Final post on copyright

Sfauthor at Sfauthor at
Sun Mar 2 20:01:49 UTC 1997

I should preface my final remarks by stating that I am not a lawyer (and all
my other habits are good, too) and that nothing I say should be construed as
giving legal advice.

Copyright protects original works. Writing is original, retyping is not,
translating is.

What exactly is original is a subject for debate (lobbying, bribery,
litigation . . . ) as we move into an economy where most of us assemble,
modify, distribute and reassemble pieces of information. In fact, there is a
panel at the ACM conference discussing the topic this very day, March 2nd.
Info at:

Those of us expending considerable effort on work that may not be
copyrightable may want to consider a quick technological fix. (And I bet you
thought quick technological fixes were a mythical beast on a par with
surgical air strikes!) For example, I believe (although I haven't done this
myself) that Adobe Acrobat allows one to make a document unprintable and/or
unchangeable. If one created a file consisting solely of an ancient text
(which I believe would not be copyrightable) one could begin the file with a
title page stating your name, that it is freely given to the public, that it
is not to be resold and so on. This would make it difficult for anyone to

I stand by my statement regarding the body of the U. S. Constitution vs.
amendments. It was clearly stated by a currently practicing intellectual
property attorney speaking on a panel devoted to copyright. 

I apologize for my remark on German motives for lengthening the duration of
copyright. Never take satire literally. (Here, I violated the
corollary--never use satire where it might be taken literally or where nerves
are exposed. I believe I am of 1/4 German ancestry. Or is it 1/8? I'll have
to ask mom. I'm fairly sure I'm not my own grandpa.)

Best wishes to every last one of you,

Brian Akers
sfauthor at

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