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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2012, 02:55 GMT 

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If Bob uses Johanna Parker's writings in his writings and she thinks that is cool then let him do that. If he uses my expressions and I donLt like it then let me sue him. Let him stand a trial That should teach him uhh?


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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2012, 03:12 GMT 
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Ontherun wrote:
If Bob uses Johanna Parker's writings in his writings and she thinks that is cool then let him do that. If he uses my expressions and I donLt like it then let me sue him. Let him stand a trial That should teach him uhh?

I will not hold my breath waiting for either !!


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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2012, 03:27 GMT 
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ifitwastruetennessee wrote:
artists are influenced by everything around them that makes an impression, everyone is. dylan is being incredibly honest- he is showing us how artists work. he has taken some lines, from a book for instance, that he thought would somehow contribute to the effect in his song. his song was something new- it was not a song about japanese gangsters, but even if it was, he would tell it in a new way.

you either tell your story well, or you don't, and he can tell it like no one else. sometimes it might be all intuitive, the muse, or whatever you want to call it. sometimes he is trying to point as closely to the source as he can get. but that's a funny thing, where the origin is can be hard to say sometimes. dylan has been so honest about all of this, and if i was an artist that had influenced him in a good way, i would take that as an honor. he knew people would be tracking it all down- he pointed the way- love and theft (oh, i see voice with restraint wrote about the title, it is hard for me to read all of these, that is why i try not to write long ones, like this. sorry if i said the same thing as others). and everything about his stage performance contributes to the love and theft idea for me, his costume, his mannerisms on stage, lighting, and yes, the way he sings- i love it.



you got more insight than the super duper knowers.fact is bob has yet to write a song about any japanese gangsters.


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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2012, 03:44 GMT 

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i don't have much insight, believe me, but thanks. maybe he has a japanese gangster song somewhere, you never know :)


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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2012, 03:45 GMT 
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ifitwastruetennessee wrote:
i don't have much insight, believe me, but thanks. maybe he has a japanese gangster song somewhere, you never know :)



maybe hell have em aboard the titanic.


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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2012, 03:53 GMT 

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yeah, why not, looks like history is getting rewritten all the time


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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2012, 04:07 GMT 
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Johanna Parker wrote:
Giada wrote:
MMD probably just got tired of being compared to Weberman after trying to understand your arguments.

Edit: that was a response to JP's free research comment, not to ontherun.


Not that it is any of your business, but we worked that one out. Apart from that, what does my free research comment have to do with MMD? I was referring to scottw. People will get there, I'm sure.... might take a couple dozen years, though.


No, JP. I don't think we worked much of anything out. I did in fact tire of you comparing me to Weberman (though you did admit it was an insult the the following day) for trying to understand your arguments. But, I do think I have a better sense of why we had trouble actually communicating.
I wish you well. Though, my critique of your overall approach to Dylan's writing stands.

And Giada, I appreciate all you've said a great deal.


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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2012, 04:11 GMT 
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ifitwastruetennessee wrote:
artists are influenced by everything around them that makes an impression, everyone is. dylan is being incredibly honest- he is showing us how artists work.

Sorry, but this is a steaming pile of crap.

While Dylan is indeed engaging in the folk process by borrowing old things, when he recorded "Baby Let Me Follow You Down" in November 1961, he didn't write "words and music by Bob Dylan" on the record sleeve. When he stole entire sentences and paragraphs from books and films on his recent records, he did write "by Bob Dylan" under them.

That is what people are upset about, not the fact that he borrowed them.


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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2012, 04:17 GMT 
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Johanna Parker wrote:
Just because noone stands up to accuse you doesn't mean you didn't do something.




"What is 'IN THE PENAL COLONY'?"


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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2012, 04:26 GMT 
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scottw wrote:
This is obviously a polarizing topic and opinions vary wildly. I present statements from two writers who have planted their flags in opposite sides of the field.

Here's Sean Wilentz in Bob Dylan in America: "At the most basic legal level, the charges of plagiarism were groundless. Many of the words as well as melodies that Dylan appropriated had long ago passed into the public domain and were free for appropriation by anyone. The exceptions, like the Yakuza borrowing, involved isolated lines—images and turns of phrase—that hardly represented passing off another persons memoir as his own."

