Re: URGENT: Immediate ethical issue

Subject: Re: URGENT: Immediate ethical issue
From: Jan Henning <henning -at- r-l -dot- de>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 5 May 2003 19:53:53 +0200

Off the top of my head, I recall that fair use (vs.
plagiary/copyright violation) would include the use of (so-called) 'common,
everyday information that any educated person can/could readily find' (e.g.
info from common reference sources, such encyclopaedia)and thus need not be
cited. At least that's what I was taught/understood. Does this correspond to
anyone else's understanding?

It doesn't correspond to mine, and here's why: Copyright isn't concerned with information, it i concerned with creativity and the protection of same.

Thus, if you painstakingly count all the trees in every national forest (certainly nothing that the average person could readily find out) an dpublish that, copyright does not in any way protext the information - everybody can use it.

What copyright does protect is the expression of the information. Thus, other people may be forbidden to simply copy your words and publish them in works of their own.

(There are a few 'fair use' exceptions to this restriction, but they are a bit tricky and not very extensive. If I recall correctly, the only one that normally applies to quoting in commercial works is th 'reasearch' clause: If the subject of a text is another text, you may need to quote from the studied subject. For example, it is kind of hard to write a critique of Brett Easton Ellis' work without including quotes from same. Of course, all such quotes must be properly attributed to be allowed under copyright law.)

You may think of another very limited case where copyright does not apply but which does not have to do with fair use: If there is only a very limited amount of possibilities to express something, it is hard to impossible to copyright one of these expressions. For example, you can describe today's wheather in only so many different ways. It seems very unlikely that one of the standard ones could be copyrightable.

Jan Henning

Jan Henning
Am Schlossberg 14, D-82547 Eurasburg, Germany

Phone: +49 700 0200 0700, Fax: +49 8179 9307-12
E-Mail: henning -at- r-l -dot- de, Web:


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RE: URGENT: Immediate ethical issue: From: Gillespie, Stephen (Contractor)

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