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Copyright infringement


Trab

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I don't rightly know if this topic belongs here, since it is appropos in regards to the missing works by Drake Hunter, or in Blue's Closet. What I would like to know is peoples' feelings on copying works by an author, in 'normal' contravention of copyright laws, when it becomes obvious that a particular author's works may disappear althogether.

I read as much of Drake's stuff as I could find, and I have no way of knowing if there is a lot more, or only a little bit, but with the recent posts about his stuff disappearing from the online site, I revisited it, only to find it is truly gone. This means that, unless someone has a copy on their computer, those works are essentially lost to all potential future readers.

How do the copyright laws apply? If the author himself/herself wants it removed, that is obviously one consideration, but what if the author has escaped from criticism, or has for some other reason dropped out of view. Is it permissible to copy this material before it is removed from a website which is hosing it? After all, the copyright is that of the author, not of the website host.

If a copy of a story exists on someone's computer, is it legally or morally acceptible to privately pass it on to another? Does it require a 10 year wait, like in patent protection?

I would be very interested in knowing how you all feel about this. By the way, some authors don't 'do' copyright at all, so how does THAT fit into the mix/discussion?

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I don't rightly know if this topic belongs here, since it is appropos in regards to the missing works by Drake Hunter, or in Blue's Closet. What I would like to know is peoples' feelings on copying works by an author, in 'normal' contravention of copyright laws, when it becomes obvious that a particular author's works may disappear althogether.

On a personal level, I am totally and unequivocally opposed to the use of any author's work without his/her permission. Period and without exception.

Secondly, on a legal level (and I speak from the US only as I am not up on international law) in the United States it is FLAT OUT ILLEGAL (17 USC 501). The absence of a method of contact does not abdicate the rights afforded by modern copyright. One must assume the author is alive and therefore the copyright is inforce. Penalties are severe. (Although not conversant in international copyright law, I am familiar with these laws in a number of countries, and in most westernized countries, the laws are similar, especially in countries with US/UK style laws.)

This means that, unless someone has a copy on their computer, those works are essentially lost to all potential future readers.

That is correct.

s it permissible to copy this material before it is removed from a website which is hosing it? After all, the copyright is that of the author, not of the website host.

You may copy it to your PERSONAL computer for your PERSONAL use only UNLESS THE AUTHOR'S CONDITIONS EXPRESS FORBID IT. You may not post it. Note, for instance, my conditions on posting prohibit transmission of my story without my express written permission. That is a legally binding condition.

If a copy of a story exists on someone's computer, is it legally or morally acceptible to privately pass it on to another? Does it require a 10 year wait, like in patent protection?

Morally this is a grey area. Legally it's also grey. If I own a song by the Beatles on a CD and make a copy for my use, that is fair use. If I send it to my mother, that's a technical violation and is, in theory, legally a crime. However, from a practical standpoint, it's not morally an issue (unless money changes hand, in which case you're a felon). Making it available on your website is a crime. A song, book, story, or even piece of art are treated basically the same under copyright law.

I would be very interested in knowing how you all feel about this. By the way, some authors don't 'do' copyright at all, so how does THAT fit into the mix/discussion?

You may waive your rights under copyright law in any number of ways. If an author does that, then you can do anything except sell it (unless they SPECIFICALLY give you that right).

I always side with the copyright holder. For many years, my income was derived from copyrights I owned. As such I am familiar with the law and succesfully prosecuted a number of people who violated my copyrights. (These were financial issues so there was absolutely no grey area. If you take something that isn't yours and you sell it, you lose.)

To sum it up, I feel strongly. Violating someone's copyright speaks about your character as a person. And for the record, all my software and music is legal. I own nearly 1000 CDs and nearly 500 software programs -- all bought and paid for (I even pay for shareware).

You do not have to like or agree with my position. But it IS the law. (Disclaimer: this is a very simplistic view posted so as not to bore you to tears with the 8 million vagaries therein. Your mileage may vary. Do not ingest but if you do, induce vomitting. No refunds once seal is broken.)

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Without permission by the author, a website, entity, or an individual cannot post that author's works elsewhere.

-----

If I quote from an author for any other publication, I have to cite the author and title, at least, just like you learned in high school English class. This is to give credit to the author and so that readers/listeners can find the work when it interests them, to learn more.

