Monday, August 07, 2006

A Rose By Any Other Name..












"Your Honour, I concede that at first glance it appears I have breached copyright by publishing certain illuminated manuscript images on the website called BibliOdyssey. I agree that copying or publishing even a single pixel of data requires specific permission from each of the four institutions which maintain the research portal where the digitized manuscript images are hosted.

But the court should hear that after obsequiously petitioning the portal adminstrator and receiving an access password, I was immediately overwhelmed by the beauty and artisanship on display, such that close reading of the terms and conditions did not suggest itself as a matter for priority.

Instead, I set about studying the images and every so often I took screen captures of small segments from random pages which were downloaded to my local hard drive. All the images published on BibliOdyssey required splicing together of up to seven individual screen captures to meet the stringent BibliOdyssey sizing policies. These activities took place some months before the alleged copyright breach.

So it was Your Honour that I recently chanced upon the images in question after overlooking them for some time, but try as I might, I could not recall the name of the famous set of manuscripts nor the website address of the portal. After deliberating long and hard I made the decision to publish them anyway, deciding that the passage of 600 years ought to have substantially extinguished the plaintiff's copyright assertions.

Normal practice at BibliOdyssey is to be assiduous in providing attribution and identifying owners and/or copyright holders in relation to published images. The abberrant conduct at issue today should therefore be viewed as a single uncharacteristic episode in which an exceedingly small amount of manuscript material was displayed so that some other people might have the opportunity to enjoy the medieval beauty that is usually hidden away in padlocked digital cloisters.

I submit that the extenuating circumstances outlined are sufficient justification for publishing the images and I ask that Your Honour dismiss the plaintiff's suit. Thank you."

9 comments :

Arevanye said...

*applauds*

Brilliant!

I'm a total groupie now--I check every day for new posts. Thanks for all your hard work.

Josef Beery said...

Thank you thank you for providing for public view the magnificent materials saved in the worlds libraries. And fie on all librarians who would slow the dissemenation of our culture's legacy to the public. No institution has a "legal" right to prevent publication of their materials. Only the creator/copyright holder can prevent publication and how often does the creator convey his rights to the archiving institution?

Your blog has been my homepage for a while. It is a delight.

phoenix said...

Bravo!

ggaryt said...

May I use your defense against the copyright moguls?

pk said...

No institution has a "legal" right to prevent publication of their materials.

This is a very tricky area and I don't really have a cemented position.

The institution owns the book and often, in terms of BibliOdyssey, it is exceedingly rare. They are the ones who digitize the material and host it. It may be public domain in the original format but I sympathize with institutions who try to sit on the fence, providing access but also watermarking (wellll, actually I hate it when they disfigure the image) or issuing warnings to try to prevent republishing without them making some money. I have varying opinions on all this depending on whether I'm wearing my BibliOdyssey or personal hats, if you follow.

Anyway, this post is very much a rare event. Attribution and acknowledgements go hand in hand with 'fair use' principles.

Thanks everyone.

Benjamin G. said...

It would seem that the two frames of women against the castle walls represent emotions. They are sadness, age, hatred, and some justice-related emotion, respectively.

Perhaps some old French bit similar to Piers the Ploughman?

Karla said...

Um... I won't turn you in to the copyright police. And now for more sensory overload... of the most agreeable kind...

Elmsley Rose said...

Hi p.k.,

I removed the extraneous detail as you suggested.

Then discovered that by simply clicking on the picture inline, Blogger
would open the larger version of the picture in a seperate window! I
didn't realize that it did this automatically.

I'm finding the blog a very strange mixture of automatic facilities
and code-bludging (eg to display a favourite link). It wouldn't be that
hard to provide support code to make it friendlier for the user.
But I'm enjoying - new strange world!

Putting off the spam-prevention until 'they' find me. Save my friends some eyestrain until tnen :-)

Thankyou ever so much

pk said...

Elmsley Rose, things may be changing for the better.

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