Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

A matter of double standards

(718)
  • Helge K. Fauskanger
    Nov 3, 2009 Expand Messages
    View Source
    • 0 Attachment
      Bottom of Form

      To start with the very end of Philipp’s letter:

      >I encourage Helge to join this list and discuss the matter here, so he
      can defend himself properly.

      Philipp, Philipp -- I have _always_ been on this list! The list-owner’s
      pieces over the years have often been priceless, and I wouldn’t miss
      them for the world. I remember eagerly opening each new mail from
      Elfling-d, expecting a great laugh, and I was rarely disappointed. Your
      own outpourings don’t quite measure up, I’m afraid.

      You will, however, forgive me that I hesitate (to say the least) to
      actively _contribute_ to a list which by the obvious intention of its
      founder exists only to criticize David Salo and myself. But this time I
      will actually make one single posting of my own. You see, I have reason
      to be somewhat grateful to you! Let me get back to that.

      As “Bill” (Welden?) wrote, the copyright debate is old news indeed.
      Every conceivable argument has been debated ad nauseam long ago,
      presumably when you were still a kid (as suggested by the fact that even
      now, you sometimes have trouble presenting “ur thought’s” in something
      like standard English spelling). As for the alleged “flames” you omitted
      from my private letter to you, I asked you to properly identify yourself
      with your full name and address. Since you are not man enough to do
      this, you would seem to lack the courage of your oh-so-bold convictions,
      meaning that you are not really worthy of more of my time, either.
      Nevertheless, let me have a look at the points you raised, and then I
      will leave you and the list-owner to make whatever noises you must. I
      believe you deserve one another.

      Whether you could call a newly-invented car “Aragorn” is quite
      irrelevant (we are not discussing trademarks here, but simply words as
      such). You could most definitely call your SON Aragorn; there are
      already lots of people named after LotR characters. (Almost
      unbelievably, several Swedish couples have even named their son
      “Sauron”!) And if even proper names cannot be protected (simply as
      NAMES, not as trademarks), what do you think the chances are of
      “copyrighting” common nouns, verbs, prepositions and the like?

      An even better example than “robot” would be the very word “hobbit”:
      Notice the ease with which the word was adapted by international media
      as a popular name of the small humans whose remains were found on the
      island of Flores. The lawyers of the Tolkien Estate could probably jump
      up and down until their faces turned blue; they would be quite powerless
      to stop such real-world use of a word Tolkien coined.

      Quenya, or Neo-Quenya if you insist, does to some extent exist as a
      literary language. If anybody wants to call a tree an “alda” or a house
      a “coa”, and even writes out a wordlist presenting words he happens to
      know, I think it would take a very bold “Estate” of any description to
      try to reassert exclusive ownership over a nebulous mass of unconnected
      words-as-words.

      > Since Helge is apparently afraid of presenting his thoughts and
      standpoints on this list, he rather chooses to attack me via e-mail.

      Remind me again…which one of us turned up in a public forum and started
      insisting that the other had broken the law and acted immorally? And who
      simply wrote to the other, in private, and asked the real attacker to
      properly identify himself? (Tellingly, that is pretty much all Philipp
      has omitted from my letter, except for a final paragraph where I once
      again addressed his claim that I am supposedly quite uninterested in
      Tolkien’s early material: I pointed out to him that I worked out a
      complete English-Gnomish dictionary long ago, based on material that is
      as early as it gets, but I haven’t made it public since the likes of
      Philipp and his obvious role-models would then make a lot of noise about
      that as well.)

      Philipp’s impression of the Átaremma affair is just as inaccurate and
      biased as it has to be, given his stated sources (including “Elfling-d”
      and “comments by Carl Hostetter”, indeed!) Even when that story was
      actually unfolding, I was struck by how inadequately informed members of
      Editorial Team seemed to be, as if the quality of their communication
      with the Tolkien Estate left much to be desired. (Conversely, the Estate
      did not always seem clearly informed about what the Editorial Team was
      planning, either. It was possibly _I_ who first told the central Estate
      attorney that the Team intended to publish the Átaremma text in the next
      issue of Vinyar Tengwar: At least I got the impression from her next
      letter that it had been necessary for her to make sure that this was
      really the case!)

      The notion that I in any sense “threatened (even with a lawyer) the
      Estate and Christopher Tolkien” is so far removed from reality as to
      warrant no comment. It was in any case the other party that first
      brought in lawyers, yet you don’t see me whining about how the Estate
      supposedly “threatened” me.

      That tiny piece that was already floating around (not by my doing), the
      Átaremma, was indeed a “text”, brief though it was. Surely it was
      technically “copyrighted”, just like your grocery list is technically
      copyrighted -- so the real question is whether my use of it counts as
      fair use. As my attorney pointed out to the Estate, this text was 1)
      simply the translation of a public-domain text, not something Tolkien
      had actually authored; 2) it was only part of a larger cycle of versions
      which the Estate would publish as a whole (as they informed us in their
      very first letter), 3) it was a work of calligraphy, but I did not
      include a facsimile in my article and so omitted that aspect of the
      work. (Indeed, I first approached the Estate to ask their permission to
      include the calligraphy, and I fully respected their refusal.)

