URL or Post?

Jose G. Perez jgperez at netzero.net
Sun Aug 24 17:44:13 MDT 2003


>>My personal habit (I think I've done this once) is that if the
"subscription" is free, and is just an annoying "fill out some web form
so
we can capture your (probably bogus) info" thing, then I feel free to
grab
the article and post it to save others from wasting their time on the
form.
On the other hand, if it is a PAID subscription, I would think that is
NOT a
good idea to do, since it is undoubtedly a copyright violation and puts
Louis in financial danger.<<

Well, unless the publication is such that it merits financial support
(arguably counterpunch, for example), and the important information can
be conveyed in a rewrite/summary/brief extract, then I think precisely
the *opposite* policy should be followed. For example, anything from the
WSJ should be circulated in full.

Copyright niceties notwithstanding, the hackers are right: information
wants to be free.

And what would be extremely unwise is for there to be anything that
could be cited as constituting a formal or informal list copyright
enforcement policy. Louis's position --should the matter ever arise-- is
going to be he is a service provider, and doesn't proactively police the
list. There is a solid basis in law for arguing that his obligation is
simply to take down the offending material once notified (with all the
legal niceties required in such a notification).

As a practical matter, copyright law is so far, far out of kilter with
Internet reality that the practice of circulating articles by email and
so on has now de-facto become part of "fair use," just like at an
earlier stage making your own cassette compilations of tracks from
Records and CD's became so common that now the law says (and has for
about a decade) that copyright restrictions and liability do not apply
to home reproductions of audio recordings for non-commercial use.

I would think both as a practical and political issue, we'd want to push
to institutionalize and generalize the free use of online material, and
certainly in a non-commercial context.

I think Louis's priority in terms of posting links not whole articles,
which I agree with entirely, is to limit bandwidth and therefore a) his
own costs, but most of all b) the cost to people in the third world who
pay by the minute on slow connections. I think keeping the average U.S.
dial-up list subscriber happy has to take a back seat to making it
possible for people in the third world to participate.


-----Original Message-----
From: owner-marxism at lists.panix.com
[mailto:owner-marxism at lists.panix.com] On Behalf Of Eli Stephens
Sent: Sunday, August 24, 2003 12:44 AM
To: marxism at lists.panix.com
Subject: URL or Post?


There have been a number of comments made recently on the question of
copying entire articles vs. quoting a key paragraph or so and then
providing
a URL. Also questions of minimizing bandwidth are always raised.

It strikes me that these are not as simple questions as they might
appear. A
basic problem is that there are two different kinds of divisions on the
list
(aside from political ones):

1) People who have broadband or other types of "always-on" connections
vs.
people who use dialup
2) People who receive the list postings as email vs. people who read it
online (most likely on the "Latest 100 messages" page, and/or on the
Archives page).

These divisions will therefore cause you to be affected differently by
different choices.

ACCESS TO THE ARTICLE: If I'm reading Marxmail offline (i.e., I've
downloaded my email), now I might appreciate a complete article, because
if
someone just quotes a small excerpt or even none at all and just a URL,
then
I can't just click on the URL to read the article. On the other hand, if
I
am online all the time, then whether I'm reading email or reading
Marxmail
on the web, a quick click  takes me to the article in question without
"polluting" the list itself with unneccessary bandwidth.

AVAILABILITY OF THE ARTICLE: Some articles are available only by
subscription. My personal habit (I think I've done this once) is that if
the
"subscription" is free, and is just an annoying "fill out some web form
so
we can capture your (probably bogus) info" thing, then I feel free to
grab
the article and post it to save others from wasting their time on the
form.
On the other hand, if it is a PAID subscription, I would think that is
NOT a
good idea to do, since it is undoubtedly a copyright violation and puts
Louis in financial danger. However, there is another "availability"
question. Many newspapers have a policy that the most recent 30 days are

available online, but after that can only be accessed by paid
subscribers.
So if you post such a URL, after 30 days someone reading this in the
archives won't know what you are referring to since the URL will be a
dead
end. And people DO consult the archives (I certainly do).

RELEVANCE OF THE ENTIRE ARTICLE: In some cases, one or two sentences or
one
or two paragraphs really tells the list everything they need to know;
the
URL is really provided as a reference but not as a particular
encouragement
to followup and actually read the whole article. In other cases, the
entire
article may be worth reading, and the one or two paragraph excerpt may
be
just a "teaser" to encourage people to read the entire article. In the
former case, it's pretty clear that the entire article should NOT be
posted.
But in the latter case, we go back to the access and availability
questions
above.

BANDWIDTH AND CONNECTION TIME: Entire articles posted do consume
bandwidth,
but they can be read offline (by those reading email). URLS consume less

bandwidth, but they require people to be online to read them, and hence
may
cost a user MUCH MORE because of the huge increase in connection time.
In
the U.S., most people's connection time is "free", that is, they get
either
unlimited access for their money or a large number of hours. But not
everyone is in that position, and this is definitely not true in other
countries. And even when the connection time is not causing extra
charges as
far as the Internet access itself, there still can be additional phone
charges for those on dialup connections, not to mention tied up phone
lines
which not everyone appreciates.

One problem is that I doubt that Louis or Les really knows the situation

(e.g., mail vs web, dialup vs. broadband) of even the people on the
list,
nevertheless people not on the list who are reading the Latest 100 and
the
archives, therefore, it becomes harder to make decisions which are based
on
this information which  doesn't exist. In the end, of course, I
subscribe to
the notion that this is Louis's list and therefore Louis makes the
rules,
but I think it's worth realizing that this question is NOT as simple as
it
may seem at first glance.

Hopefully this bandwidth was worthwhile, even if not political.

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