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Re: [mythsoc] Re: [IAFA-L] LeGuin: "Those Who Walk Away from Omelas."

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  • Wayne G. Hammond
    ... As a matter of fact, they were, though at the time, and for many years thereafter, this was an arguable point. The validity of Tolkien s American copyright
    Message 1 of 8 , Aug 16, 2001
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      Wendell wrote:

      >You use an inaccurate analogy when you quote Tolkien from the preface to the
      >Ballantine edition. The Ace editions were not in violation of copyright
      >laws. They may have shown that the copyright laws were so badly written at
      >the time that they allowed works to lose their copyright status for absurd
      >reasons, but Ace wasn't violating any laws in their editions.

      As a matter of fact, they were, though at the time, and for many years
      thereafter, this was an arguable point. The validity of Tolkien's American
      copyright for _The Fellowship of the Ring_ and _The Two Towers_ was finally
      adjudicated and upheld in 1992 and 1993, the issue having been forced into
      court by a book packaging firm named Ariel Books. The court decided that
      these works had never lost American copyright. _The Return of the King_ was
      a separate case, copies having been imported into the U.S. without a filing
      of _ad interim_ copyright; but it wouldn't do a publisher much good to
      publish only one-third of _The Lord of the Rings_. For a more extensive
      comment on these points, see a post I sent in 1996 to the cni-copyright
      list, archived at
      http://www.cni.org/Hforums/cni-copyright/1996-01/0563.html. This was in
      response to someone who had intended to post the Ace Books _Lord of the
      Rings_ complete on the Web, wrongly believing that edition to be in the
      public domain.

      Since the court decision and affirmation of 1992-3, U.S. copyright law has
      changed again, to bring it closer into accord with European practice, and
      under this revision the Tolkien Estate was able to reaffirm any of
      Tolkien's American copyrights that were in question. Thus the rather
      convoluted copyright statements one sees in more recent printings of
      Tolkien in the U.S., for example the new Houghton Mifflin printings of _The
      Hobbit_ (with Peter Sis covers).

      Wayne Hammond
    • David S. Bratman
      ... Wendell, Wendell, keep your shirt on. First and least important, it s not a one-page story. Appearance on web pages is misleading. In print, in ordinary
      Message 2 of 8 , Aug 16, 2001
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        At 06:49 AM 8/16/2001 , Wendell Wagner wrote:
        >In a message dated 8/15/01 12:01:42 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
        >dbratman@... writes:
        >
        >> Besides the fact that you cannot trust such sources, even if they were
        >> legal, to get the text correctly, those who approve of courtesy (at least)
        >> to living authors will not do their reading in such a flagrantly
        >> copyright-violating manner.
        >
        >Give us a break here. You, Mary, I, and most of the people on this mailing
        >list first read the story in a book years ago that we did pay for (or perhaps
        >which the library did pay for). You want her to pay at least $20 to find a
        >used copy of one of the books that contains the story or to buy one of those
        >in print that contains the story? (The only books in print that I found in
        >my search that have the story were college English anthologies, and those
        >tend to be rather expensive.) It's a one-page story.

        Wendell, Wendell, keep your shirt on. First and least important, it's not
        a one-page story. Appearance on web pages is misleading. In print, in
        ordinary type size on an ordinary page size, it's 5-7 pages. But that's
        not important because copyright law is very clear: the length of the work
        doesn't matter. A one-stanza poem is as deserving of copyright protection
        as an 800-page epic.

        Secondly, I am not asking anyone to pay $20. As Stephen points out, and as
        could have been inferred from my earlier post, used copies of books with
        the story are plentiful and cheap. And then there is the word you use
        yourself: "library".

        Thirdly, I first read the story in a copy of _Wind's Twelve_ that I bought
        myself. But that's unimportant too: I could indeed, as many have done,
        read it in a library. Wendell, here's a fact I thought you'd be aware of:
        library-owned copies of legitimately-published books are legal.
        Unauthorized web copies of copyrighted material are not. Borrowing and
        reading library books abets legal activity. Reading illegal web pages does
        not.

        >I wasn't even looking for an online copy, but when I put the title of the
        >story into Google, those two URL's were near the top of the search engine.
        >The story is so short that just in glancing through the website to figure out
        >what it contained, I had to read the whole story.

        Possession of stolen goods is a felony. That's not to say that reading an
        illegal web page is itself illegal, though referring people to them might
        be. It's just to say that this line of reasoning ("Honest, officer, this
        tv set just fell off the back of a truck!") is specious.

        >Look, I'm not very happy
        >either about the fact that the Internet makes it easy to illegally reproduce
        >material that's still in copyright, but what am I supposed to do about it?

