Monday, August 14, 2006

In the wake of last week’s cavorting about the country (fortunately just in time to avoid major pain the in the ass flight restrictions) I’ve been left thinking about copyright law since the project I was working on had something to do with this. A lot of people really aren’t aware of copyright law, and theoretically you’re supposed to pay some nominal amount of money (consider $0.02 for a page in a magazine) to a clearance house to make photocopies of something and pass it around the office. And online, just because you link to a source DOESN”T mean you have permission to copy and paste entire text, or really, any of the text. Now, with that said, it’s important to understand that they’re not really trying to “get” anybody, the idea is just to give authors the money they are owed for the use of their material. Especially if the end user is making money on it.

Lore Sjöberg has a theory entitled Doorbell Copyright. I will now copy and paste his own words and they will quickly explain themselves:

“When it comes to your own house, anybody has the right to come up on your property and ring your doorbell without asking first, and you in turn have the right to tell them to leave and not come back. I'm sure there are lots of exceptions and fine points there, but that's the basic idea.
My thought -- I can only speak for myself -- was that it would be nice to have a copyright license that works pretty much the same way: you can do what you want with my material without asking, but if I decide I don't like it you have to take it down and not do it anymore. (Excepting fair use, of course.)”

This idea is great—for people making websites where they don’t intend to profit but would like to attract new readers nonetheless. When other people copy your text and provide a link to your site, you’re going to draw more readers, or at least more traffic through your site. This and most blogs really fall under this umbrella.

And yes, it all ties into marketing. I want to market StephL as a product: when you read my blog you know you’ll get information on weird ads, some crackpot theories and the occasional photo commentary. I’m working on a layout that will be distinct and will remind readers that they’ve come to the right place and that great content they’ve grown to love will always be prevalent (that’s the fantasy in my head). I’m self-marketing. It probably disgusts a lot of people, but every artist does this, willing or otherwise.


Anonymous dan said...

first- copying a small bit of text, and copying a page from a magazine (depending on what you do with it) are allowed under fair use.
second- it is giving authors the money they are "owed" to the extent you subscribe to the rights they claim over their work. there are many alternate copyright schemes in existance, some very much like this doorbell idea. see copyleft, creative commons, etc.
one method i like is essentially "i think i deserve about 100$ for creating this book/album/whatever. once selling it has earned me 100$, i give up all rights to it and it goes into the public domain." there are a few small record labels/publishers working under this concept.
as a sidenote, the main flaw with the doorbell plan is "but if I decide I don't like it you have to take it down and not do it anymore." this would be okay online, i suppose, but what if i'd quoted you in a book instead of a blog? must i hunt down all copies of my book and tear out the relevent pages? once you give someone else a right to something, you can't take it back. they may have done something irreversable with it. and even if it's only quoting it in a blog- what if lore wanted you to take his idea out of this post? he's suddenly strolled in and ruined the flow of your writing and you have to go and redo it. no good.

1:13 AM  

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