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March 16, 2005
Siva Vaidhyanathan @ Sivacracy, unearthing yet another demonstration of fair use dying a slow death:
Apparently Princeton Professor Harry Frankfurt does not understand his own job.
As a professor and author of the new book Bullshit, he has taken it upon himself to be a copyright cop as well. He sent a personal cease-and-desist letter to Paul Schmelzer, author of the brilliant and essential blog, Eyeteeth: A journal of incisive ideas.
Why? Because Paul quoted [a small portion] of his book. ...Here is text from his (copyrighted, of course) cease-and-desist letter:
Dear Mr. Smelzer:
It has come to my attention that you have placed a copy of my essay "On Bullshit" on your website. I appreciate the compliment. As you may know, however, the essay has recently been published as a book by the Princeton University Press. The management of the Press and I are concerned that your use of my essay may interfere with sales of the book. In any case, it constitutes a clear infringement of my copyright. I must ask you, therefore, to remove the essay from your website as soon as possible.
Now, I seriously doubt that Princeton University Press objects to a blogger quoting from one of their books for commentary or criticism. I would shudder to think that a major academic publishing house would be that ignorant of or hostile toward fair use.
In the spirit of using fair use before we lose it
, Siva has some additional advice:
If you have a blog out there, copy and paste the exact text that got Paul in trouble. Post in on your blog. See what happens.
Better yet, someone at Princeton should scour Professor Frankfurt's body of work for his use of quotes from copyrighted material. Could he really have made a career without quoting?
Update (March 17): Confirmation @ BoingBoing
that Professor Frankfurt had no intention of putting fair use under the crosshairs: "I have no objection to the excerpt from my essay that is presented [at Eyeteeth]. I apologize for any suggestion that you might have done something improper. Indeed, I am grateful to you for the honor that your attention to my work does me."
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