6.0711 R: Gopher and Copyright (1/48)

Thu, 6 May 1993 18:44:30 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 6, No. 0711. Thursday, 6 May 1993.

Date: Thu, 06 May 93 11:32:20 BST
From: Donald A Spaeth <GKHA13@CMS.GLASGOW.AC.UK>
Subject: 6.0706 R: Gopher and copyright

Charles W Brownson said:
>This whole thread, on both sides, makes me uneasy. Surely the point of invent-
>ing the gopher was to facilitate retrieval and dispersion? It shouldn't be
>necessary to maintain local files -- this must be the residue of libraries'
>preference to own rather than borrow. On the other hand, the copyright-based

Makes me pretty uneasy too. The discussion has taken a tone of freedom
information and publisher/profit-bashing so far. But let's look at it
from other points of view, say the author and the reader.

As a reader, I don't like the thought that there might be many versions
of the same text, each with subtle differences. This means I spend far
more time navigating through menus, where many of the choices may be
(virtually) the same thing. And how do I choose? I need a validated
base text (or base dataset), both for my own use as a scholar and
for citation purposes. I can imagine spending hours downloading
versions and deciding which one I should use. If this is the future
of Gopher, then no reputable scholar will use it.

As Brownson says, surely the whole point of Gopher/WAIS is that
we don't need multiple versions, because anyone can find their
way to The One Version wherever it is. The implication of this
is not just that one should ask permission before copying a text
to a new server, but one should never copy a text to a new server.
The most one should do is add a pointer to the text.

>From the author's point of view (including the author of a dataset),
I am uneasy about the thought of having a document go out under
my name which may no longer be the document I created. Who then
is responsible for its contents? For academic authors, this is one
of the main functions of copyright. Unless a means can be found of
protecting my version of documents, then I will be unwilling
to publish them under Gopher/WAIS.

Copyright is a pain in the backside, but it has its uses. Speaking
cynically, it is my observation that people (including myself) don't
like copyright when we want to use other people's material but
do like it when protecting their own material.

Donald Spaeth

Deputy Director
Computers in Teaching Initiative Centre for History
with Arcaheology and Art History
University of Glasgow