Here's Michael Gray on the subject: "...you can surely see that another way of reacting to the revelations from Scott Warmuth about passages from Chronicles Volume One might be with great disappointment - great disappointment that whole paragraphs that were very reasonably assumed to be, and praised as, terrific prose by Bob Dylan, turn out to be 'copied out', as we used to say at school, from prose by other writers.

Now you may say - I might say myself - that that isn't plagiarism but literary quilt-making, or postmodernist game-playing, or something else very Dylanesque and clever. But to ask a simple question from the same starting-point: ie from the fact that whole paragraphs reasonably assumed to be, and praised as, terrific prose by Bob Dylan, proved to have been copied out from prose by other writers: if that isn't plagiarism, what is?"
http://bobdylanencyclopedia.blogspot.co ... llins.html

There's quite a gap between "groundless" and "if that isn't plagiarism, what is?" - too bad the discussion usually stalls here in an endless stream of bile and invective as displayed recently by a select number of people here who are clearly lacking in the social graces.


Hi scottw, I was hoping you might shed some light on your methods for determining when Dylan has "borrowed" from a previous source. Some are obvious (whole paragraphs or verbatim sentences) while others are just a word to or two. Wondering how you go about locating the "borrowing" and how you decide that there is a strong enough case to claim publicly that Dylan has in fact "borrowed" something when its no more than a word or phrase -- that is, how do you decide that you can claim it's "borrowed" from a particular text.

Best wishes.


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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2012, 04:31 GMT 

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panther wrote:
ifitwastruetennessee wrote:
artists are influenced by everything around them that makes an impression, everyone is. dylan is being incredibly honest- he is showing us how artists work.

Sorry, but this is a steaming pile of crap.

While Dylan is indeed engaging in the folk process by borrowing old things, when he recorded "Baby Let Me Follow You Down" in November 1961, he didn't write "words and music by Bob Dylan" on the record sleeve. When he stole entire sentences and paragraphs from books and films on his recent records, he did write "by Bob Dylan" under them.

That is what people are upset about, not the fact that he borrowed them.


that"s because they were different, when he used those sentences in the more recent songs he was not doing a different version of the original works. he used the lines in a totally different context or way. he didn't take a song, book, or film and just do his version of it, like the folk songs often do, he took random lines that he liked the sound of, for instance, and he did something totally new with them


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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2012, 07:32 GMT 
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ifitwastruetennessee wrote:
that"s because they were different, when he used those sentences in the more recent songs he was not doing a different version of the original works. he used the lines in a totally different context or way. he didn't take a song, book, or film and just do his version of it, like the folk songs often do, he took random lines that he liked the sound of, for instance, and he did something totally new with them

So, what you're saying is, Dylan used those lines in exactly the same way Hootie and the Blowfish used lines of "Idiot Wind" in their 1995 hit, "Only Wanna Be With You". And I believe they had to make a financial settlement with Dylan's publishers, probably for large amounts of money...

You're also talking about exactly the same thing Richard Ashcroft did with the symphonic motif behind the orchestral arrangement of The Rolling Stones' UK #1 "The Last Time", which Ashcroft sampled for The Verve's big hit "Bittersweet Symphony". And if you buy CDs of that album, you'll see it says "written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards" (it isn't).

And you're also talking about exactly the same thing hip-hop studio artists do by sampling older tracks and building raps over them. They don't get to do that for free...


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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2012, 08:22 GMT 
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Death on Credit wrote:
"Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal." - T.S. Eliot

Eliot used large amounts of uncredited quotes from other writers when writing The Waste Land. Same goes for James Joyce's Ulysses, and Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech. All of these people, along with Bob Dylan, are among the most important figures of their respective fields - and they certainly didn't get their reputations due to ignorance of the things they "stole." There's a huge literary, poetic, folk, and blues tradition of allusion and borrowed material. There are only so many words, feelings, notes, chords, and sentiments out there, especially when we're talking about art forms that have been around for centuries. No one's inventing the wheel, you know? Just keeping it rolling.

