Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Copyright, Fair Use, and Criticism

Some time ago I webbed Alice Bailey's book, "Ponder on This", which is a compilation from the 30 or so Bailey's books, grouped on selected themes. Each excerpt was linked to a full version of every book some guy had put on the net.

I then received a cease and desist letter from Lucis Trust, who owns the copyright, and I had to put my pages down. The other guy who webbed the full version had to put it down too. However, I did ask permission to use at least some excerpts in a fair use spirit. They never replied to my request, something I was not very happy about and which prompted me to put all my Bailey's page down with a notice stating the reason why.

It now turns out Lucis Trust is making a page of their own that is, basically, identical to the one I had, except that they link each excerpt to the advertise of each book in which the excerpt is contained. I am not sure they are not even copying/pasting from my ex-pages, though I think they probably re-scan everything themselves to make sure it's identical to the original.

Well, I don't mind. I am glad I could contribute at least with the idea, maybe, though it would have been more easy for them to ask me to just link to the advertise of the books rather than to the full version.

Anyway, good thing it's back on-line. I shall update my notice page sometimes too.

PS - To bring this post back on topic, I would say that it may be a good idea for the CoS to do something like this too. Maybe they do it already, I don't know. If they prevent critics from publishing their copyrighted work, even in a fair use manner, then at least they could publish some of it themselves. Such a compilation could be a good enticement and would promote their basic views into society.

The CoS could even address the many distortions critics engage into by publishing clarifications and context, a bit like I did recently with my medical claims page, and a bit like what Louanne is doing. In this manner, they would turn criticsism into opportunities to clarify their teaching and fine-tune them to better target their audience.

Of course, this is not in par with the L. Ron Hubbard's philosophy regarding criticism at all, which is to never defend, always attack; to tag all those who criticize Scientology as some sort of criminals; to engage only in "good news"; and to keep at prospering instead.

Well, it's a choice. Who knows which approach is the best eventually. It's true that by not addressing anything they can just dismiss all critics with the same brush. and since critics do engage, on top of valid criticism, in grotesque claims as well, it does work somehow. If the CoS was to address that part of the criticism that is false, they would be left with that part of it that is true, and they would have to reform. Guess they just don't want that, nor is it compatible with LRH's spirit that present it as an ultimate planet-saving revelation of which every criticism bring us nearer to the doom.

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