Copyright and TECHWR-L

Subject: Copyright and TECHWR-L
From: "Eric J. Ray" <ejray -at- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 14 Apr 1997 13:39:48 -0600

At 12:02 PM 4/14/97 -0800, Matt Ion wrote:
>All due respect, as "you're the boss," but it seems to me that
>copyright of quoted "word bytes" is a prime concern to us, as technical
>writers.
...
>
>I'd say avoiding copyright-infringement suits is of general interest
>:-)
>

Matt (and others),
I don't think that, as a rule, copyright issues are appropriate.
Why? Because we've yet to have a discussion of copyright
issues that actually shed light on the issues. Perhaps it's
just my simplistic view, but I don't see what's open for discussion
in copyright law.
My I'm-not-a-lawyer interpretation:
* If someone else wrote it, you don't hold the copyright. If you
don't hold the copyright, you may not/cannot/should not
post the piece in its entirety.
* If you're just posting a small amount to make a point (a few
lines, with attribution where available), go for it.

It doesn't matter where something came
from or that you "think" it's ok to post it. If you didn't write it,
you don't _know_ who holds the copyright, so don't post it.
That's why the posting rules specify originality as a key criteria in
what to post.

To return to your original point:
>All due respect, as "you're the boss," but it seems to me that
>copyright of quoted "word bytes" is a prime concern to us, as technical
>writers.

It is, and I'd be mad as hell if someone was posting excerpts from
anything I wrote without permission. It's bad enough that the
TECHWR-L posting rules and TECHWR-L info have appeared in
literally dozens of STC newsletters under other people's
bylines with no attribution, but if stuff I get paid for starts
appearing on the Net, I'll be calling a lawyer. That's why it's not
appropriate to post copyright infringements on techwr-l.

Elna's point was very well taken, but still not germane to
technical communication. I didn't intend for my followup
to specifically point to her -- my intent was to say:
"Elna made a good point. What's more, the original post
was just not appropriate, in addition to being a copyright
problem as Elna pointed out. "

There are probably exceptions and cases in which copyright
issues might be appropriate (e.g. how do you resolve issues
of self-plagarism when you're writing for the fifth company
about how to open files in Windows 95 and you did all
four previous manuals as work-for-hire), but this isn't one
of them.

Hope this helps. Please direct other discussion of copyright
issues and the appropriateness or not to me off-line.

Eric



**************************************************
Eric J. Ray ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com
TECHWR-L Listowner http://www.raycomm.com/

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