TITLE: Pre-Cease-and-Desist E-Mail AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: August 03, 2006 3:57 PM DESC: ----- BODY: My blog has received occasional interest from unexpected places, such as my local newspaper and the author of a book on marketing. These contacts have always been pleasant surprises. Yesterday evening, I received e-mail on a different sort of interest, one which is less pleasant. In a blog entry on June 14, 2005, I did what I sometimes do: use an image or cartoon from another source that illustrated a point I was trying to make. In this case, it was a cartoon from a well-known series that expressed humorously how I felt when accepting the position as head of my department. I wanted to give the creator credit for his work, so I mentioned it by name and linked to the author's web site. Somehow, the syndicator of the series came to know about my entry. (The fact that my use of the cartoon shows up as #40 on a Google Images search for the cartoon makes the discovery not all that surprising!) Last night, I received a polite letter from the syndicator asking that I remove the image, along with a playful though perhaps overwrought message from the author himself. I updated that blog entry as soon as I could to remove the offending image. As I said, I occasionally use images from other web sites to illustrate my blog, though I have not sought official permission to use all of them. I've always tried to stay within the bounds of fair use, and I have always linked to the web page where I found the image, so that the creator would get full credit for his or her intellectual property along with any attendant traffic that may follow from my readers. In an "free software" sense, I was just trying to participate in the exchange of ideas. I may well have been within the legal bounds of fair use in this case. Not being a lawyer, I would have to spend a little time, if not money, to obtain a legal opinion to that effect. In either direction, I do not think it's worth my time or money to find out. I have great respect for intellectual property rights and do not wish to infringe on them. I recall being rather annoyed by the cavalier attitude taken by the founder of Wikipedia on the its use of copyright images and images otherwise controlled by others. Whatever one feels about free software and open source, one rarely has the right to require another person to share intellectual property. Similarly, the idea of downloading copyright music and video without paying disturbs me. I may think that someone should distribute something openly, but that is the copyright holder's prerogative. So: I will be careful from now on to use only those images for which I have permission to do so. -----