Does that make it ok? Not necessarily, but there's also probably no reason to single out Bob Dylan.


Good post. Gets to the nub of the matter without recourse to talking yourself up as a self-appointed expert, better-equipped than others to determine a verdict. Maybe this should be re-named the Dime Stores & Bus Stations thread. Oh, hang on though, that would constitute plagiarism.


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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2012, 09:10 GMT 
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There are several things mixed up in all of this discussion:
1) notions of authorship -- what does authoring mean? Mostly we are dealing with a 19th century, European, Romanticism-based (as a literary and social world-view) idea of the creative artist as 'genius'. But this is not a universal conception of 'authoring'. And it is not necessarily even the dominant one among artists today.

Let's separate that from the property-rights aspect:
2) notions of ownership -- the history of the legal and social understanding of what can be 'owned' and what 'owning' means. Here we are talking in part about copyright law and intellectual property more broadly. But this is to focus on contemporary US law. It's important not to treat that as universal or the same as moral determination of right and wrong. The reason 'sampling' in hip hop worked out the way it did has a quite a bit to do with power and social attitudes towards hip hop, as well as the effort to apply law in a new area.

sometimes we act as if the legal apparatus and its definitions are primary, that they actually tell us what artists do. Historical research will show you, that's not the case.

If you combine the two dominant modes in the US and Europe of thinking about these two ideas, you get this:
The artist is someone who creates out of an innate well of creativity -- which can mean being tapped into God or Nature or just the 'soul' and this then is the genie, or genius, the spirit or daimon, in the artist that is the source of the art. The artist makes everything out of him or herself, not relying on the outside world. This brings something novel or new into the world.

Combined with the dominant concept of the individual in the West, we can see how the idea of property plays out: because the art is made out of the material of the artist and through the labor of the artist, he or she appropriates (literally makes it his or her own). Thus, she or he owns (selfs) the art. And thus, according to law, has rights of property in it. This is then extrapolated into copyright and so on. I should note here that according to this model, anytime you mix your labor with something in the commons, you also can make a property claim on it. If you follow this out, interesting things become clear. The idea of public domain arts which can be reworked and copyrighted if you mix your labor with them in a sufficient way. But it also points to the idea that artists took the material from the commons to begin with, so after a while, they revert back to the commons. That's a nice clue.
Here's an interesting contrast. In the legal era before ours (the 17th CE) -- French writers went to the king to get a copyright. The king gave one or not because all ideas were his. He owned them. Did the king lease them? I think so. Before that, the idea of the individual (as we understand it) did not exist, much less an individual who could claim to create or invent. Only God did that. Or the forefathers. Invention or the new were considered terrible things. The good was what always had been around.

My main point is that the kinds of arguments that some people on this board are making about Dylan plagiarizing take for granted the universality of the ideas of ownership and authorship I've just pointed to. But, in practice, artists are not bound by (at least) the idea of authorship that still hangs around in popular culture (and in the law). What 'creation' means today among artists and scholars is very different than the popular, common anachronistic view of it. And law lags too. But, I'll say why artists would be conflicted about that at the end.

As a matter of fact, with Modernism (in the early 20th century) artists themselves moved beyond the notion of sui generis authorship and began to show/perform the fact that ideas, texts, all the material of artistic creation are taken from the culture in which we make art. Thus the Wasteland (Elliot) openly bringing texts and tones and musics of all kinds (high and low) into the poem (as pointed out by another poster in this thread). In the Wasteland, you'll see Elliot compose whole stanzas out of lines from high and low cultural texts, from nursery rhymes, classical poetry and literature, common sayings, and ancient texts. No quotation marks, no footnotes (or rarely). Sound familiar. That's allusion (reference), of course. It is meant to say that the meaning of that other text I am citing here needs to be thought about carefully and reconsidered in relation to what I have written here. It "mashes up" those two texts. You have to know the other text to get the full field of meanings of the work. But, it also performs the way the author thinks. The author reads, obsesses about those other texts. They shape his or her world-view and idea of poetry. When they appear in the text, that is a statement about the way the poet's mind is not independent and separate, but an effect of all those texts and ideas. And of course, the old texts have a new meaning in the poet's time, culture, in relation to all the other texts the poet has in his or her head. That is performed in the "quotation" too.

