Friday, March 11, 2011

Controversy over obituary site takes on a life of its own

    Since my first post on February 22, I have received 192 emails from around the country regarding the fraudulent and predatory policies of, the online obituary web site. I answered them for awhile, but I apologize for not being able to keep up.
    The controversy has become national thanks to Jim Romenesko, who graciously placed a link to my coverage on the widely read media site 
    And it is a national issue,
since 124 of the country's 150 largest newspapers have delegated their obituary function to Legacy.
    Several of you have suggested an online petition to demand that Legacy revoke its outlandish, legally indefensible "terms of use" policy, but I agree with those who believe a class-action lawsuit would be more effective. Legacy's affiliate newspapers, who share in the ill-gotten profits of its site, would be named as co-defendants.Two of these suits are in the works, but I expect a judge would consolidate them, if it ever got that far.
    Here in Salt Lake City, we've had a whole lot of talk but no action that I know of. The CEO of Media One said he had changed his policy, enabling free access to obituaries forever, instead of for 30 days. But two weeks later, the 30-day limit is still on Media One's web site.
    The overarching rights that Legacy claims over the obituaries we write about our family members remains the most important issue. I regard it as larceny. Check out my February 22 post to get a taste of the firm's preposterous assertion of its virtual ownership of your intellectual property and of the memory of your loved one. Our legacies -- and the legacies of our loved ones -- belong to us, not to the predatory, profit-making company,