Coulter and Her Syndicate Reach Copyright Agreement After ‘Old Arab’ Controversy

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By: Dave Astor

Universal Press Syndicate and conservative columnist Ann Coulter have reached an agreement on removing Universal’s copyright from columns on AnnCoulter.com that differ from columns sent to newspapers.

Meanwhile, the Detroit Free Press reported that 26 members of U.S. Congress have sent a letter to Universal protesting Coulter’s Feb. 23 column, in which the conservative writer called liberal columnist Helen Thomas an “old Arab” and implied Thomas was a security threat to President Bush.

Universal removed the “Arab” reference before sending the column to Coulter’s 110 newspaper clients. But Coulter kept “Arab” in the version of her column on AnnCoulter.com, kept the Universal copyright under the column, and didn’t include a disclaimer saying the column was worded differently from the one syndicated by Universal.

As this story was being posted, Coulter had yet to drop the Universal copyright from the Feb. 23 column on her site. “We fully expect it will be removed,” said Kathie Kerr, director of communications for Universal.

Until now, the line under Coulter’s columns said “copyright Universal Press Syndicate.” Under the agreement, all columns on AnnCoulter.com will say “distributed by Universal Press Syndicate (c) Ann Coulter” if the print and Web versions of the column are the same.

If the versions are not the same, the line will say “(c) Ann Coulter” only. “This applies to columns that may be of different lengths, with different headlines, and with different copy from the edited version,” Kerr said.

Using a Coulter copyright “corrects a longstanding error,” Kerr explained. “Universal does not hold the copyright on Ann’s columns.”

Kerr also said Universal knows of no newspapers canceling Coulter (who could not be reached for comment) because of her “old Arab” remark.

But the 26 members of Congress writing Universal were not pleased. In the letter, they stated: “Just as we would expect that similar slights against African Americans, Jews, or Hispanics would not be tolerated, equal disapproval should be shown toward these repeated slanders directed at Arab Americans.” They added that “loyal Arab Americans have made heroic contributions to our military, intelligence, and Homeland Security efforts.”

Thomas’ Hearst Newspapers column is distributed by King Features Syndicate.

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