[APG Public List] Copyright: One More Point

Ray Beere Johnson II raybeere at yahoo.com
Wed Nov 25 15:35:06 MST 2009

     I do think it may be valuable to at least add one more point which affects my own opinion, which it didn't occur to me might be unique on this list.
     Yes, many list members consider copyright somewhat important: they use it to protect their reputation, or even to protect works on which they've invested a lot of effort. _But_, genealogists are not _primarily_ content creators.
     I own registered Copyrights stretching back to 1977, having nothing to do with genealogy. I spend quite a bit of time online on sites with creative writers, artists, and photographers. I understand the viewpoint of content creators and owners in a way many of you may not. We have a lot of discussions on Copyright issues, all of which are focused on how to best - and usually, most aggressively - protect our own interests.
     So I understand just what actions are reasonably likely to get me sued, if I run afoul of the wrong person. Of course, a lot of people will never notice. But I also know people who spend at least an hour a day using various search engines to seek out copies of their work...
     No, most of them are far from copyright law experts. Some of them are amazingly ignorant. But the relevant point here is that most of those who know little about the law are inclined to think it protects _more_, not less, than it does. If _I_ can imagine an argument which might establish a valid claim to a certain "work" (whether or not the law would consider it a work in the legal sense), 100% of the people I know in these communities will not only think of it, they will be _sure_ it is the law. Of course, 100% of the "commons" believers will be equally sure that the law allows them to take anything they want, but that's another issue.
     My point here is this: I _know_ people out there who, in this exact situation, would hunt for a lawyer until they found one who would take their case, and who would sue (unless the individual they considered stole their work settled for enough first, of course). It tends to encourage a cautious approach when you are personally acquainted with people you know would "lawyer bomb" anyone who did that exact thing.
     Some of you may discount my opinion for that reason, others may see my point. I don't care what you decide; it is your life. But I did think that particular influence on forming my opinion was relevant to mention.
                         Ray Beere Johnson II


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