[nafex] is it tediums or tedia?
hounddog at rica.net
Thu Dec 14 12:06:31 EST 2000
I took a peek at that definitive-copyright-type-place and found that
indeed they say that you don't technically have to place a notice in
order to obtain and retain copyright protection. It exists the moment
the work is created. But that begs the question of what protection
exists after one posts information in a forum such as this.
I also found the following:
Use of the notice may be important because it informs the public that
the work is protected by copyright, identifies
the copyright owner, and shows the year of first publication.
Furthermore, in the event that a work is infringed, if a
proper notice of copyright appears on the published copy or
copies to which a defendant in a copyright infringement
suit had access, then no weight shall be given to such a
defendant's interposition of a defense based on innocent
infringement in mitigation of actual or statutory damages, except
as provided in section 504(c)(2) of the copyright
law. Innocent infringement occurs when the infringer did not
realize that the work was protected.
It also goes on at length about the fact that state contract law
governs the extent to which you may transfer your copyright interest
in certain materials. It appears that while you may ORIGINALLY own
your copyright without having to do anything else, subsequent behavior
can endanger those rights.
If I were serious about availing myself of the full benefit of
copyright protection, I think I would be foolish not to make that
clear within the body of each text I wanted to protect, especially
when I was posting to a public forum such as this, or to a magazine,
such as the Pomona.
The other thing to consider, and which, I think, may be to a large
extent applicable in this discussion is this: often a great deal of
energy is expended on a theoretical or principled position, rather
than on a practical reality. Friend of mine writes a column for the
local paper. Local paper got bought by behemoth. Behemoth came to
friend and said: henceforth, we own the copyright as a work for hire
of all columns, sign here or you are fired, have a nice day. Friend
came to me, terribly upset, how can they do this, how dare they, etc.
Friend once every 5 years or so takes all of his columns (which are
of a nature observation variety) and republishes them in a book, which
he hands out to friends and acquaintances. He was horrified that they
were going to take this pleasure away from him. We talked through his
outrage and hurt. Then we sat down and talked turkey. The newspaper
pays him, the book does not.
Now that he has signed the contract, he intends to continue his
practice of publishing his book. His theory of ownership is going to
be the small potatoes theory -- namely, that he is small potatoes and
therefore he can do as he pleases. Behemoth will be wasting time and
money attempting to enforce the copyright it now owns against him.
Indeed, in this context, owning the copyright is meaningless because
it has little or no value.
I realize this example turns the normal copyright situation on its
head, and kind of reverses the equities, but it brings to the
forefront something that is unfortunately true: namely, that a lot of
the energy expended in this argument is not energy that reflects
anything approaching economic efficiency, which is a good thing,
generally. Instead, it is energy that is being expended on a point of
personal privilege or right, which, while a good thing as well, can
become tedious when it is not grounded somewhere in economic reality.
I do not say that all personal rights bow to economic efficiency. I
do think, however, that if I wish to stand on a punctilio of
ownership, I would do best to make that clear on the thing I claim to
own. So, if you don't like thieves, engrave your stuff with your
name. And if you want to retain copyright to stuff posted to a public
forum, make it clear each time you post. Not doing so is going to
reduce the effectiveness of subsequent actions taken to preserve
whatever copyright protections you have.
This post is not intended to be argumentative or attacking. It is
simply a perspective on a thread I have found interesting. I hope
folks will find it interesting.
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