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  1. alter-ego
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    alter-ego Banned

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    Two suggestions

    Discussion in 'Support & Feedback' started by alter-ego, Feb 27, 2011.

    A thread like a wiki that contains all the things we keep asking, even the simple stuff.

    Purple prose
    City’s vs cities
    Information dump
    Adjective
    Etc etc


    Second one
    I’m not sure if this could be done due to copyright laws, but could we have a weekly excerpt from a best seller, or classic and then critique them. Would be a great way to show how the pros do it and also to show that even the best sometimes fail in places.
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    The second one is a copyright minefield. It's a nice idea, and discussing published works is actively encouraged in the Book Discussion forum, but quoting passages is a no-go.


    As for the first suggestion, shouldn't we as writers be in the habit of looking up words and terms we don't understand? After all, site members have the whole internet at their disposal.
     
  3. alter-ego
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    alter-ego Banned

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    Yeah thought the second might be a no go. Shame since it would be really helpful I think.

    The first, sure people can look things up and be directed to any number of websites, but what if people looked up writing terms and were directed to this website and then joined up. It might open up this forum to new users and its would also be useful to have all those terms in one place.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    so, what you really seem to want is an alphabetized 'glossary'+post subject list that contains all the info on each item?...

    go see how big a 'file' wiki would be to post anywhere and then try to imagine how even one 1/10 its size could possibly fit on this site... then try to find a volunteer [unpaid, of course] to pull it all together...

    but first go to all the stickies we already have for much of that stuff and see how many members even bother going to them...
     
  5. alter-ego
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    alter-ego Banned

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    And I think you've answered why it doesn't work like that. So many stickies all over the place, that its easier to just google what you want. Where as in a wiki with everything in one place would be easier. I have no idea of size of file or people doing the work. It was my understanding of a Wiki that once the format is set up, the viewers add the data not one person having to maintain it. Don't shoot the messenger I'm just throw it out as an idea that would bring new writers to the forum and be a useful resource to the current ones.
     
  6. jo spumoni
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    jo spumoni Active Member

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    Could we just have a place where we post links to other resources? For instance, there's a good site that details a lot of definitions of rhetorical devices that people might find useful. If people want something like "stream-of-consciousness" defined, maybe we could lead them in the right direction by providing a link to a page that has the definition rather than just making them google blindly?

    As for the excerpt idea, the copyrights would definitely be a problem, but there's a subforum for book discussion; you can always talk about what great books you're reading there and people can find them on their own.
     
  7. alter-ego
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    alter-ego Banned

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    good idea on the resources. The Book discussion subforum doesn't really do what I'd like to see. Which is a critique of an excerpt from published works. What seems to happen in the book discussion is. "oh I just read bla bla, its awesome, but I didn't like the ending" rather than in depth critique of the work.
     
  8. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    But wouldn't it be fair use if we use the material as reviews, resources, or research? I'm not really sure if copyright would be an issue if we are using the material to show everyone what they learned, instead of using it to reporduce or sell the original aurthor's work.
     
  9. alter-ego
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    alter-ego Banned

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    And certainly Amazon seems to have found a way around posting book excerpts. So it must be possible.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There IS a writing resources thread stickied in Writing Issues. Members cannot add to it direectly, but if you contact a moderator with a suggested, non-commercial link, it will be considered and added if it appears to be useful.

    There is a similar stickied, locked thread in the Publishers forum for publishing-related resource links.

    Yes, we do keep tight control over these threads, in order to keep the list to a size that is manageable for the person trying to find resources, and to make sure the resources are from reasonably authoritative or widely respected sites. Often, a proposed "resource" is to a site created by someone trying to push an agenda.
     
  11. alter-ego
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    alter-ego Banned

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    This is taken from the US Copyright Office in regards to fair use. It would seem that a book except for discussion would fit under this.

    "One of the rights accorded to the owner of copyright is the right to reproduce or to authorize others to reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords. This right is subject to certain limitations found in sections 107 through 118 of the copyright law (title 17, U. S. Code). One of the more important limitations is the doctrine of “fair use.” The doctrine of fair use has developed through a substantial number of court decisions over the years and has been codified in section 107 of the copyright law.

    Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:

    1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
    2. The nature of the copyrighted work
    3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
    4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

    The distinction between fair use and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.

    The 1961 Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law cites examples of activities that courts have regarded as fair use: “quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author’s observations; use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report; reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy; reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson; reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports; incidental and fortuitous reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located in the scene of an event being reported.”

    Copyright protects the particular way authors have expressed themselves. It does not extend to any ideas, systems, or factual information conveyed in a work."
     
  12. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    It might fit under fair use. Then again, it might not. I'm not a copyright lawyer (yet).

    What I am sure of, is that it did fall foul of the law then it would be the site owners who had to foot the bill- which is a fairly big ask.

    I don't dislike the idea, but as a law student I can see just how treacherous an area this could be, and it could expose Daniel to a lot of liability.
     
  13. alter-ego
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    alter-ego Banned

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    I guess that's the difference between a law student and a lawyer. A lawyer thinks of ways of fighting and student thinks of ways to runaway.

    Its a pretty clear cut code, that was written by some very well paid lawyers that wanted it to be as clear as possible.

