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Ask the Feed: Agony Aunt Lets Karsten Answer For Himself a Question About Copyright & Fair Use

March 19, 2011

Several weeks ago, regular reader Michelle asked this in the comments:

I have a weird question…Is it considered a copyright no-no to record these poems? Or is it OK long as you give credit? Just curious.

Dear Michelle:

No need for any faux-auntie to answer this one for me!  It’s not a weird question at all; in fact, it’s been banging around my own brain since I started the blog, and it deserves a forthright answer.

To be blunt: Most of what I read and post here is copyrighted. And I’ve proceeded with a happy conscience because I believe these readings are “fair use.” As I mentioned in this interview at Voice Alpha,

I lean hard on the factors considered in determining fair use: specifically, that my use is entirely educational/nonprofit, that I use only a small portion of any whole publication, and that the effect of my recordings on the market for the work I’m using is almost certainly positive. I cite the source of each poem, and I link to the book for purchase. It’s my sincere hope that poets’ work will sell as a result of my posts. Encouragingly, about two dozen of the poets whose work I’ve read have communicated with me, and every one has been enthusiastic about the project.

However, I saw this new document, Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Poetry, linked recently in various places. I’ve been carrying a printout around with me and reading it in dribs and drabs for a few weeks. And you know, I’ll post more soon about what changes a blogger with integrity–not just good intentions–might have to make.

Now, having said all that: If a poet, publisher, or someone else with rights to a poem I’ve posted ever objects to my presentation of their work, I will immediately apologize and remove that post.  No questions asked.

Straightforwardly, Karsten

P.S. Giving credit where it’s due: that picture of the question mark–or is it a phoenix?–is by Roy Blumenthal, posted in his Flickr photostream.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 19, 2011 9:44 am

    Thanks for this. I tend to post mini-reviews of books of poetry and every once in a while I’ll post a whole poem; however, I always link to the book for sale and to the publisher and the poet if he/she has a site. I, too, have the Best Practices document printed out but haven’t had time to read it yet.

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