Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Sat, 13 Sep 1997 13:52:40 -0700 (PDT)

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Andrew K wrote in [OPE-L:5456]:

> For instance, "anyone who wishes to examine the archives must agree _in
> advance_ that they will not quote the contents of posts on the Internet or
> elsewhere without the explicit written permission of the author(s)." Taken
> literally, this would mean that if an author dies, his/her posts can never
> become public (even if s/he gave a general [blanket] permission before
> dying).

Putting aside the question of what happens if a member dies (which almost
happened recently!), the logic behind the above is the following: when
posts were written, they were NOT written for publication. Had subscribers
*known beforehand* that their posts might be quoted on other Internet
lists or in writing, then they would (probably) have written those posts
differently. Moreover, the above allows us to continue as before in the
sense that it still allows individuals control over their own written
words, i.e. they can either give permission for quotation or not.

> Moreover, some of it is unclear to me. I wonder if Jerry might be able to
> explain his reasoning a bit more. For instance, are any researchers now
> asking to use the archives?

I have received requests from some to make the archives public. Mostly,
these have come from graduate students on other lists.

> Why the "precautions" about who will make contact
> with the researcher?

Perhaps I worded the last part of the proposal poorly. My intent was
simply that while individual listmembers should exercise their good
judgment about informing others about the archives, someone has to ensure
that they agree to the conditions stated. Whether this is made clear to
those people by me or by the listmember in contact with the "researcher",
I don't really care (in fact, it would be easier for me if I didn't have to
have that communication).

Why is this necessary? Without mentioning names, I have reason to believe
that there are a number of individuals who would violate those conditions
unless they were required to agree to those conditions before accessing
the archives.

> Finally, I wonder what the rights of individual authors are. Do we or do we
> not have the right to cite, quote, and make public, documents we ourselves
> have written? Etc. I have asked legal counsel to inquire into such
> matters.

If you aren't quoting someone else, then I think that whatever you write
is your property and you can decide to reproduce or not as you please.
When you are quoting someone else, however, you are citing *their*
property and the question of ownership rights becomes a little more
complicated -- especially if the other writer didn't intend his/her
writings for publication.

Finally, let me say that the current proposal was offered as a compromise.
It was not my first choice. I would have preferred to simply open the
archives unconditionally. But, we couldn't get consensus on that. So, we
can either maintain the status quo (a closed archives) or come to an
agreement which meets the major concerns of everyone.

In solidarity, Jerry