Panic Street Lawyer: Maz, Bing and Jammie epilogue

Sunday, 20 October 2013 06:00 AM Written by  Jay Hornack

20131020rd jollyroger490pi·rate

1. One who robs at sea or plunders the land from the sea without commission from a sovereign nation.
2. One who preys on others; a plunderer.
3. One who makes use of or reproduces the work of another without authorization.

As I mentioned at the end of last week’s PSL, I have one final Pearl Jam/Pittsburgh sports story to relate. As reported in this newspaper, leader Eddie Vedder came into Pittsburgh a few days before the band’s October 15 Pittsburgh concert at Consol Energy Center and hung out with a few former Pirate baseball players, including Bill “Maz“ Mazeroski.

It is this happy story about batting Buccos, and not a serious story about those who really rob at sea in October 2013, which prompted me this week to update the very first Panic Street Lawyer column that I wrote in October 2010. Entitled “Maz Bing and Jammie: Not A New Law Firm,” I compared the reproduction and use of the work of another without authorization by Bing Crosby and Jammie Thomas-Rasset. We learned back then that Crosby – gone since 1977 – had used an advanced technology in 1960 to tape-record the seventh and final game of that year’s World Series (you know, the one the New York Yankees lost when Mazeroski hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth inning on October 13 at gone Forbes Field). Thomas-Rasset was in the news back in 2010 for the third civil trial she had lost against the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), who claimed she had illegally shared copyrighted songs online in 2006.

Where are those three, three years later?


20131029wap mazeroski150Bill Mazeroski thanks fans. Associated PressWhen he’s not rubbing elbows with rock stars 29 years his junior, Mazeroski is making big plans with his personal property. As reported both here at the P-G and in the New York Times, on November 9 he will be auctioning off the uniform and shoes that he wore and the bat that he swung in that ninth inning 53 years ago. Mazeroski says he will donate a portion of his proceeds to Pirates Charities, but the remainder will go to his family.

Unlike Bing Crosby’s memento of Game 7, Mazeroski and his family have known this whole time where his 1960 uniform was: in a cedar chest in his Greensburg PA home. And, unlike the story that is truly “sad to the point of tragedy” of Harry Belafonte and the heirs of Martin Luther King Jr., no one has to sue anybody to get a legal determination on Mazeroski memorabilia ownership.


20131020wap crosbykiner150Bing Crosby and Ralph Kiner at Pirates spring training, 1948. AP With apologies for “Saturday Night Live” skits circa 1975, Bing Crosby is still dead. But even though it is 36 years after his passing, he is rightly praised for “setting in motion the technologies that brought about the information revolution.”

Crosby was part owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1946 until his death. Meanwhile, some think that pirate-like plundering was among the causes of the bankruptcy of another great American city: Detroit. Specifically, its prior mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, was just sentenced to 28 years in prison for racketeering, bribery, extortion, and tax crimes. That scandal has made the job of the current mayor, a former basketball star, more difficult. His name? Dave Bing.


This past March, Thomas-Rasset exhausted her appeals from damages awarded for the RIAA when the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari without further comment. Thomas-Rasset, from Minnesota, was ultimately ordered to pay the RIAA $220,000 – the jury award in her first trial – by the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.20131020wap JammieThomas-Rasset150Jammie Thomas-Rasset. AP

Thomas-Rasset, now 36, has said that she does not have $220,000 to pay the RIAA. No worries, said the RIAA this summer: make a public statement of your culpability and the virtues of anti-piracy, and we’ll reduce the amount that you owe us. Thomas-Rasset has responded to the RIAA offer by saying that she would file for bankruptcy before doing that. I guess now I know how (former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice) Joan of Orie Melvin felt after hearing part of her sentence on public corruption charges.

The RIAA continues to go after internet pirates in 2013: an article in SPIN said that they filed 2.2 million URL takedown requests with Google just last month. As for Thomas-Rasset, I had to wonder this week, after the announcement of the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominations, if she ever downloaded any songs written by fellow Minnesotan Paul Westerberg

And so, one week from the end of Year Three, Panic Street Lawyer has come full circle. I hope you decide to come back next week for the dramatic conclusion.

(Top image: The Jolly Roger with the Pirates' PNC Park in the background. Rebecca Droke/Post-Gazette)

The Panic Street Lawyer is a personal opinion column by attorney Jay Hornack. Contact him right here at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and follow Jay on Twitter: @panicstlawyer

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