If I use a photo, drawing, painting, chart, illustration, or audio or video, including segments, created by someone else, I have to credit it too. If I have the rights to use a stock photo/illustration or if it's in the public domain or if it is not for profit/resale, then I don't absolutely have to credit it, but it is still good form to do so.

It is even good form for me to put a credit in that says an image or other media item was created by me, the author, and is copyright by me as the author/creator/originator of the work.

Those credits are often put right beside the resource, or in notes on the copyright/bibliography page, title page, or in footnotes or liner notes.

If something doesn't include those credits, then the author and the publisher of the work that uses them is supposed to have written permission on file.

The public layman often isn't aware of any of this. People who work with media are supposed to know it, but even so, it is often ignored in practice.

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Wow. Cool. We don't even need to hear from any others, as you've both nicely outlined the situation. Exactly the kind of information I was looking for. Thanks.

BTW, I too, pay for all my music and programs. Somebody has to get paid, or we'd have nothing at all, except what we made ourselves. And it's only fair, too.

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Secondly, on a legal level (and I speak from the US only as I am not up on international law) in the United States it is FLAT OUT ILLEGAL (17 USC 501).

Pardon me, counselor, but let me offer a dissenting opinion.

I think when you have stories that are posted for free, read by a wide audience on the web, and then an author chooses to withdraw them, I'm not convinced it's a copyright infringement to repost them elsewhere on the web. I think one could argue it was a fair use, provided the story was never published commercially, that the words remain intact, with the author's copyright, and that no momentary gain occurs.

At best, it'd be a civil copyright infringement, not a criminal one, so all the author could do would be to sue. But that'd take a lot of time and money to do. And he'd still have to prove a financial loss, which would be difficult, given that the story was never commercially published. [i freely concede that I'm far from an attorney, though my longtime partner has a law degree, and I've had to testify a half-dozen times in some major copyright cases. At least one of them was significant, and went all the way to the Supreme Court. I'll omit those details for the moment, except to say I was a minor footnote in a pivotal copyright decision.]

I think I still have Drake's address, and I did correspond with him briefly when I first read Different Eyes a year or two ago. I suspect he would have no problem if the story was reprinted elsewhere, but I agree that morally, it'd be better to get his permission first.

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Pardon me, counselor, but let me offer a dissenting opinion.

I think when you have stories that are posted for free, read by a wide audience on the web, and then an author chooses to withdraw them, I'm not convinced it's a copyright infringement to repost them elsewhere on the web. I think one could argue it was a fair use, provided the story was never published commercially, that the words remain intact, with the author's copyright, and that no momentary gain occurs.

The bottom line, is you think incorrectly. The law says you are wrong. In US law, copyright begins immediately when you create it in a fixed and tangible form. So says US Copyright Office. You have full rights which means nobody can reproduce it without your permission UNLESS YOU SPECIFICALLY WAIVE THOSE RIGHTS. Mr. Pecman, sir, from a legal standpoint you are entirely incorrect.

And, indeed, if I took any one of your stories and posted it without your permission elsewhere, you have legal recourse. At the point it becomes financial, then it becomes a criminal matter.

You will notice numbers of authors exclude or explain conditions of using their work (or not) and that is a legal contract of a sort. You can waive your rights in them (some authors waive specific rights) but you cannot add rights that do not exist. Although not directly related this post is about newsgroup postings and might be of educational value.

Further the law says even if you MAKE NO FINANCIAL GAIN and the infringement is wilfull, you have comitted a crime. This section specifically related to online infringement.

And to everyone out there, I want to encourage you not to rely on legal advice except as given by an attorney. If you insist on relying on on-line law, please make sure your facts come from a ".gov" site as 2 of the 3 links above do. Never, ever, trust Google, Wikipedia, or any message board for legal advice. It's worth exactly what you paid for it: nothing.

(I do not want to pick on Pec 'cause I really like him, but this is the sort of "layman's interpretation of the law" that gets people in trouble. Remember, IGNORANCE OF THE LAW IS NO EXCUSE. If you break it, you're liable civilly and/or criminally.)

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Simmer down. My opinions aren't as absolute as yours. I see a lot of gray area here.

I think a novel case could be made that could turn this over as a decision. In other words, the written law may say one thing, but a good argument could be made that the law doesn't apply to a copyrighted work that is essentially "abandoned."

