Fair use and the sharing of information
Tony Thompson wrote:
I think the reason many people react badly to restrictionsThe internet is certainly the Great Deceiver. Maybe it's the
solitude and supposed anonymity, but it can make middle-aged men
think teenage girls lust after them, that everything should be free
and freely available, and that the entire world is breathlessly
waiting to hear my opinions about something. :-) I harbor a number
of illusions, certainly that last one for sure but thankfully not
the first two. I set those aside weeks ago.
Maybe what we need to do more is something Tony has been doing all
along - tell inquirers where the information can be found rather
than laying it all out for them. For references that are out of
print or hard to come by, do what Richard does with photos - send a
scan by private email. Or mail a copy. There's nothing that says
requested information has to be delivered instantly and
There's at least one attitude problem that will have to be overcome.
If photo seller John La Rue, whose commercial presence for most of
us is behind an album-filled table at meets, were to respond to an
STMFC question with "I have a photo that shows exactly what you
want, my catalog number XXX-YYY - drop a check for ten bucks in the
mail and I'll get an 8x10 off to you right away", he'd be accused of
crass behavior and witholding information. But John's hypothetical
response is no different from Tony referring questioners to his PFE
book, or to Vol. 17 of the SP Rolling Stock Series. Is it because
John lacks the cachet of the Signature Press publishing empire?
Whatever the reason, if we can no longer upload scans of purchased
prints without concern, list members are going to have to accept
references to commercial sources without grumbling. Referring
questioners to Bob's Photos will be tricky, since you can only buy
from him at shows. Someone in Corsicana, Texas might not find such a
reference very useful.
But the internet really is more like publication: it goes all overI have dozens of prints from the CSRM Library, and literally
thousands of microfilm images, scans and paper copies of Pullman
drawings and documents from the Newberry Library. I purchased every
one of them. None of them is copyrighted, but every copy request I
signed was really a contract stating that the material was for my
own personal use, and that I had not purchased any publication or
distribution rights. I have pretty congenial relations with the
Newberry folks and am a contributing member of that Library. Even
so, it's pretty clear in talking with them that even "one copy for a
friend" is frowned upon.
One unintended consequence of all this may impact clinic handouts. I
commonly take over 100 handouts to Martin's and Mike's meets. Guess
I can show images of protected material in the presentation but
can't include them in the handouts. Can o' worms!