      The naked words I analyzed in my article were therefore only a part of a
      much larger whole, and my attorney pointed out to the Estate that
      American copyright legislation does not necessarily rule out making
      limited use of parts of a work in the context of scholarly analysis,
      even if the work as a whole was previously unpublished.

      That, Philipp, is what we “were thinking”. My attorney indeed suggested
      that I should go ahead and publish right away. As it happened, I
      _voluntarily_ delayed publication so that my work for all intents and
      purposes appeared simultaneously with the “official” publication in
      Vinyar Tengwar.

      If I had not done what I did, I am tolerably sure that these texts would
      still be unpublished almost a decade later. If we had been able to exert
      a little healthy pressure on the Estate and/or the Team more often, it
      may be suspected the “official” publication process would progress
      rather more speedily, unlike the current situation when not a single
      iota of new material has appeared for 2.5 years. Notice that when these
      religious texts were published in Vinyar Tengwar, the editor actually
      managed to produce all of _two_ issues in one year, a feat he has never
      managed to repeat without an external incentive like the one I provided.

      The Tolkien Estate did nothing when I finally did publish. If you are so
      deeply unhappy about this, Philipp, maybe you should write to _them_ and
      try to convince them that they should belatedly be suing me?

      Indeed, according to you, all of Ardalambion exists solely at the mercy
      of the Tolkien Estate. Yet they did not bring up the issue of my website
      even when _I_ contacted _them_! Is it not time for you to write to the
      Estate and tell them how wonderfully clear-cut all the legal issues
      really are? After all, Philipp, you have been able to acquire certain
      supreme judicial insights from a highly qualified source that must
      surely be far superior to the mere attorney I talked to (“I want to
      indicate that Carl Hostetter has pointed out in detail the copyright
      issues on elvish.org as well on this list” -- asking about Mr.
      Hostetter’s legal qualifications would of course be impolite).

      Well, Philipp, you are arguing (basically rightly) that texts are
      copyrighted. There is, one must be forgiven for pointing out, a slight
      irony involved here: You do so in the context of a letter where you
      publish a full 327 words of completely original text written by _me_ (as
      opposed to some public-domain text I had merely translated). Thus you
      failed to ask my permission to publish a text almost five times longer
      than the Átaremma.

      Unlike my treatment of the latter, what you published was not a
      _limited_ portion of a much larger cycle of texts including many
      variants, drafts, calligraphy etc. You reproduced quite exactly _half_
      of the amount of original text in my letter. Furthermore, I hardly
      insult anyone by pointing out that your own interspersed comments cannot
      well be counted as textual scholarship. Thus, if we are to go by your
      very own supposed principles, I should now be crying to heaven about how
      my “intellectual property” has been violated and my “intellectual work”
      illegally published.

      Since this in itself gives away that you are not thinking terribly
      clearly, I am not going to spend more time on a (likely quite young)
      person who needs to sit down and think through his principles anyway.
      You will not give me your full name and address, and rest assured that I
      don’t consider it worthwhile to have my attorney trace you via your
      e-mail. If I change my mind it will be because of your slander and
      assaults on my character, not your (don’t make me laugh) “copyright
      violation”!

      Anyway, I shall have to take into account that I actually owe you one,
      Philipp. You see, there is another person involved here as well.

      Perhaps -- I suspect for natural reasons -- you can’t be expected to
      know what went on in the field way back in 1996. In the autumn of that
      year, David Salo included a rather harmless 24-word quote from one of
      Carl F. Hostetter’s e-mails in one of his TolkLang posts. This promptly
      made our current list-owner insist (in TolkLang message 21.09) that
      David had “unquestionably violated copyright laws by publishing my
      private e-mail to him without my permission”!

      And of course, Hostetter has later had _very much_ to say about how
      authors (and/or their descendants) should have complete control over
      their texts.

      In our current case, Philipp, I have deliberately waited for more than a
      week: I wanted to see whether the founder of this list would now
      reprimand you for publicly quoting long excerpts from a private letter
      without the permission of its author. You did, after all, reproduce more
      than _thirteen_ times as much text as David’s 24-word quote that once
      made our list-owner go ballistic about how copyright laws had
      “unquestionably” been violated. Indeed, based on his seemingly clear
      statements in the past, one would expect him to promptly delete your
      entire post from the Elfling-d archive.

      Obviously, no such action has been taken:

      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/elfling-d/message/717

      So as I go back to lurking, Philipp, allow me to congratulate you: You
      deserve full credit for exposing the utter hypocrisy and obvious double
      standards of Carl F. Hostetter! THANK YOU!

      Yours,
      Helge K. Fauskanger
      Webmaster of Ardalambion
      Compiler and Maintainer of Quettaparma Quenyallo and Quettaparma Quenyanna

      P.S. No, Carl dearest -- Philipp and I actually were NOT working
      together the whole time, with this outcome in mind! It just looks that
      way to a suspicious person.
    • Show all 2 messages in this topic