I read a lot of web logs. My favourites are the ones where people take the time to write out their thoughts or tell a short story. Sometimes I enjoy videos. I also enjoy well-researched and informative pieces written by someone who knows their material.
I’m a writer. I have good days and I have bad days. There are posts on here that flowed out of my brain via my fingertips as fast as I could type. There are posts on here that reek to high heaven. But I wrote every blessed one of them myself. Where I did not write something I credit the author with the web-accepted practice of hotlinking. That, after all, is the whole point of a web log.
Here’s the problem. I’m also the daughter of an English teacher. My dad built bookshelves in our basement, and my mom kept her teacher’s editions of all her middle school and high school literature texts on those shelves–within easy reach of her avid reader daughter.
This poem is called Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening. I first read it in a unit on Robert Frost in one of my mom’s literature textbooks when I was seven. Back then I didn’t get the death symbolism at all. But I loved the poem and had parts of it memorised off and on. Robert Frost is one of my favourite poets. As lame as that may sound. As unhip as that may sound. So to see his work copied on another blog without attribute and under a different title burns me up.
It’s stealing. It is, in effect, telling everyone that the web log author themselves composed the poem.
I know Frost doesn’t need me coming to his rescue. But I’m protective of the idea of intellectual property, maybe irrationally so. And in all the definitions I’ve seen of Fair Use, copying an author’s entire work without attribution falls clearly outside the doctrine of Fair Use and well into the realm of sneakthievery.
Update: I realise it doesn’t matter to some of the commenters on this thread. But I did check and the poem itself is most definitely still under copyright protection.
Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” from The Poetry of Robert Frost, edited by Edward Connery Lathem. Copyright 1923, © 1969 by Henry Holt and Company, Inc., renewed 1951, by Robert Frost. Reprinted with the permission of Henry Holt and Company, LLC.
“Everyone” may know that Frost wrote the poem. The law still says that you have to label it, as in the above example.