We just hate being contacted

The discussion about copyright, generally, and Creative Commons, specifically is continuing elsewhere, and I’m extremely pleased to see others speak out with their concerns, opinions, and questions.

In particular, I loved what Phil Ringnalda wrote today:

What strikes me as uproariously funny about the rush to CC license weblogs, though, is that probably the most useful feature of licensing something that you don’t mind having people use is the way that they don’t have to ask your permission before they use it. And you know how we all hate having people contact us, with our dozens of comment links and TrackBack URLS and semi-obfuscated email addresses and we-hope-it’s-spam-proof contact forms. I can’t think of anything more horrifying to a weblogger than to have someone contact them out of the blue and say “I liked something you did so well that I would like to use it myself, may I?” Why, I myself have twice had people ask if they could borrow a couple of sentences I wrote, and both times I found it a horrible imposition to have to reply, since I was entirely too busy dancing around the room shouting “someone actually asked to use those two sentences.

At this stage in the Practical RDF book, I needed the laugh this gave me. More importantly though, is that Phil made some excellent points in this posting and in the next one he wrote, where he commented on the confusing and conflicting copyright notices currently on Donna Wentworth’s Corante weblog, Copyfight.

It’s interesting but in regards to this issue, each of seems to have a different focus. Jonathon’s focus in his last posting related to this topic was about his proprietary view of his creative works. AKMA’s is on the length of copyright terms; while my focus, at this time, (and it looks as if Phil’s focus is the same as mine) tends to be on Creative Commons and my concern about people not fully understanding what this means to ‘give away’ what you write in your weblog.

It’s true that no one is forcing any of us to waive all or part of our copyright. But it does seem as if there is a great rush to plunk that CC graphic on one’s weblog, without a clear understanding of the effect of doing so. Unfortunately, there’s been less discussion about the negative impacts of a CC license than there are the glorious positive impacts. This is going to bite some weblogger in the butt someday.

For instance, did you know that you can copy a weblog that’s been donated to the public domain in its entirety, including look and feel, and all content, without having to give attribution? And that you can even charge for this writing?

Quick! Guess who wrote the following:

Bin Laden’s genius is inventing a new form of chess, one where countries are not sides in the contest but squares on the board. As in the game of chess, one must be willing to make unexpected sacrifices, and to know the opponent’s possible moves at least as well as you know your own. As for the rest of the rules, we can only guess. Obviously Muslim countries are all over the board, with Saudi Arabia, home of Mecca, at the center.

It is also obvious that bin Laden knows how to play our side at least as well as he plays his own. Why else would his pawns have been able to hijack four large passenger aircraft in one day and turn them into enormous missle bombs against American landmarks — all with horrifying efficiency?

It is finally safe to assume that right now he has a good idea what we’ll do next. And even if he doesn’t know what his side will do, he does know we won’t expect it.

So: if we kill him, will we have checkmate? Or will his side merely have sacrificed its queen?

Perhaps it will help if we give this game a more appropriate and realistic name — one closer to what bin Laden has in mind.

Let’s call it World War III.

To all intents and purposes, I don’t have to tell you who wrote this. So I won’t. Guess.

Legally I can put this into my weblog, take credit for the words by not attributing the words to another, plunk my own copyright on it, and I can freeze the use of these words where the original author can’t. All I have to do is change a few of the words, just enough to make it a derivation of the original, and therefore an ‘original’ creative work by me.

Is this legal? How do I know, I’m not a lawyer, but we’re being asked to assume some of the responsibilities of being lawyers in order to understand the impacts of the Creative Commons licenses on our weblogs, and other creative works.

Now you tell me that this isn’t a concept and a license and a movement that doesn’t have potential problems. And if you don’t see it then you go right ahead, put that weblog of yours into the public domain. And if you do, then can you send me a link to your weblog? I might need material for my own weblog in the future.

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