That's the key in this case. If somebody walks away from a copyrighted work, I think you can make a good argument that it's effectively in the public domain, particularly when it was never distributed commercially. Note that I never stated for a fact that it was public domain -- only that this is not a black and white issue, and that the possibility is there.

But let's go back to the original question: would the author mind if his stories continued to circulate on the Net? I checked my correspondence and saw that I had last attempted to contact the author four months ago, in December, with no luck. I'll try again and see if he's willing to reply.

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The Law Says Thusly: There is no recognition of a legal term abandonedment in copyright law. There is a long held concept of abandonment in trademark law, but it is a direct result of the infinite term of trademark protection. Currently, a copyright can be released into the public domain only if the owner clearly does so in writing; however this formal process is not considered abandoning, but rather releasing. Those who do not own a copyright cannot merely claim the copyright abandoned and start using it without permission of the copyright holder, who would then have a legal remedy.

However, the author owns the rights and may release them if he/she so desires. They last for life plus 70 years (for anything created after 1978). So we have a long wait ahead of us unless you can contact Mr. Drake. Honestly, I hope someone does because his works are enjoyable and I think we all agree on that. However, the law is quite clear. Whether or not you, I, or anyone else agrees with it. It's sort of like the speed-limit -- I entirely disagree with it, but when I disobey it, I have broken the law. No amount of arguing, rationalization will change that.

The Law Says Thusly: For works created after its effective date, the U.S. copyright law adopts the basic "life-plus-seventy" system already in effect in most other countries. A work that is created (fixed in tangible form for the first time) after January 1, 1978, is automatically protected from the moment of its creation and is given a term lasting for the author's life, plus an additional 70 years after the author's death. In the case of "a joint work prepared by two or more authors who did not work for hire," the term lasts for 70 years after the last surviving author's death. For works made for hire, and for anonymous and pseudonymous works (unless the author's identity is revealed in Copyright Office records), the duration of copyright will be 95 years from first publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter.

All of the above from the US Copyright Office website. So, the answer remains "no" -- there is no grey here. None. One cannot suppose one's wishes on an absent party in absence of a power of attorney.

Edited to add links (sorry): http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ15a.html

http://www.copyright.cornell.edu/training/...blic_Domain.htm

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The author still retains copyright to his or her work, even if the author has moved from an old street address, phone number, or email. The author might be in seclusion, living as a hermit, or what have you. He or she still has the copyright. Even if an author is deceased, the rights to the author's works carry over to the estate or legal heirs.

If an author gives permission, that's fine. If not, you've at the very least been discourteous. An author or his or her agent needs to give such permission directly, not secondhand.

Without contact, we can't assume that the author has "abandoned" anything. He could be sick, busy, fed up, or anything else. He has the right to withdraw from answering the public. He has the right not to repost his writing. Even if others don't like it, if it is his wish, then we should respect that. (I concede that we can't know his wishes without contact.)

To the original point: AwesomeDude is not going to repost Drake's work without permission directly from him, nor will other reputable sites.

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To the original point: AwesomeDude is not going to repost Drake's work without permission directly from him, nor will other reputable sites.

I would like to point out that the original post was not a suggestion or request to repost Drake's work. It was only it's disappearance from another site that made me question the general situation. It is obvious that the law is clear, and that it cannot be done. Sadly, this is actually more restrictive than hard and soft cover books, which can be placed in a library, sold second hand, or traded, even if they cannot be re-published or copied without the author's permission.

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While I may not have the background to address the legal issues here, I do know that Drake was a strong proponent of his rights under Copyright law. I suspect if his works were to be suddenly posted without permission, he would resurface quickly to take legal action against the appropriate person or persons.

Drake has completely dropped out of sight. His former site administrator, Lugnutz, is unable to contact him, as is someone he once counted as a brother, Dewey. If he won't respond to those folks, I doubt he'll respond to anyone else. Based on conversations with Dewey, Jeff, and Blue, I have my own ideas about why he dropped out of sight and will only say that while I respect his right to go his own way, I honestly wish things were different. Drake, like many of our fellow writers, is a rare talent, and one I personally miss greatly.

Abraxas

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I would like to point out that the original post was not a suggestion or request to repost Drake's work. It was only it's disappearance from another site that made me question the general situation. It is obvious that the law is clear, and that it cannot be done. Sadly, this is actually more restrictive than hard and soft cover books, which can be placed in a library, sold second hand, or traded, even if they cannot be re-published or copied without the author's permission.

