In researching the Billings’ murder case—one of the biggest and highest profile cases in Pensacola—it became apparent to me that corruption in the government, the “Good Ole Boy” (GOB) system of governmental cronyism is not reserved for just the politicians. One of the most audacious aspects of this case is the lack of journalistic integrity and “stick-to-tiveness” that is exhibited by the media. One particular, Mr. Outzen, also known for his title as “repeater” rather than “reporter”. Mr. Outzen calls himself a man of integrity in a high profile interview with a high profile publication in reference to this case. He has also shared with me his thoughts, ideas, and knowledge from that time. It seems Mr. Outzen believes very much as I do. He confirmed the role of Hugh Wiggins as a gunrunner. He confirms that Ashley Billings Markham was screaming at the top of her lungs at the crime scene, “He did this. He killed my parents,” pointing to Justin Billings the night of the murders.
This passionate accusation turns out to be a valid theory. Mr. Billings had GSR on his hands that night, a very weak alibi and first & foremost, the absence of any emotion that was so glaring to investigators, he was initially the best subject. That is until the intervention of Mr. Craig’s narrative released to the press which deviates from all evidence but is pushed and released as fact to the press. Mr. Outzen confirms the “high probability” of that being the case scenario to me in a private conversation, in January of this year. Outzen acknowledged my theories as fair, accurate, and as likely as any theory provided by the state in this murder. This really got my attention since Mr. Outzen was on the inside track of this case and had access to the crime scene the night of the brutal murders.
But when I asked this “seasoned” journalist who waves the banner of his family’s roots in the civil rights pursuit, why he never broke this story that was so jaw-dropping and could have made his career, I received a bunch of nothing answers, ultimately culminating on him threatening to sue me for quoting him in a book I published on the Billings Murder. Why such overkill? Turns out I was not privy to the fact, Mr. Outzen had a love of the Honorable Sir David. When I asked about this relationship tinting his duty as a journalist as well as the dirt Sir David has on Mr. Outzen, he became very defensive. He then proceeded to tell me he’d sue me for quoting him in my book.
Six to eight weeks later, I got a letter in the mail from Mr. Outzen’s attorney- a CEASE & DESIST letter stating I was to pull my book from sale and pay him $25,000 for my “infringement” of his copyright material. I was to sign a statement to never to it again. To which I penned this letter:
April 9, 2015
In response to your letter dated April 2, 2015 regarding copyright infringement that I allegedly inflicted upon Rick Outzen in my book Conjuring Justice: Proof One Person Can Make a Difference, this is my official answer to such allegations:
The portion of Mr. Outzen’s article posted on Rick’s Blog & Independent Weekly was shown in my book as the only publicized description of a crime scene and the 9-1-1 call. These statements are factual events Mr. Outzen was the sole beneficiary of as specific description of the actual events were squashed by the Billings’ family. Mr. Outzen’s description of the crime scene was of little to no artistic license and more recollection of facts not released to the public. My quoting of his details was for the benefit of reporting or describing the scene of a crime that many people were not fortunate enough to have been privy.
My use of Mr. Outzen’s work did not affect the financial gain of Mr. Outzen’s article as it is posted in various publications free in the public domain. My financial gain was minimal on this book with his description being merely an insignificant portion of book. His description merely adds 3% of the totality of the book in which its own means to identify a factual event in a factual case.
Pursuant to Maxtone-Graham v. Burtchaell, 803 F.2d 1253 (2d Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 481 U.S. 1059 (1987) & according to Columbia Law School teaching, the following criteria is met in my use of Mr. Outzen’s description of the Billings’ crime scene:
- “Purpose: Although defendant’s book was published by a commercial press with the possibility of monetary success, the main purpose of the book was to educate the public (about Billings’ Murders & the author’s views). Though errors in the copying of the original work could weigh against fair use, pursuant to case law, the court found the errors to be of little significance. Overall, this factor weighed in favor of fair use.
- Nature: Though the plaintiff’s book contained “elements of creative journalistic effort,” it was said to be largely factual, weighing in favor of fair use.
- Amount: In precedent, the court resolved that quoting 4.3 percent of the plaintiff’s work was not excessive. The verbatim passages were also not necessarily central to the plaintiff’s book.”
- I used 1714 words out of 48,547 entire words within my book, which accounts for less than 3% of the entirety of the book. While this amount is a great percentage of the article in question–2506 of the article composition–of that 2506 words, 1128 words are transcribed, 9-1-1 records which although copyright protected within the article, are not private property and do not rise to the level of infringement. The remaining 586 words are again reporting of things notated in a report of factual recollections of Wayne Wright, crime scene investigator & Deputy Walter Johnson. These accounts are not artistic expression; they are findings of professionals on the scene which does not fall under copyright infringement.
- The reporting of the conditions of the crime scene and the bodies is presented in my book, to provide a scene that is important but not foundationally substantive. It is also only one privy to, Rick Outzen. Mr. Outzen gained this privilege through political favors with Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan who holds a monopoly on all crime scenes within his jurisdiction. No accurate portrayal of the facts was ever presented to the public for understanding of the crime scene. This also makes constitutes the journalistic value of the information used to be free of artistic expression and copyright infringement.
- “Effect: The court found no significant threat to the plaintiff’s market. Indeed, the court noted that the plaintiff’s work….was not likely to appeal to the same readers.
**Conclusion: This case sets precedent which affirms that quotations in a subsequent work may be within fair use, even when they are lengthy”
Copyright Advisory Office Case Summaries. Columbia Law School, n.d. Web. 7 Apr. 2015. <(http://copyright.columbia.edu/copyright/fair-use/case-summaries/#summaries4>.)
A direct quote of Mr. Outzen was, “I can’t stand to think someone could order a killing and get away with it.” This statement alone demonstrates shared interest in the facts of this case. In numerous communications prior to this melee, Mr. Outzen also reinforced his commonality of theory and like-mindedness with the basis of my book. We had the same purpose. In light of the legal maxim, Nemo potest mutare consilium suum in alterius injuriam, (No one can change his purpose to the injury of another) the standard for copyright infringement, in this instance, would be changing of the purpose of the initial article from being factual reporting of an actual murder with journalistic integrity to a work of artistic prose with creative measure not intended to be seen as journalistic in nature.
Please take notice that the implicit understanding throughout this strong-arm attempt by Mr. Outzen was the unwillingness to permit questioning of his integrity in this case as well as possible exposure of personal favors received by Mr. Outzen’s mistress, Sena Maddison in the form of an unearned position within the ECSO. Thus violation of fair use within my book became the only effective means for Mr. Outzen to meaningfully monopolize information given to him in a case where protecting his political alliances became paramount to journalistic integrity. My exposure of this lack of integrity is the fuel that is the fire in this cease and desist action. I will not sign any agreement or pay fees used to extort me for my silence about his extramarital affair.
Any other correspondence on this matter is to be sent to Attorney Marie Mattox and will be deemed harassment for whistleblowing retaliation in the investigation of the Escambia County Sheriff’s office. Mr. Outzen is an agent of Mr. Morgan. Any further action on Mr. Outzen’s part in reference to this matter will be deemed as such.