Monday, December 24, 2007

You Can't Make This Shit Up

So... Ian Jukes likes a column by David Pogue on "The Generational Divide in Copyright Morality," so he decides to write a post, changing the name to "The Generational Divide of Copyright Morality," wherein he says:

A terrific article by New York Times Technology columnist David Pogue, who writes about about a big problem facing TV, movie and record companies: Right now, the customers who can't even see why file sharing might be wrong are still young.

Now, I hope you picked up on the fact that the words "Right now" were the beginning of a quote of Pogue's article, because, in fact, the rest of Jukes' post is a quote of the entire article, without quote marks, blockquoting, or any other recognized indication of quotation in the English language.

So then Doug Johnson comes along, doesn't pick up on Jukes' meager citation, and gives Jukes credit for David Pogue's words, as an intro to still more hand-wringing discussion of the morality of copying and sharing content in the digital world.


Seriously, though, am I the only one who actually reads this stuff? And what would it take for someone to start losing credibility on the issue?


Gnuosphere said...

If there is any morality around copyright, it begins with a justified right to reserve attribution.

Hi-lar-ious indeed.

Eric Hoefler said...

Hi Tom,

You said: "And what would it take for someone to start losing credibility on the issue?"

I'm not sure I understand what you mean by that. Would you mind elaborating?

Also, I'm curious as to whether or not you have a take on the copyright issue (or perhaps have written about this earlier). I've just recently started thinking seriously about this and have been trying to listen to as many perspectives as I can find.


DRS said...

I have to admit I read both Jukes' and Johnson's post as well as Stephen Downes' rebuttal and never picked up on the Pogue reference.
Is it just sloppy writing? A change in the way we reference? Cheating?
Thanks for picking up on this.

dalebasler said...

I'm not surprised by Jukes, he's been doing the exact same presentation on "change" for years.

I saw the presentation, after seeing it 4 years earlier, and only a few of the slides changed.

It was literally a presentation about how tech is rapidly changing the world but he didn't change a thing!

The irony was sickening!

Tom Hoffman said...


I mean, if someone is making a statement about, say, copyright, and messing up the attribution of their source, I'd say that demonstrates that maybe one should question how much of a handle they really have on the issue. It is like a mechanic whose car won't start.

Regarding copyright in general, I'm in favor of the law returning to the Founder's Copyright, with more expansive respect for fair use and first sale. I'm against the DMCA, and against DRM -- especially on my computer.


I think it is reasonable to consider it all sloppiness.

Stephen Downes said...

I don't subscribe to Jukes and simply don't read his blog, so I didn't follow the link in Johnson's article.

My response was to the suggestion that youth have a 'different' morality, which was, on the face of it, false.

I didn't even linger on the idea that 'copyright theft' (or whatever you want to call it these days) is unique to youth; that suggestion is just laughable.

As usual, my observation is, if there is immorality in society, it is the adults, not the youth, who are setting the example.

As the current case in point amply demonstrates.

Ian Jukes said...

I hope I have the opportunity to explain what happened.

A couple of days back I posted an article by David Pogue from the New York Times entitled The Generational Divide in Copyright Morality that I first read about at Stephen’s Lighthouse blog at You can find Pogue’s original article at

Not only did I get the title wrong but three paragraphs that I wrote setting up the article and talking about Doug Johnson "Copyright or Copywrong" vanished when I posted it, but didn't notice it - which made it look like I was posting it without attribution - I didn’t notice this until it was pointed out to me, My sincere apologies to anyone who might have interpreted it that way. It was not my intention,

I have also contacted Doug Johnson about this error.

And PS dalebasler, you are absolutely entitled to your opinions, but to set the record straight, I turn over 50% of the content of all of my presentations every year or I take them out of circulation until I can change 50% - and in addition, I try to create at least 3 new presentations every year - this year it's Literacy Isn't Enough, Creating Learning Environments For 21st Century Kids and Into Tomorrow: Moving the Educational Debate - I'm sorry if you feel that nothing had changed, but it absolutely had - the problem is that I continue to get asked to do the old presentations even though I have new ones.

Anyway, I appreciate that it was brought to my attention. If you have any questions or comments about this matter, I can be emailed at

Gnuosphere said...

"Regarding copyright in general, I'm in favor of the law returning to the Founder's Copyright, with more expansive respect for fair use and first sale. I'm against the DMCA, and against DRM -- especially on my computer."

Generally speaking, Tom, I agree with this too though I'm curious as to "Founder's Copyright". Reducing the time that a work exists away from the public domain is definitely a good thing. But the "Founders" were also working from a constitution constructed without the imagination of a digitized and networked world. That's not to blame the (US) founders (how could they have possibly known?) but what do the founders mean by "the Exclusive right"?

Fundamentally, I don't think authors should have the right to fetter noncommercial propagation of their cultural works once they've been published. If authors of cultural works were allowed to fetter the commercial opportunities of others for 14 years that may be a reasonable bargain with the public.

I don't think the founders understood this because they wouldn't have thought twice about noncommercial propagation. Back then, a copy of a work was always tangible (thus, sold commercially to recoup material investment).

So, if the founders never imagined a technology that virtually negates the cost of reproduction, what do you think the laws should say in this case? Along with bringing the time back to 14-years, do you also support the noncommercial propagation of cultural works as a bare minimum right individuals should be entitled to without permission?

Tom Hoffman said...

Basically, I don't think the commercial vs. non-commercial distinction is particularly meaningful. I mean, can I found a 501c3 dedicated to the dissemination of the works of George Lucas and post downloads of the Star Wars movies? Is it better if I can do that non-commercially because I'm already rich?