Postmodernism takes this further and explicitly rejects (or tries to) the idea of authorship. The self is only the things outside of the self. So, I am only my culture (physical, intellectual, institutional). SO, there is no self, just a node in a web of things. Thus, nothing is properly closed in on itself. No property.

I'll say this: I think it's important not to confuse a term-paper and an art work or poem (that's a reference to an essay written about on Dylan's poetic style and, Elliot and Timrod. I'm happy to provide a link if you are interested). They don't have the same rules because they are not for the same thing. We also shouldn't be such capitalists when thinking about art. Property rights are not the rules of making art. They certainly affect it though.

I'll say this about the Modernists and most postmodernists (there are exceptions) -- the part about challenging the self as source of art didn't necessarily have much of an impact on the idea of ownership and property. They still want to make a living -- even a couple of livings -- being nodes in a self-less culture.

Dylan is participating in the poetic-artistic culture of his time. He is speaking with and through the texts that make up who he is. He is doing just what Elliot did. He is doing it, sometimes, pretty nearly as well.

More than that. He has invented a fascinating literary voice and high-style. I think he believes he has done this. I think Masked and Anonymous and "Love and Theft" are conjoined texts. And there is something grand at work in this era of Dylan's art. Something like an American Art.


Last edited by MMD on Sun June 17th, 2012, 09:34 GMT, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2012, 09:16 GMT 
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Hoooow many tooooopics like thiiis can we haaave ?

Yes , Bob steals . All great artists steal . :)


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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2012, 09:47 GMT 
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The problem with Johanna Parker's comments on Dylan's style is that she is trapped by the legal notion of copyright and intellectual property -- that is, any reproduction of the words (melodies are a slightly different thing) one has not invented wholesale oneself, without the legally required attribution (and presumably required compensation) of those words to their owner, is plagiarism or theft. She has made this structure both universal and moral (and in this she is by no means alone)

However, she also believes that the person is wholly and thoroughly constituted by his or her environment (physical, institutional and intellectual).

The result is that she concedes that Dylan (and every person) has to create in a way that depends on cultural influences (that one is always just speaking one's culture and there is no separate, untouched self that would create something its 'own'), but still holds firm to the legal notion that one person can invent and so own their creations.

She also doesn't seem to recognize the practice of Modernist and Postmodernist poetics in which whole stanzas or even whole poems might be constructed out of other texts. That this is meaningful in multiple ways.

Is Duchamp a plagiarist, for instance? He found bicycles and bicycle parts and made a sculpture out of them. How about Jasper Johns? How about T.S. Elliot?


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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2012, 09:52 GMT 
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MMD is right as usual . Copyrights are capitalistic bullshit . I mean , if they were popular when homo sappiens invented the wheel , the ape that made the first wheel would sue all the other apes . Ideas are free :!:


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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2012, 09:59 GMT 
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Finally, here is a question for scottw:

Does scottw select paragraphs of Dylan's texts and then run them through a search engine to find matching results?

If so -- now, not in the cases where Dylan has incorporated large chunks of Jack London, e.g., or Timrod, but in the cases when scottw locates a word or a phrase of a few words -- how can he be sure that the matches he comes up with are in fact the sources for Dylan's own text? Perhaps Dylan's use of "flabby and gutless" (if I remember the example right from the book discussion thread) is from sharing a culture with the author of the identified book? Perhaps it is not from the book to which scottw attributes it.

How does scottw prove that the allusions, borrowings, incorporations he locates are actually from the sources he asserts. In literary criticism, the threshold of proof for something like that -- to say that Chaucer is alluding/quoting a particular poet -- requires a series of steps. The first, absent direct confirmation from the author, is to determine that the text in question was in the author's possession, that other textual clues suggest this is true, etc. This would be required for every instance.

Goombay, in his comical smart-ass way, hit this right on the head: if every word or short phrase is now going to be said to be a borrowing based on noticing that it occurs in another text, Dylan will in fact have to invent a new language.


