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Re: Authors Rights

Because I know at least some of my own limits, I've been keeping out of
this thread.  But I feel a need to respond to this, from Mike:

> 1) any publisher who consistently and deliberately claims to own material
> it doesn't in fact own is playing a dangerous game, wouldn't you think?

Sure, but you're twisting the question a bit -- it's not whether
publishers claim to own the work in question, but whether they claim to
have more control over its use than the law actually allows.

> How widespread could such naughtiness really be without it resulting in,
> at least, a widespread public outcry, and, more likely, litigation?

The answer is that it could be very widespread and, I believe, is.  This
is because neither most authors nor the general public has (have?) a very
clear understanding of how copyright law works.  Too many people think
that the copyright owner has the right to define appropriate use of the
copyrighted work -- hence, for example, the printed notices you see in
music that say "All copying of this music for any purpose whatsoever is
expressly forbidden," or click-through notices telling the user that
e-mail transmission of any part of a database is illegal, etc.  You cited
members of a focus group who said that they wouldn't hesitate to share
passwords, but that's not necessarily relevant to the copyright issue;
sharing passwords may be immoral and illegal, but it doesn't have anything
to do directly with copyright.  The relevant question would be whether
they understood that their rights as users of copyrighted material are
defined by the law, not by the copyright owners, and whether they know
what the law says.

Rick Anderson
Head Acquisitions Librarian
Jackson Library
UNC Greensboro
1000 Spring Garden St.
Greensboro, NC 27402-6175
PH (336) 334-5281
FX (336) 334-5399
(New and improved 1/99)

"Bad guys don't go to libraries."
            -- Bryan, age 3