Actually it's really not more or less restrictive.

If you buy a book that ONE SINGLE copy is yours. You may loan it out, you may rent it, or you may sell it. But you may not copy it or distribute that ONE COPY multiple times. (Replace book with movie or CD if you like). You have (with the publisher's permission) purchased a single license for a single copy. To have a contract, something of value must change hands -- which is why many contracts have a "for the sum of one dollar" clause in them Again this is a gross oversimplification, but I'm trying to make it easy to understand.

I don't want to bore people, but I'm hoping people begin to understand what you can and can't do. It's not complicated.

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To add further mystery to this situation, I noted that even web.archive.org (which generally has copies of every website that ever existed, for the past 10-12 years), does not have anything on DrakeTales.org. They advise that the site used a "robot exclusion" request so that their website would not be archived.

So it would seem that Mr. Drake no longer wants anybody to have copies of his work, from now on.

I have yet to receive an answer to my email from a few days ago, but I'll give it a little while longer before giving up.

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To add further mystery to this situation, I noted that even web.archive.org (which generally has copies)

Most news organizations (USA today, et al) also now have exclusion tags in their robot files. At least they disclose it. Many "complete" sites aren't complete and don't even explain what they do and don't include.

If anyone needs help with a ROBOTS.TXT file, I can give you easy instructions or just Google. It's great for stuff you don't wish archived.

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Uh, there's nothing too mysterious about using a meta tag to tell robots to buzz off, i.e., don't index, don't archive, don't follow links, etc. The robots.txt file is a little more arcane, but it does much the same.

There are situations where you don't want archiving and don't want robots to look at your pages: if pages aren't yet ready for the public; if they're private to a group or a client; and so on.

One other reason to ask not to archive or to ask for a frequent refresh is to make sure visitors get the most recent copy to their computer.

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Most news organizations (USA today, et al) also now have exclusion tags in their robot files. At least they disclose it. Many "complete" sites aren't complete and don't even explain what they do and don't include.

If anyone needs help with a ROBOTS.TXT file, I can give you easy instructions or just Google. It's great for stuff you don't wish archived.

Unfortunately/Fortunately (depending on your point of view, I guess) some search bots ignore the ROBOTS command. There's nothing to prevent a bot from scouring every site on the internet if that's what the source of the bot wants it to do. There are clever ways around it, like not including actual links on a home page, but most sites don't use those techniques.

Colin :wave:

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In DTP, If someone steals my work lets say overseas, It better be something very important just to sue is alot of money, first lawyers fee's and all, There are a few countries that allow you to use peer to peer programs. I believe more in shareware or freeware, like open office, I don't have it yet, but next computer I won't be buying ms office. I hate the Muisc association, bunch of scum bags, ripping ppl off, most artist get their money from concerts, corporation get the money from cd sales.

I buy all my stuff, I do download freewhere that is free, I find sometimes free software is better then the ones companies charge you. I buy my own fonts, I do however find most fonts that you buy is better then the free ones, I don't like drm technology, it screws up quality forces you to use a certin type of program, now with the new vista, everything is drmed, NO more trusting public, I don't see myself buying windows anymore.

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In DTP, If someone steals my work lets say overseas, It better be soething very important just to sue is alot of money, first lawyers fee's and all, There are a few countries that allow you to use peer to peer programs. I believe more in shareware or freeware, like open office, I don't have it yet, but next computer I won't be buying ms office. I hate the Muisc association, bunch of scum bags, ripping ppl off, most artist get their money from concerts, corporation get the money from cd sales.

I buy all my stuff, I do download freewhere that is free, I find sometimes free software is better then the ones companies charge you. I buy my own fonts, I do however find most fonts that you buy is better then the free ones, I don't like drm technology, it screws up quality forces you to use a certin type of program, now with the new vista, everything is drmed, NO more trusting public, I don't see myself buying windows anymore.

Yeah, DRM totally sucks. There's a mad rush to over-protect content that could end up preventing us from participating in forums like this one if it goes too far. Where the heck is "Fair Use"? God, do we need a new Supreme Court that thinks about balance between copyright holders rights and consumers/users rights. It's moving so far to the copyright holder end of the spectrum and the consumers/users are being left out.

Problem is, the next Apple OS is going to be just as DRM-crippled as Vista. Make sure you keep a full copy of the current version of OSX and/or WinXP Pro!

