Subject: Re: is it ok if I quote? From: Erik Naggum <email@example.com> Date: 22 Sep 2002 00:42:44 +0000 Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> * Stefan Schmiedl <email@example.com> | Are usenet and web pages different media? Yes. | Especially when you can find the message on a web page, even if it is | generated on request? Yes. | If they are, would this imply that Google is infringing on the Fair Use | Doctrine? Google would lose a class action suit against them for infringing on the rights of the authors of messages it has stored and made available, if such a class action suit was ever filed. That it is not, is mostly due to the fact that people have not registered their copyrighted material and therefore would not get any "statutory damages" or attorney's fees covered even if the infringement suit was ruled in their favor. Since there is no demonstrable commercial benefit from this material in its original form, and hence no demonstrable loss in the Google form, which makes money off it in a sort of round-about way, the damages would have to be assessed on moral grounds instead of financial grounds. The likelihood that no more money would be awarded than the cost of going to trial is overwhelming, so no intellectual property lawyer would want to take the case, either. Google is therefore a case of getting away with it rather than a clear-cut case of doing something legal. However, Google does not edit the articles and does not engage in any other intellectual work on the contents, so if Google is off the hook for practical or theoretical reasons that still has no bearing on whether those who do make additional intellectual value out of published material, such as by selective compilation, would be similarly off the hook. If somebody stored the messages in extenso and linked to them from another page, that would be far less infringing than using only pieces of them. This actually has rather serious ramifications for the ability to make the browser extract portions of an abstractly referenced object, which is all the rage in the stuff underlying the Semantic Web and related efforts. If you can reference-by-inclusion segments of another web object, you can effectively make up an entirely new setting for the referenced object, over which the original author has no control. Insofar as a complete object is referenced-by-separate-instance, it is fairly obvious that the original author remains in control. This, for instance, has already been played out in court when it comes to pointing browsers at newspaper articles in a way that replaced them with no or different advertising. Although such a service is certainly welcome at the personal level, if you tried to make a buck from removing advertising from websites, you would be in deep shit, to use a very technical legal term. If, for instance, the search engines were to charge their users money for the service of locating web pages, it is not clear-cut which way payment should go between search engine and author of web pages. One could imagine paying for the referral service to begin with and then getting paid for each referral. If, for instance, a search engine that employed classification would require payment for the classification service, it could well charge the users for using such a classified Web as well, and then the publishers of the classification scheme want to be paid. The overarching principle is that creativity wants to be rewarded, and the infrastructure necessary to reward creativity without punishing use of it takes a lot of work and time to be ironed out. With ever declining profitability of web sites and much less money to be made by Internet advertising, we will see people try harder and harder to make money before they try something more profitable. This will be a period of much irrationality (and the increasing amount of spam is a clear sign of irrational behavior with diminishing returns) before we find ourself on the other side of decisions that have been made by the really big players lobbying Congress and WIPO with little or no "user" influence. -- Erik Naggum, Oslo, Norway Act from reason, and failure makes you rethink and study harder. Act from faith, and failure makes you blame someone and push harder.