RE: Supremes rule for freelancers

Subject: RE: Supremes rule for freelancers
From: "John Locke" <mail -at- freelock -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2001 14:39:24 -0700

Mary Deaton writes:

> You never have the "rights" to my creations unless I grant them to you.
> "Rights" to intellectual property are a legal concept. It translates to
> "ownership." I may grant you access to reading them, but that
> does not mean
> I grant you legal rights to the ownership of the creation, and
> that is what
> copyright law is all about. When I publish something on my Web site, it
> remains mine legally and I can go after anyone I catch using that material
> in a way that I have not approved or given permission for. And granting
> rights does not have to include compensation. It typically does,
> but it does
> not have to.

... in response to Glenn Maxey, who wrote:

> Just to add another view, your statement that "(I) do not have a right
> to what (you) create" is misleading and potentially outright wrong
> without further clarification.
> I mean, you wouldn't have created it if you didn't want to give people
> the right to access it. Hence, the additional clarification would be:
> "You do not have a right to what I create... without adequate
> compensation."

> What matters is the ROI to the copyright holder, who has run the numbers
> and calculated that their profits are too low to re-press and re-release
> niche music.

> Don't let the arguments of the business blow smoke in your eyes.
> As this relates to (technical) writing, the goal of most writers is to
> be read. The goal is not to become rich off of the copyright, because
> this is sure to lead to the work not getting read. Getting read by large
> numbers of people has its own rewards, direct and indirect.

As a freelancer for going on seven years now, copyright is a most
interesting topic for me. While I'm quite sympathetic to Mary's point of
view, and used to agree wholeheartedly, I've read quite a bit recently to
change my mind.

What's most interesting is to study the history of copyright. A great
article appeared in The Atlantic a few years ago: "Who Will Own Your Next
Great Idea?" by Charles C. Mann. It's quite long, but you can read it at It's a comprehensive essay
tracing copyright in England, France, and the drafters of the United States
Constitution. He also discusses Napster, the music industry, the publishing
industry, and the Open Source movement. Of Richard Stallman (founder of the
Free Software Foundation), he writes:

"Writers, he said, do not actually own their words. Computer programmers --
Stallman is one -- do not own a single line of their programs, and never
have. Painters own only their canvases, and those only until they are sold.
Far from recognizing any natural rights of authors, he said, copyright is a
bargain between the public and publishers, in which the public consents to
restrict its rights as a kind of bribe to publishers. 'The Constitution
doesn't care whether content owners make money,' Stallman claimed, puffing
slightly. 'What's important is the public's right to learn.'"

Fodder for thought.

--John Locke


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RE: Supremes rule for freelancers: From: MMdeaton

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