Colin :biggrin:

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Current copyright laws restrict subsequent creative use for the sole reason of protecting the owner of the copyrighted work.

Note: this does not necessarily mean the person who created that work.

Monopoly companies can and do buy 'rights' to everything from books and films as well as drug treatments and alternative fuels with the sole purpose of restricting or with-holding such items from benefiting anyone other than the entity holding the rights. More sinister is the with-holding of such advances and creations as would benefit mankind in general.

This is a corruption of the intent to protect the original creator of the work that copyright law supposedly seeks to serve.

The answer is to find a new way to reward creators of original work or work built on the achievements of others.

This thought does not sit well with the corporate mentality, as it would free the slaves of modern culture from building the pyramids of those corporations.

Conspiracy theory? I think it stopped being a theory sometime ago.

I repeat, we need to find some other way to pay our artists and other creative and inventive people so their work can be built upon without detriment to its intent or human existence.

I certainly do not think that will be easy.

In the mean time copyright laws will be ignored by those who can afford the lawsuits to fight off any claims.

It is also true that many artists are creating and performing works that are obviously in violation of copyrighted material, but do it on a such a small scale that no one cares. One must ask, though, "for how much longer?"

If I had the talent and the time, I would love to write Romantic symphonies based on themes from American musicals of the fifties and sixties. Such works would I believe be far more relevant to the cultural heritage of Mozart, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky than the current noise our orchestras and music lovers are being coerced to accept as progress.

Copyright makes such an idea highly improbable. Moreover copyright discourages true evolution of various art-forms by restricting access to past endeavours.

I would also like to write a (circular) satire about not being able to create something because copyright is held on everything by someone who won't do anything.

Where are the Monty Pythons when you them?

I do not mean to incite anyone to break the law but sometimes the law must be questioned and copyright laws certainly need to be questioned in the light of today's mass communications and controlling monopolies.

I vacate the soapbox.

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I agree with the sentiment Des. While the copyright laws were intended to protect the creator of the work, the purchase of that work by someone else who will not develop it for sale, or benefit, and refused to allow anyone else do to so is positively wrong. Even worse is the purchase of 'things' which have long been in existance, and are generally thought of as 'public', but which then are suddenly enforced due to the ownership of the copyright.

I am speaking very specifically about the world athletic events started in Greece many years ago, and which now have winter and summer events, each spaced 4 years apart from each other, but staggered by 2 years for the seasonals. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. China is having a summer one shortly, and there will be a winter one in British Columbia (Vancouver) in 3 more years. There are businesses in BC, Vancouver in particular, which have been operational for decades, and now, as these games approach, and publicity abounds, the Oly-----c Committee has started suing every business and organization which has the name of this famous set of games in its business in any way. Whether it is their registered name, part of their letterhead/logo, or whatever. And I'm not talking about the actual 5 ring logo, but the name itself. Furthermore, they've laid claim to the use of the actual year of the event in BC, so that nobody is permitted to use 20x0 except in newsbroadcasts specifically in reference to these games. As insane as it sounds, if I were to print a club newsletter, which said in it, "Club schedule of events for 2010", the club and I could, and sadly would, be sued by these idiots. This has already happened to people planning conventions for the years ahead.

This type of draconian action has me so upset that I won't have anything to do with these games, and as far as I'm concerned, they can go down in tears of redtape.

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I had no idea it had gone that far for the famous games and is certainly out of spirit with their origin. War use to stop for the original athletic events, it seems today the aim may be to start a war and battle it out in a court room.

I was surprised years ago that a certain film director whose name just happened to be the same as a historical figure who discovered a now famous land not too far from where you are, Trab, had successfully registered his name so no one else could use it. I don't know what happened (if anything) about that.

The mind boggles. :biggrin:

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To add further mystery to this situation, I noted that even web.archive.org (which generally has copies of every website that ever existed, for the past 10-12 years), does not have anything on DrakeTales.org. They advise that the site used a "robot exclusion" request so that their website would not be archived.

So it would seem that Mr. Drake no longer wants anybody to have copies of his work, from now on.

I have yet to receive an answer to my email from a few days ago, but I'll give it a little while longer before giving up.

True it's not in web.archive.org but the whole thing was in the google cache this past November. Someone gave me a link for a chapter to one of his stories and I found that every chapter of every story was in that cache at that time.

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