..::|:.: Scattered Words

"in brokeness, I could see, that this was your will for me..." :: Jeremy Camp

6.12.2004

A lesson.

Once again, I must diverge from my intended purpose of this blog for a moment. It's to provide a quick lesson in copyright law.

Bill is upset because he wrote about me, and I quoted him. Bill wrote me an e-mail (two actually) telling me how much he didn't like it. I didn't respond to his e-mails, but I'll respond now. He and Steve seem to be buddies, as I found this on a comment thread at Steve's site:
... I gave so called "Ben" permission to steal that quote from me after the fact. It then told me some nonsense about US copyright law. ... your Yankee law has no effect on me and I [will] sue it if it published any more of my comments. I have had no response as of yet from "Ben" it has now provided a link from my quote to my site which was not there when it orginally lifted it....

Ignoring the fact that he calls me it, there a couple things I need to correct here.

First, no where in his e-mails did he threaten to sue me. Second, the link (and his name) where there from the beginning. Whenever I quote someone, I always link to the original source in some way so you can read their words in their full glory. He is right about falling under international copyright agreements (in his e-mail he says international "law", but there isn't really law per se).

What is the international agreement? It's the Berne Convention for the Protection of Artistic and Literary Works, as revised (created in Paris in the 70s, I think). It's a big declaration, but the important part is found in article 10 paragraph 1:

"It shall be permissible to make quotations from a work which has already been lawfully made available to the public..."

I don't need to say anymore about that. One could argue that Bill has usurped my "right to publicity" by writing about me, especially since I'm not a public figure in regard to this blog. But that would be almost as absurd as saying quoting him is "theft" of his property. But wait, Bill does say that, here:

"...direct theft of intellectual property from my site."

Yes, he's upset about all seven words (and amount used is a valid fair use consideration for the courts).

Now there is a very, very simple way for Bill and others whom don't like being quoted to solve their problem. Don't write about me, and I won't have anything to quote. I wonder if Bill knows that falsely accusing someone of committing and indictable offense such as theft, is slander per se -- an actionable defamation (though copyright violations have to be pretty big before they become criminal actions as opposed to civil). Not that I'd ever split hairs like that or anything. I just get tired of all the nonsense.

I guess though, if Bill had his way, anyone could say anything they want about me and I wouldn't have the right to respond, because I'm not allowed to quote. I know, it sounds rediculous, but what else am I to think when I'm told I've stolen someone's property when all I've really done is defend myself by calling him out?

In the post Bill is worried about, he quotes The Promise Tree. I'm planning to write an e-mail and ask the good folks there if he asked their permission first. I'll let you know how they respond. I assume he has, since he's jumped all over me about it.

I also considered posting Steve's e-mail here for you all, since he did me the courtesy on his own site. But since he posted my old e-mail incorrectly (which is still on my old comments here), I'll save that for a rainy day.

Let's all remember, I didn't ask any of you to write anything about me. Though I do enjoy reading it.