On authors having a right to unpublish

Ted posed an ethical question about the use of an unauthorized ebook edition of an out-of-print work.

(IMHO fair use includes a right to convert a work legitimately owned into a form that can be conveniently used by the owner of the copy.  In his poll: I think all of options 1, 2, and 3 are ethical.  5 is clearly not ethical.  And 4 is just silly).

In the ensuing discussion some people have posited that there's some sort of inherent right of authors to unpublish a published work.  IMHO that's nonsense.  Publication is (or ought to be) irreversible, and the irreversibility is a feature which contributes to the right of authors to say controversial things.  Once you publish something, it's out there; your words have a life of their own, and nobody can pressure you to take them back because you have no ability to take them all back.

There's already enough of a problem with libel tourism.  It would be far worse if a court could force you to exercise a right to unpublish.


Comments:

I asked a similar question on a songwriter's forum (and got no answers unfortunately).

The question I asked was, "What do I actually get a licence to when I buy a CD? If I get a license to a single copy of the recording, then if my CD becomes damaged, am I within my rights to download a pirated version and cut a new cd?"

We're obviously talking about personal use here for something to which I have already payed a royalty to the copyright owner.

Alan.

Posted by Alan Hargreaves on December 01, 2008 at 11:52 AM EST #

Alan: Yeah, that sort of copying doesn't trouble me.
To create another hypothetical, if a few pages in a book you own are seriously damaged, can you ethically borrow another copy from a library, photocopy the missing page, and make your copy whole again? I think you can. (To simplify the hypothetical, assume the damage happened after you purchased the book).

Posted by William Sommerfeld on December 01, 2008 at 12:26 PM EST #

I'd have to agree with you.I see nothing ethically or morally wrong with that.

Alan.

Posted by Alan Hargreaves on December 01, 2008 at 12:30 PM EST #

Post a Comment:
Comments are closed for this entry.
About

sommerfeld

Search

Top Tags
Archives
« April 2014
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
  
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
   
       
Today