Copyright & the net: more thoughts

Subject: Copyright & the net: more thoughts
From: Pat Berry <pat -at- BERRY -dot- CARY -dot- NC -dot- US>
Date: Sat, 16 Apr 1994 13:13:20 EDT

Chuck Martin <techwriter -at- VNET -dot- IBM -dot- COM> writes:

> This discussion is interesting, and seems to have polarized into two camps:
> the free-spirit thinkers who suggest that information posted is free for
> all, and the word-as-property thinkers who adhere to strict interpretations
> of copyright laws.

I disagree completely. No interpretation is involved. The copyright
laws are clear. The division is between those who wish to comply with
the laws, and those who want to violate them.

> I am struck by the tone of an article
> in the April issue of CompuServe magazine, which describes a case of how
> one person helped another on CompuServe. It seems one person wanted some
> advice on how to trim a fruit tree. Another person gave that advice, using
> her time and professional knowledge, and giving both for free.

This has nothing to do with the issue of copyright law. One cannot
copyright time or professional knowledge, only creative works.

> This is not an isolated incident. Thousands of people are giving advice,
> counselling, direction, and more on bulletin boards, online services, and
> the Internet. If these same services were offered face to face, they would
> cost the receiver, usually by the hour. Why are people willing to give
> freely of themselves here?

Are you seriously suggesting that people never give free advice,
counseling, and direction in person? Where I live, it happens every
day. I've been the on the receiving end of such help on countless
occasions, and I've given such help on many others. In my opinion, the
dichotomy you speak of simply doesn't exist.

> But this society has set up few rules, and the few rules there are seems
> to be based on tolerance, respect, and freedom. If we impose the rigid
> rules here of that outside world, will we stifle the desire to freely
> give of ourselves, poisoning the so-far carefree atmosphere that exists here?

I can think of no better way to poison a carefree atmosphere that to
steal the work of others and use it without their permission. Such an
action is not based on respect or freedom, but on a callous disregard
for the right of creators to own and control their own work.

Copyright laws do not prevent authors from freely giving away their work,
if that's what they choose to do. But authors must be free to choose
*not* to give away their work, and copyright laws guarantee that

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