    1. There's no argument that the use of an excerpt on this website would only be for criticism and teaching.
    2. No one here wants to use the work for commercial gain.
    3. It could be set as a rule that a Maximum of 500 words of a novel be used, which in no way could constitute a substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.
    4. Evaluating a small portion of the work is more likely to have a positive effect on the work than negative in relation to sales. IE if the work was critiqued and shown as an example of how to write well, then people might be inclined to buy the book.

    I don't see any risk at all. Are there publishers that could be contacted to ask how they would feel?
     
  14. LordKyleOfEarth
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    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

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    Alter, keep in mind that in the MP3 lawsuit heyday, sites like MP3.com were successfully sued for allowing users to store files that the user legally owned on their servers. No one except the legal owner had access, but the highly payed lawyers at the RIAA were able to defeat the low-wage small team the site could afford.

    While the law looks cut and dry, a malicious money hungry publisher or author could levy a suit against this site -- legitimate or not -- and simply out last the site owner. They could make a argument that the excerpt from their book was attracting traffic to this site, and that the increased traffic was generating ad revenue, therefore the site owner was profiting from the use of their intellectual property.

    ****ty, yes. Enough to get Daniel sued and this site killed? Yes.

    Is a comment like that really necessary?
     
  15. evelon
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    evelon Active Member

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  16. alter-ego
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    alter-ego Banned

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    The MP3.com lawsuit is something entirely different. As stated in the Copyright office code, we'd only be posting a excerpt and using it for teaching purposes. Not really anything like the same as someone taking entire songs to use and distribute.

    I take your point that a publisher could go after this website for posting excerpts. Any law can be fought on any grounds. Would they though? For what reason? The ad revenue is a little lame since it is probably negligible and isn't a direct result of just the authors excerpts, but of the entire content of the site.

    Its a shame that an educational idea is shot down due to nothing but fear. It seems no one wants to even consider trying it or even researching a little more to see if it is feasible. But I guess that's what we live with these days.

    As for the comment. He made such a big deal about how he is studying law, which was irrelevant because as he said he hasn't studied copyright law. So what was the purpose of even mentioning it, other than in a chest puffing. "I know more than you" exercise, so common on internet forums. Lawyers, like writers have to develop a thick skin.
     
  17. alter-ego
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    alter-ego Banned

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  18. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Chest puffing? Interesting...

    What I was actually pointing out is that however clear cut you think the law might be, it is rarely so simple. Particularly where commercial interests are involved. It's something that would expose the site (i.e. Daniel) to potential liability. True, it may be alright, but he'd need to get advice from someone who is a copyright lawyer, and not a mere cowardly law student like myself, first. Which would cost money. Are you willing to pay for it?

    And also, just as a general point, is insulting one of the people who would decide whether this happens or not really going to convince me that you're right? Jesus, what happened to discussion skills? Or even basic manners...
     
  19. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    But it would be on your behalf! It'd be on the membership's behalf, of which you are a part! The liability would fall on Daniel, not on you, not on any other member.
     
  20. evelon
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    evelon Active Member

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    I don't think that what I said was any more insulting than the remark made about student lawyers. And I'd argue that you are not acting on behalf of all the people.

    That said I do agree that excerpts from successful writers used as discussion pieces would be advantageous and interesting. But copyright is an issue. Maybe it would all be ok. Maybe it wouldn't. It isn't fair to expect someone else to sort out the whys and wherefors.

    There are many books out there that are now in the public domain. Mostly classics admittedly, but still useful as a tool for discussion.

    We had this question in our writing group. Small number of people involved - and still we decided to err on the side of caution, act out of respect for the authors and not copy passages either on hard copy or disc.

    Here, you are talking about a forum open to anyone who wants to join. Potentially thousands of people. You would be putting parts of an author's work out there for anyone to read.

    Contact the publishers/authors of the works you would like to review and ask them how they'd feel about it. You may get the answer you want. We tried it several times and didn't.
     
  21. evelon
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  22. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    What I think would be fun is if people from here could donate small excerpts, then the person that is being critiqued could include a summary almost critiquing the critiques, explaining what they found useful - then write the rewrite based on what they found useful. Or something like that.

    I know a critiquing contest was dismissed but at present we have nothing to crit the critters.
     
  23. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Wouldn't excepts from properly cited public domain works be fine?
     
  24. LordKyleOfEarth
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    Legally, yes. But it would create a burden for the mods to then vet all works. Public domain, however, is public
     
  25. alter-ego
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    alter-ego Banned

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    I'd be willing to pay my portion, along with the others of this site. But since YOU are a law student, I'd think you had access to that information right there at school without having to pay anything. At least be able to find out if it was a serious no go, or a consideration.

    As a law student the first thing you should know is that lawyers deal only with facts. You shot this down in the first place based on your hearsay. No facts. I gave you the facts that the Copyright Office clearly states we would be in the bounds of Fair Use, but then you still want to go on about your thoughts without any facts. I was just irritated that a moderator or whatever you are, is completely closed down to something that would greatly benefit the people on this site. It came across that you ask for suggestions, but then take greater enjoyment in finding reasons not to explore them.

    I'm not trying to convince you if I'm right or not. I really don't care that much what you do or think. I was thinking what a good tool it would be for users and for the site in general.
     
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