loophole...

    It is against the law to advertise a raffle on the internet. It isn't illegal, however, to ANNOUNCE a raffle on the internet.

    What's the difference?? It starts with an "A" ends with an "E". Now I just need to figure out a way to make it work.

    I've set a goal of raising $50K this year for cancer research. That's $38K I need to raise in about five months. I need to get cracking!!!

  5. They are illegal because the actual "choosing" of the winner and odds are not regulated. Obviously Jen you have used a random generator and carefully and honestly put everyone in but there is nothing that ensures you do that other than your own moral compass. Others do not. Sometimes illegal means that they can't ensure they are fair and honest.

    Did you know that internet poker is illegal? How can they advertise on tv? Well they register their domain in a country that doesn't care and then advertise their free non gambling site (.net) on tv where you win alot with fair odds. Then you click on the gambling site, where in the last 2 minutes of play they fiddle with the odds. That is true in Britain, Canada and the US.

  6. WHOOPS!!

    And the worst part is you had to say Margaret was right...You know she is eating that one up!! :-)