3.270 publishers and rights (35)

Wed, 19 Jul 89 19:18:15 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 270. Wednesday, 19 Jul 1989.

Date: 18 July 1989 19:29:22 CDT
From: "Michael Sperberg-McQueen 312 996-2477 -2981" <U35395@UICVM>
Subject: publishers and permissions

Ruth Glynn makes excellent sense in her note on publishers and
permissions. But if I ask permission to do something which by law I
have the right to do, and receive the reply that I may not do it
(because, say, the publisher believes I have no such right, and does not
wish to give any ground) -- have I not conceded in advance that it is
something that I do *not* have the right to do? Otherwise why did I ask
permission? Whereas if I rudely do not ask permission, I at least have
the chance of arguing that I have not already conceded that what I do is
not fair use.

Not so tortured logic: consider the arguments in Ariel Sharon's suit
against Time magazine, where checking a story proved to Time's legal
detriment, and printing it without checking was legally easier to
defend. I don't know if it's just copyright law, or law in general, or
just Cravath Swaine and whoever, but it's certainly depressing.

Makes me glad I work with medieval texts which are (I think) out of
copyright (unless, of course, I use a good edition ...)


Michael Sperberg-McQueen, University of Illinois at Chicago