Yo-ho! Yo-ho! The pirate’s life ain’t for me!

Last Friday I wrote to Miss Snark to ask her opinion on the posting of other artists’ works on one’s blog.  You can read her response in her post Is Miss Snark Headed for Oz?” on July 21, 2006.

Regardless of what others might choose to do, I am strongly inclined to agree with Miss Snark in principle, if not in practice.

I feel that my inclinations are correct, as reaffirmed by Miss Snark’s response: I shouldn’t be posting the material of others, regardless of whether or not I present the copyright information and say nice things about the work, unless I have received specific permission to do so from the author/translator/copyright holder.

You can read about copyright information and fair use at many places online, and I found a lot of good, straight forward information at Stanford University Libraries Copyright & Fair Use Center.

No, I don’t think that Li-Young Lee is going to come knocking on my door, cracking his knuckles, or that Han-Shan is even turning over in his grave at my choice to share his translated words with you: but for me, this is an important matter of principle.  Unless I have the opportunity to request permission specifically from an author, I won’t be reprinting entire works at Brainripples.

Of course, this throws a big ol’ rusty wrench in my plans for discussions of poetry.  Regardless, I think I’m going to feel a lot more confident about the Brainripples blog if I follow my instincts and only quote small passages, and provide you with information for where you can go to find the entire work.  I request that people respect my work, and in turn I choose to respect the works of others.


10 Responses to Yo-ho! Yo-ho! The pirate’s life ain’t for me!

  1. Trailhead says:

    Yours is an ethical stand. As a photographer who’s also a lawyer, I’m often deeply disconcerted to see how little consideration there is for artistic ownership on the net. Yes, I know there are profound philosophical differences surrounding our intellectual property laws, but the laws are what they are, and should be respected.

    When I spend hours in subzero weather or breathing the smoke from a forest fire while trying to capture a photograph, it’s a bit of a slap in the face to have someone appropriate it without even asking. And really, for many artists, a mere request for permission to use a work will get you what you want.

    Putting it on the net shouldn’t — and legally, doesn’t — mean you’ve donated your work to the public domain.

  2. Flood says:

    You can still link to those who reprint with permission?

  3. Trailhead says:

    Taking off my lawyer hat, since I’m not an intellectual property lawyer by any stretch, but here is an interesting article on the IP implications of linking generally. I don’t know how up to date — and therefore how accurate — the information in the article is, but it might be worth a read.

  4. frankengirl says:

    Ah, you must follow your instincts! And I like how make a note of mutual respect. Treat others as we wish to be treated is usually a good rule of thumb.

    Wonderful to see you writing away!

  5. Bernita says:

    It’s a thorny problem

  6. Loree Lough says:

    Borrowing other authors’ written words and giving proper credit has long been standard policy for writers. If somebody thinks my stuff is good enough to quote, and they’re honest enough to give me proper credit, I’m honored…and flattered. I welcome (heck, I invite!) this method of free publicity.

    But that particular practice isn’t at the root of today’s plagiarism problems. Taking somebody else’s property–whether it’s written/published words or a jacket from a restaurant coat room–is stealing. And stealing is a CRIME. (In the eyes of most of decent human beings, it’s also a sin.)

    Having experienced first-hand what it’s like to have my hard work stolen and passed off as the thief’s, I understand only too well the frustration, anger, and helplessness plagiarized authors feel.

    Yeah, living by the Golden Rule is a great idea, and it’s long been my motto. But it’s a scary world out there; what choice do I have but face a cold, ugly fact: Today’s world is overpopulated by parasites who don’t feel even a twinge of guilt when they take what isn’t theirs and claim it as their own, no matter how many favors you’ve done for ’em, no matter how many years you’ve befriended ’em.

    So what do I DO about it? Take him to court and fritter away hard-earned dollars? Confront him, hoping for satisfaction, at least, through his admission of guilt? Ain’t gonna happen! (What I got, instead, was the standard narcissistic “I’m innocent, and YOU have a paranoia problem” reaction.)

    Surviving a go-’round with a ‘the world is my oyster and I’m entitled to all the pearls’ leech taught me I can’t let it get to me, cuz another cold, hard fact of life is…he ain’t a-gonna change. If I let the experience ‘jade’ me, I’m the only one paying a price for his crime.

    Instead of vengeance, or wasting even one precious moment wondering WHY he feels no tug of conscience, taking what’s mine and passing it off as his own (and profiting professionally and financially from it!), I take comfort in the ‘What goes around, comes around’ adage.

    All crimials think they’re above the law, smarter than the rest of us, able to avoid being seen for who and what they are, inidefinitely…with no price to pay….and this one is no exception. But that haughty, superior mindset is what tripped up scumsuckers like Ted Bundy and that Enron bastard, and sooner or later, it’ll trip up “my” plagiarist, too.

    When it does, THAT’s when I’ll get my satisfaction!

  7. JLB says:

    Trailhead, thanks for weighing in on this one, and for the link to the article. This issue has been on my mind since I started the Brainripples blog, and I finally just had to make the call. It’s encouraging to hear the different perspectives, approaches, and attitudes of other artists out there.

    Flood, I’ve certainly considered the possibility of linking to poems posted with permission. For example, I can find a couple poems by Li-Young Lee online, including some audio recordings of him reading his own work (excellent). In the future, I may do this from time to time, but as has been my common practice (and to answer the issues raised in the article Trailhead linked us to), I’ll likely include a root homepage along with a specific page.

    FrankenGirl, it’s so good to hear from you! Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂

    Bernita, you are so right. I have waffled on this one for a while… you know, my blog and I are pretty small fry, but I realized that when I post work by others, it’s up there for anyone to stop by and read (or poach). As you said, it’s a sticky situation, and for now this is where I choose to stand on it. That doesn’t mean that I can’t start writing to various authors/publishers and requesting permissions!

    Loree Lough, thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I can only imagine how frustrating if not damaging it could be to have one’s work stolen and/or misused. Even though that would not be my intent by posting poems I like, I have little to no control over the actions of those who my stop by my blog. Going forward, I intend to ensure that I have at least acquired proper permissions to post entire works. Small quotes will be included with complete credits as before! Thanks for visiting. 😉

  8. eric keast says:

    My take:

    I try and cite everyone’s works (written, graphic, ideas) that I refer to or post on my site. In return, I ask for attribution and credit for my work; free for reuse and remix as long as it is not for commercial use (no t-shirts 4 sale without some kick back).

    Impossible to enforce, but I’m invoking karma and expecting long-term recognition.


  9. […] [I have removed this poem per my discussion about copyrights and fair use which you can read about on Tuesday, July 25, 2006.  If you want to read this poem, I encourage you to visit your local library and grab a copy of the book cited below!] […]

  10. […] work from content theft online Way back when Brainripples first sprouted, I told you that the pirate’s life just isn’t for me.  I respect other people’s work, and I request permission before I use another person’s […]

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