        How about averting your eyes when you see something to which evidently you,
        as well as I, object; and avoiding aiding and abetting a crime by passing
        on the URLs in a public forum?

        >One of those two URL's that has the story is in Russia. Do you want me to
        >call in a air strike against the computer that contains the story? Lecturing
        >people against reading webpages when they have easy access to them is pretty
        >useless.

        Read what I said: "those who approve of courtesy (at least) to living
        authors will not do their reading in such a flagrantly copyright-violating
        manner." Nothing about air strikes. Nothing even about legal action.
        Just a request for readers to pay courtesy to a living author. (I didn't
        even go so far as to extend that to dead authors, though I could have.)

        Perhaps that is useless, as you say. If the readers of this list have no
        consciences, it may well be. But I hope they are better human beings than
        that, and even if not, it still needs to be done. Moral protests are often
        useless in the short run. But look at any moral campaign in human history,
        and you'll see that it began with protests of practical uselessness.

        And if one sentence is a "lecture", what on earth have _you_ written?
        (Yes, I know, in that case I'm writing one too: but I'm not the one who
        objected to lectures.)

        >Perhaps the whole Internet should be re-organized so that material
        >in copyright isn't available for free (and perhaps, even better, it should
        >have short stories like this one available for download for a small price),
        >but I can't make that happen.

        I agree, and I'm not asking you to make it happen. Just asking to avoid
        aiding and abetting a crime.

        >Besides, there are lots of stories and novels available on the Internet that
        >are out of copyright, and there's no easy way to tell from most of these
        >sites which contain material in copyright and which contain stuff out of
        >copyright.

        It is easy to tell: use reputable sites. If you can't tell those by
        looking at them, I don't have time now to give a lesson in the elementary
        evaluation of web-site reliability.

        >In any case, please go ahead and inform Le Guin's people that
        >"The Ones That Walk Away from Omelas" is available on those two websites.
        >Perhaps they have enough clout to get them to take down the stories.

        By my arguments I should do that. But it shouldn't be necessary: all
        agents and publishers of any sense regularly troll the web for copyright
        violations.

        >You use an inaccurate analogy when you quote Tolkien from the preface to the
        >Ballantine edition. The Ace editions were not in violation of copyright
        >laws. They may have shown that the copyright laws were so badly written at
        >the time that they allowed works to lose their copyright status for absurd
        >reasons, but Ace wasn't violating any laws in their editions.

        I didn't really draw an analogy: I borrowed Tolkien's words because they
        were appropriate, but did not specify that the cases were identical other
        than the words being appropriate, leaving the analogy-drawing to the
        reader's conscience.

        As Wayne points out, Ace was judged in the end to have violated copyright
        law; and they admitted moral culpability when they first agreed, back in
        1965 or '66, to cease printing their edition and to pay royalties to
        Tolkien. But, as Wayne also observed, the matter was rather more
        questionable at the time. Which is why Tolkien argued in terms of courtesy
        and not in terms of law.

        And for that reason, the words I used are if anything _more_ appropriate in
        Le Guin's case than in Tolkien's. They both have clear moral cases, but
        Tolkien had a questionable legal case: Le Guin has an ironclad legal case.

        And lastly, as I said before: totally apart from legal arguments, there is
        no guarantee that an illegal web copy has a reliable or accurate text. In
        fact there's a quite good likelihood that it doesn't. Even if you haven't
        a moral bone in your body, your scholarly bones should tell you not to rely
        on dubious texts from Russia.

        David Bratman
      • Stolzi@aol.com
        In a message dated 8/16/01 8:51:35 AM Central Daylight Time, ... Not a bad place for it to be read. Personally I am thinking that the story is worth re-reading
        Message 3 of 8 , Aug 16, 2001
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          In a message dated 8/16/01 8:51:35 AM Central Daylight Time,
          WendellWag@... writes:

          > One of those two URL's that has the story is in Russia.

          Not a bad place for it to be read.

          Personally I am thinking that the story is worth re-reading just now, in the
          flush of discussions on stem-cell research, cloned embryos and the like.

          Mary S
        • Stolzi@aol.com
          In a message dated 8/16/01 11:35:20 AM Central Daylight Time, ... My Ghu! He s talking about ME~!!! Diamond Proudbrook
          Message 4 of 8 , Aug 16, 2001
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            In a message dated 8/16/01 11:35:20 AM Central Daylight Time,
            dbratman@... writes:

            > Even if you haven't
            > a moral bone in your body,

            My Ghu! He's talking about ME~!!!

            Diamond Proudbrook
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