Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(April 2001)

Indexed By Date: [Previous] [Next] Indexed By Thread: [Previous] [Next]

Subject: Re: "copyright but not control"
From: J C Lawrence <claw @ kanga . nu>
Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2001 01:40:34 -0700
To: Tom Neff <tneff @ panix . com>
Cc: List-Managers @ GreatCircle . COM
In-reply-to: Message from Tom Neff <> of "Thu, 26 Apr 2001 10:22:53 EDT." <438095272.988280573@localhost>
References: <438095272.988280573@localhost>

On Thu, 26 Apr 2001 10:22:53 -0400 
Tom Neff <> wrote:

> J C Lawrence <> wrote:
>> Tom Neff <> wrote:
>>> Copyright without control is a meaningless concept.
>> Di[s]agreed.  Copyright retains the concept of authorship.

> Simply "retain[ing] the concept of authorship" is not enough,
> because we already have a word for that: authorship!  

While I agree, there is no commonly (emotively) understood
requirement for the rights of authorship as distinct from the
commonly discussed topics of copyright, and I've found that many
consider them synonymous (a habit I've sloppily adopted).

> In most cases when a work is published, the primary protection
> against unauthorized use is not the cost of reproduction - since
> infringers are usually prepared to recoup their costs, as when you
> pay for a bootleg of BRIDGET JONES on a Canal Street sidewalk -
> but the potential cost of legal damages when action is taken.

This is specifically why I raised the specter of Napster-like
copyright infringement models, in the silent expectation that the
reader would understand that this extends to more
anonymous/protected systems ala FreeNet.

> Instead, the protection has been based on the pragmatic fact that
> it is hard to rip somebody off on a scale that generates useful
> profit or acclaim for me, the "Ripper," without you, the "Rippee,"
> eventually noticing... at which point the law is waiting on the
> Rippee's side.

While true, within the digital media discussion this is approaching
a moot point held back in the MPAA case by media/tramission size,
and in the very low bandwidth list message case, seems irrelevant.
While the questions of commercial exploitation (by the infringer) in
regards to copyright are historically interesting, in the specific
case under discussion (~0 cost digital duplication at ~individual
levels) it doesn't apply.

> There is no greater or lesser degree of control over their words
> that you, the list manager, are in a meaningful position to grant
> or deny them.

There are at least two ways of reading my screed:

  a) If you post on the list you are posting publicly and I as list
  ownr will do nothing to attempt to control the subsequent
  distribution of your message.


  b) Posting to this list is tantamount to placing your message in
  the public domain, and that is how you can expect the list owner
  and most others to view it.  Kiss your messages goodbye.

The truth is somewhere in between and is specifically defined by and
controlled not by law, but by what people will do.  The intent and
purpose is pragmatic and aimed at social engineering of list member
behaviour, not contractual definition.

> If you don't like the idea of getting IP lawyers involved, or if
> you don't think these fussy legal distinctions ought to matter...

For the record:  I consider that they matter a great deal.  

There are three aspects of this conversation which seem to be being

  -- My screed on what I expect of list members and its

  -- My views on the pragmatic application of copyright to digital

  -- The actual legal obligations regarding copyright of list owners
  in regard to the contents of their lists, and the management of
  those obligations.

My primary interest is in the first, especially in regard to other
texts that effectively mold the character of lists in useful
fashions.  The is mostly uninteresting, and came up in reactionary
fashion to various responses the screed without clearly defining the
difference between the two.  I suspect your interest in the third,
but I'm afraid that its not one that particularly interests unless
there's been a significant development that has changed the legal
structure of the field in the last 3 years (since I last surveyed

Going back to the record for purely selfish reasons: I find myself
straddling a dichotomy in that I am a firm believer in social
contracts who considers the attempt to apply copyright to digital
media as irrevocably flawed.  The fact that copyright provides a
license/contractual stucture leaves me with the problem that by
social contract I accept that license by participating in the media
while simultaneously considering that license to be effectively

> ...don't waste your members' time and your own constructing
> PSEUDO-legalese that will mostly serve to confuse people until the
> day it's casually shredded by opposing counsel...

Nahh.  See, here's one of the points where the expectation
establishing screed gets mixed up with personal views.

> Just run an open forum and trust in existing protections - it's
> likely to be more fun for all involved.

Except that that is not the purpose of the screed.

>> You can and should have reasonable expectations as to claims of
>> authorship, and that you can and will be identified with and
>> against any such message.

> I don't know what "identified AGAINST" means, but so long as your
> list mechanism retains whatever notice of authorship the member
> originally provided, you are covered.  

I look at identification as directional (I'm an engineer by trade).
On the one side is the ability to seek out and identify what items a
specific individual has written.  On the other side is the ability
to determine the author of a given item.  The difference is whether
you start with a written item of a potential author.

J C Lawrence                             
--=| A man is as sane as he is dangerous to his environment |=--

Indexed By Date Previous: Re: "copyright but not control"
From: J C Lawrence <>
Next: AOL Terms -- Revealed
From: Alan Clegg <>
Indexed By Thread Previous: Re: "copyright but not control"
From: Tom Neff <>
Next: Fwd: RFC 2919 on List-Id
From: Paul Hoffman / IMC <>

Search Internet Search