Ming the Mechanic:
Permissions and copyrights

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Permissions and copyrights2002-12-28 15:32
picture by Flemming Funch

The publishing world is giving itself a lot of extra work because it hasn't yet discovered stuff like Creative Commons. I was just contacted by a major book publisher that wanted to get permission to use something I've written in a book of theirs. Quite a few people have asked to use stuff I've written in books or articles or pamphlets, but usually it has been a friend thing of somebody calling me and asking if it is OK, and I say "Sure, use whatever you want", and I don't even keep track of it. So this was the first time it was a formal thing. First they contact me to be sure they can find me, and a few weeks later they send me forms to fill out and sign and get back to them. Actually it is a separate company doing all of this, as I assume they need to do a whole lot of it, so they contract it out. In this case, after several messages back and forth, and forms and so forth, it turns out that they were talking about something I didn't write. An old entry about LETS systems in Global Ideas Bank. It is on my server, and I did the database, but I don't administer it, and the content is aggregated by hundreds of different people who have sent it in. Which obviously is something that confuses traditional publishers. Btw they didn't even copy it - they paraphrased a few paragraphs, and left out the actual details. And they still felt they needed to ask for written permission to paraphrase two paragraphs. The biggest problem here is that copyright law tells them that everything is copyrighted (owned and restricted) by somebody, unless they specifically have been told otherwise. Creative Commons does it the another way around. You're told up front what you can use and how.

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