It seems to me that appropriation is part and parcel of blogging. We're all the time saying, in effect, "Hey, look at this interesting thing! [That I'm now reproducing on my site without owning it and without necessarily having permission.]" I'm always conscious of this and I always try to be sensitive to the "fair" part of Fair Use. In particular, if someone is clear about what they want to have happen with their material, I try to respect that. Mainly, bloggers and website editors do this by being conscientious about linking—many people really do want publicity and "viral" connections, so linking back to whomever owns something is often enough consideration for them. Especially from a site like TOP, which can send thousands of visitors at a time to a linked site. So, for instance, on Wednesday I used a photograph of Umida Akhmedova I got from the Radio Free Europe site. But I credited them and linked back to them. Is that enough? Hope so.
Anyway, not long ago, as you'll probably remember if you're a regular reader, I published, here on TOP, a video I found on YouTube of the famous mystery, horror, and "speculative" (not "science") fiction writer Harlan Ellison ranting about not being paid for his work by people who expect (ahem) that he'll be happy to do it for the publicity. He makes it crystal clear in the video that he's not.
A few people joked that I had better have my homeowner's insurance in order (he threatens in passing in the video to burn down the building of a would-be appropriator).
But I got to thinking. Really, by publishing that video, I've done exactly what he's saying in the video he doesn't want people to do. How is that fair?
So I poked around on the internet. He's not online, and I couldn't find an email address, but I came up with the best mailing address for him I could find and mailed him a check for $25, along with a brief handwritten note explaining what it was for.
Well, to my surprise, yesterday I got a delightful little note back, typed on a tiny square of paper (reproduced here more or less actual size), no doubt with the ancient manual Olympia typewriter Harlan is famous for continuing to be faithful to. Pronouncing himself "pleased and stunned," he says "YOU are the first—the VERY FIRST—mensch & Good Guy to ever send me a payment for the work YouTube, et al, have mis-appropriated."
Well worth twenty-five bucks, if you ask me, quite apart from the video.