Subject: copyright
From: David Ibbetson <ibbetson -at- IDIRECT -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 12 Mar 1996 12:13:07 -0500

Eric Brown writes:
Here's the way I see it. If someone takes this (or any) list and copies it
to their web page, the writers whose words are being preserved have only
two fair and reasonable reactions:
1) thanks that their writing will be available on a continuing basis, to a
wider audience
2) appreciation for the individual who will be putting out effort to
maintain the web page

I just don't understand how anyone can get so chippy about letters written
off-the-cuff to a public group. Comparing this to works of art? Accusing
people of making big bucks off our discussions of gramar and the merits of
HTML? And please don't swamp my e-mail with bleatings of moral outrage.
---------------end of quote----------------------
While I generally agree with Eric, what if somebody turns a collection of
messages on one or more lists into a best-seller? "If I use extracts from
one book that's plagiarism. If I use extracts from 100 books, that's research.

I tend to the position that if I send a letter to a genuinely public list
then I've put my pearls of wisdom into the public domain. If I include a
long extract from a copyright document then I may be liable but, anyone who
repeas my article without knowledge of my misbehaviour hasn't. (I'm pretty
sure this isn't present law, but I think we're heading this way.)
If I send an e-mail to my cousin that's a private letter. If I post to a
private list, then how private is it? If it's myChristmas letter, (to less
than 100 people), it's probably private. What if it's my business's Xmas
Card, sent to several thousand customers and prospects?

I'm well aware that it isn't as simple as I've made it seem here. Equally I
don't like copyright on computer programs. I feel they should be protected
by an improved patent law, for patent-like periods. etc. etc. etc.
Several people have been discussing copyright in personal letters. I'm
pretty sure that the recipient owns the document, but the writer owns the
copyright in it's contents. Similarly, if I discover a lost chapter of the
Iliad, the document is mine but Homer's literary executors have rights in
its contents. (Who are they?)

David (the idiot) Ibbetson

David Ibbetson Phone: (416) 363-6692
133 Wilton Street, #506 Fax: (416) 363-4987
Toronto, Ontario Internet: ibbetson -at- idirect -dot- com
Canada M5A 4A4

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