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Copyright fuss



Yes, a hullaballoo indeed.  And lots of high dudgeon, too.

As I've browsed (quickly!) this thread, I've been one of those thinking
"lighten up" or "get a life" but also "a little courtesy at all levels,
please?"  OTOH, Richard, your story really points out that the issue here
is frequently not "people" ripping each other off, but big corporations
with lots of resources ripping off small creative folks.  Both of your
stories are infuriating, and I respect your patience in writing them off -
I sure would have considered suing.  But then, the big greeting card
companies, which shall remain nameless in this post $:-<, are famous for
that kind of rip-off, sometimes not even stuff they could claim was done
"for hire." And the lawsuits, as I understand it, have not supported the
creative artists they ripped off.  So the right to sue isn't worth much if
you can't afford the lawyers' fees.  And it's hard on the stomach lining.

BTW, the "for hire" category is probably important.  If you do something
for hire, which I suppose might include doing a commission, there might be
a question who owns the copyright unless you specify it in a contract.  Or
so I understand. Ask an attorney... $:-)

As for me, even though I know that whatever I write or otherwise create
has been automatically copyrighted since the change of the law, I put a
copyright statement on anything that I consider a public document. That
is, if it meets the following highly-personal tests:

        I want to insist on my ownership of it.
        I would object to it being considered in the public domain.
        I distribute it to more than one person at a time (that's not a legal
distinction, but it's a pretty good practical one.)

So, if I exhibit an artwork, yes.  If I write a personal letter or email
message, no.  If I distribute to a listserv, in principle yes (but I
haven't ever done so, because I haven't been posting things I think are so
terribly precious.) If I send a poem to an editor, no.  If I write a
"christmas letter," no.  If I make a bookwork, yes, even if only one copy.

When I have sent someone a copy of an academic paper (unpublished in hard
copy, but presented at a conference) or a poem (ditto) I have never marked
it as copyrighted - perhaps I should if I send it online, only because
it's so easy for someone to distribute it widely.  I'm still thinking
about that question. (Xeroxing is a practical hindrance to someone doing
it with hard copy.)  But it seems pretentious, somehow...

And if I give something to one person and that person wants to distribute
(publish!) it, that person should ask me for permission - I might want him
or her to put a copyright statement on it.  I might even say "no."
That's "list protocol" too, although I admit to having violated it
occasionally.

Yeesh.  I guess this stuff does get one exercises, because I'm feeling
vehement.  Guess I'd better stop!

                     _________
|\        /|       /________/(
|? \    / ?|      (________(/(___
|??? \/ ???|    /_(________(/__/(
|   Judy   |   (______________(/(
|  Kerman  |   (Mayapple Press(/(
| Saginaw, |   (______________(/
 \ ? MI ? /
   \ ?? /       http://www.cris.com/~Jkerman
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