3.837 copyright, cont. (127)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Mon, 11 Dec 89 19:13:09 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 837. Monday, 11 Dec 1989.

(1) Date: Thu, 7 Dec 89 09:49:58 EST (44 lines)
From: bobh@phoenix.Princeton.EDU (Robert Hollander)
Subject: Re: 3.833 copyright, cont. (27)

(2) Date: Fri, 8 Dec 89 17:51:00 EST (23 lines)
Subject: Re: 3.833 copyright, cont. (27)

(3) Date: Wed, 6 Dec 89 20:45 EST (35 lines)
Subject: Thanks (2X), plagiarism, etc.

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Thu, 7 Dec 89 09:49:58 EST
From: bobh@phoenix.Princeton.EDU (Robert Hollander)
Subject: Re: 3.833 copyright, cont. (27)

Michael Hart is correct in arguing that current rulings have it that the
"mere" copying of a public-domain text does not confer a protectable
right upon the copyer. He also points out that once texts move into the
public domain they may not be brought back under such protection failing
the presence of "significant intellectual addition." What we have little
information about is what that first adjective means or implies. If I
scan a text and then add to it the sources of all the citations I can
find within that text, I probably have done something "significant" by
way of intellectual effort. What if I simply track down the citations
already present in vague form (e.g., "Nel mezzo del cammin" (Dante)
becomes, in my ameliorated version: "nel mezzo del cammin" (Dante
Inf. 1.1})? Is that a "significant intellectual addition"? While I
find it less than pleasing to claim "significant" intellectual effort
for such slog work, I do think it involves significant _effort_, and
should make such a text the intellectual property of its producer. At
that point, if I happen to be the producer of that material, I want to
protect it, not for gain, but to have some hope of assuring the
integrity of that text--esp. since my name is now attached to it. And I
think I should have such protection. Nor do I think that position
offends most people in this busines does that position offend most
people involved in this activity. What does seem to offend is the
notion that I might then actually _sell_ my product and get "rich" off
dead people's labors. Shall we take Dante's modern publishers off to
the pillory for making money off his poem? Why do so many of us dislike
the idea that effort might be rewarded with financial gain? I hasten to
add that my own capitalist inclinations are in no way reflected by the
procedures of the Dartmouth Dante Project (nor of the Rutgers/Princeton
Center), which is a totally non-profit enterprise. The reason for that
is that federal funding was involved. While the law allows a certain
amount of profit to be taken from such projects (up to a certain amount
per year), we decided that we owed the taxpayer as fee a use as we could
muster in return.

Copyright is a challenging question for all of us. While many of
its aspects have negative implications, many others are either positive
or sensible. As in all other fields of human endeavor, in this one there
will be people who behave in generous ways, and there will be others. To
suggest, however, that labor and intelligence do not confer some rights
of copyright, seems to me to fly against the grain of fairness and good
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------143---
Date: Fri, 8 Dec 89 17:51:00 EST
Subject: Re: 3.833 copyright, cont. (27)

I should never have said "nothing," since that is an absolute, and where
absolutes are concerned one must be modestly ignorant. I was thinking
of the addition of the labor of transforming by keying, which is a form
of copying, if you will, or legal samiszdat? As for significant
"intellectual" addition, that is where there is room for lots of
lawplay, by way of courtcases, and suits. I am of the opinion or
position, if you will, that it is better not to take and then claim
innocence, public domain rights of breaking and entry, and etcetera.
Old copyrights are renewable, and if the Old OED is on CD-rom or parts
of it, then I would guess that ipso facto the CD's are copyrighted
thereby, for new life. Of course old Webster's are sold as Unabridged
Websters for 19.90$ by mail order, and poor people may buy them,
suckers, and the texts are 100 years old or so. It is indeed a
difficult tangle; but I sympathize with the originators of the dis-
cussion, the people who electronified the Hebrew texts at Bar Ilan U,
was it?I the business world, or real world, it is very hard for the
little person to go up against the rich plagiarists and collect,
costly, I mean. Since damages have to be proven, and it is hard to
show what has been lost by the having been ripped off. Kessler ucla
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------38----
Date: Wed, 6 Dec 89 20:45 EST
Subject: Thanks (2X), plagiarism, etc.

Let me first thanks all those among you HUMANIST who sent me
information concerning arabic/english/french text processing
packages. I have passed on the messages to the non-HUMANIST
who asked for my help. Thanks from her too. M.Lenoble

Let me also thank those who discussed plagiarism at large and
in relation to copyright problems. M.L.

I nevertheless would ask another question concerning plagiarism:
how would you conceive of the automatic plagiarism detection.
Would you advise me to use other programs than file comparison
collation programs, authorship attribution packages, stylometric
approach, etc. Any suggestion.
I was amazed at the profusion of statistic results concerning YES and
NO. My passion is the word ETC. or ET CETERA. Who has ETCs in his
or her corpuses. I have my theory about the ways the various kinds
of ETCs work. So all those having ETCs in their e-texts, please let me

[The corpus of conversations from Humanist has "etc." well over 1000
times. Etc. is ripe for study. --W.M.]

P.S. As far as I know all members of the HUMANIST network at the
university of Montreal are safe and sound. 12 students at least
weren't so lucky today when they were savagely murdered by a fool.
It sometimes make me wonder whether this society PROGRESSES in the
right direction...