Monday, September 29, 2008

On Copyright

Yesterday's post Values v. Reality prompted unpleasant comments from a reader, which led to the following email exchange with the editorial page editor of the Roanoke Times. I like the part about being polite.

RT: It is better form when reprinting commentary from another source to excerpt it with a link to the full piece.

Me: I am quite aware of good form, fair use and copyright, and usually do run just excerpts with links (e.g., my two blog posts today). However, since I had permission from Janis Jaquith--who I assume holds the copyright to her essay--to post her piece in full, I did so. If my assumption is incorrect, please let me know and I will revise the offending post.

RT: It's not a big deal to me one way or the other. We have no objection to people reprinting commentary with appropriate credit, which you gave. A reader wrote us, however, offended on our behalf by what you had done, so I thought I'd just drop you a polite note. Again, it's not a big thing to me either way.


Janis Jaquith said...

I hold the copyright to my commentaries, and I'm delighted when the opportunity arises to attract more eyeballs to what I have written.

When Bella asked permission to post my latest one on her blog, I was flattered and didn't hesitate to say, in effect: You betcha.

Bella's readers are smart, sassy, and have a sense of humor. What writer would pass up the chance to reach such an audience?

The sun is setting over the Blue Ridge as I type this:
Shanah Tovah!

Bella Stander said...

Thanks, Janis. How I miss the Blue Ridge! (Yeah, I know the Rockies are spectacular, but I prefer the Appalachians.)

Troy Bierkortte said...

As the originator of the "unpleasant comments", I would like to take this moment to say why.
Writers, including Ms. Jaquith, deserve to be paid for their work. Though they hold the copyright to their work, they often sell or give the rights to publish that work.
I unabashedly stand up to preserve the value of those rights, by insisting that those who have bought and sold them be treated equitably. Though she rightfully retains her copyright, she did sell the rights to reprint that essay - at least for a period of time - to the Roanoke Times. It was their permission that was required to reprint this article for as long as they hold the entitlement for which they paid.
Having said that, I'm very happy to see that all parties are in agreement in this case. Often, this is not so. In the usual case, the article is lifted in its entirety without the knowledge or consent of either the author or the publication from which it was copied. The rights of both the author and the publication are abridged when that happens.
So, I offer my apology for having been unpleasant, and I hope that all will understand that I only intended to stand up for the rights of writers to control the use of their work, and the rights of those who have paid for the right to use it.

Janis Jaquith said...

This reminds me of the classic Groucho Marx line wherein he refers to Margaret Dumont, saying, "Remember, you're defending this woman's honor (which is probably more than she ever did!)"

Thank you, Troy, for defending my honor.