Trudgill in Vocabula

Geoff Nathan an6993 at WAYNE.EDU
Tue Jun 17 17:48:46 UTC 2003

At 01:32 PM 6/17/2003 -0400, you wrote:
>And when I copy and distribute an article from the New York Times
>or my own small town newspaper, I'm also to write for permission
>first??  His (private) reply to me suggests that this is indeed the law,
>and that I must surely be aware of it.  However, our university library and
>the local commercial copy centers tell us such personal use copying is
>legal, and surely my fellow academics all over the country are under the
>same impression.

I've stayed out of this discussion, in part because I think that tempers
have flared a little beyond what was necessary, and in part because I
believe the association between prescriptivism and 'right wing' political
views suggested by some is not my experience at all.  Many of my extremely
'left-wing' English department colleagues (the kind who write about social
construction, post-colonial discourse etc. etc.) are also rabid
prescriptivists echoing many of the comments cited from Vocabula, while I
myself, a card-carrying Libertarian (whom some might mistakenly call
'right-wing') have an extremely permissive attitude towards spoken English
(although I'm also irritated by written confusion between 'affect' and

But as policy wonk for Academic Computing at Wayne State I should point out
that it is indeed illegal to copy journal articles and distribute them
indiscriminately, and I'm very surprised that your local copy centers do
this--national chains like Kinko's routinely seek permission from
publishers in the construction of course packets.  The use of copyrighted
materials in teaching is very much a live issue (the recently passed TEACH
act deals exactly with the topic in using such materials in on-line
courses--references available on request) and is extensively known and
discussed on our campus.
On the other hand, quoting from copyrighted materials in order to comment
on them is considered 'fair use' and perfectly legal.


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