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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2012, 10:00 GMT 
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MMD wrote:
The problem with Johanna Parker's comments on Dylan's style is that she is trapped by the legal notion of copyright and intellectual property -- that is, any reproduction of the words (melodies are a slightly different thing) one has not invented wholesale oneself, without the legally required attribution (and presumably required compensation) of those words to their owner, is plagiarism or theft. She has made this structure both universal and moral (and in this she is by no means alone)

However, she also believes that the person is wholly and thoroughly constituted by his or her environment (physical, institutional and intellectual).

The result is that she concedes that Dylan (and every person) has to create in a way that depends on cultural influences (that one is always just speaking one's culture and there is no separate, untouched self that would create something its 'own'), but still holds firm to the legal notion that one person can invent and so own their creations.

She also doesn't seem to recognize the practice of Modernist and Postmodernist poetics in which whole stanzas or even whole poems might be constructed out of other texts. That this is meaningful in multiple ways.

Is Duchamp a plagiarist, for instance? He found bicycles and bicycle parts and made a sculpture out of them. How about Jasper Johns? How about T.S. Elliot?

You are absolutely correct.


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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2012, 10:01 GMT 
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Tragos114 wrote:
MMD is right as usual . Copyrights are capitalistic bullshit . I mean , if they were popular when homo sappiens invented the wheel , the ape that made the first wheel would sue all the other apes . Ideas are free :!:


Nope, not saying they are bullshit. Great invention. I wonder if the idea of copyright was copyrighted? Rather that they are in conflict with a certain kind of artistic creation -- and in conflict with what we know about actual creativity. Still, as everyone has pointed out, Dylan who is actively working in a style that appropriates other's texts, copyrights the sh*t out of his collages. Life is full of contradictions. But that doesn't change a single thing about the way artistic practice has developed since the 20th century.


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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2012, 10:03 GMT 
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MMD wrote:
Finally, here is a question for scottw:

Does scottw select paragraphs of Dylan's texts and then run them through a search engine to find matching results?

If so -- now, not in the cases where Dylan has incorporated large chunks of Jack London, e.g., or Timrod, but in the cases when scottw locates a word or a phrase of a few words -- how can he be sure that the matches he comes up with are in fact the sources for Dylan's own text? Perhaps Dylan's use of "flabby and gutless" (if I remember the example right from the book discussion thread) is from sharing a culture with the author of the identified book? Perhaps it is not from the book to which scottw attributes it.

How does scottw prove that the allusions, borrowings, incorporations he locates are actually from the sources he asserts. In literary criticism, the threshold of proof for something like that -- to say that Chaucer is alluding/quoting a particular poet -- requires a series of steps. The first, absent direct confirmation from the author, is to determine that the text in question was in the author's possession, that other textual clues suggest this is true, etc. This would be required for every instance.

Goombay, in his comical smart-ass way, hit this right on the head: if every word or short phrase is now going to be said to be a borrowing based on noticing that it occurs in another text, Dylan will in fact have to invent a new language.

Not only Dylan but every writer. Imagine the trouble for readers , would it apply to those of us who post on ER as well ?


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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2012, 10:05 GMT 
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bobschool wrote:
Does Bob Plagiarize or is that the wrong word?

Thank you for building this highway. Hopefully this direct route will move some of the the congestion out of the other threads.


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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2012, 10:06 GMT 
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Still Go Barefoot wrote:
bobschool wrote:
Does Bob Plagiarize or is that the wrong word?

Thank you for building this highway. Hopefully this direct route will move some of the the congestion out of the other threads.

Do you really think so ?


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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2012, 10:07 GMT 
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MMD wrote:
The first, absent direct confirmation from the author, is to determine that the text in question was in the author's possession, that other textual clues suggest this is true, etc. This would be required for every instance.


Serious question, MMD, I hope you can answer it for me. In the age of devices such as google books, where even many copyrighted works can be viewed as excerpts, how does one determine whether an author has possession of a text?


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PostPosted: Sun June 17th, 2012, 10:10 GMT 
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I don't like the way Dylan ( or his people ) copyright everything either. But that has nothing to do with Dylan as an artist . In my opinion , the whole concept of copyright is ridiculous. If i want to write a book based on the Drifter's escape , why should i pay Sony first ?


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