Slightly Ironic Burroughs Quotation Farce

by on March 1, 2006

At the beginning of the month, I posted a comment on one of Framfab’s public blog postings. It was, as usual, rather spur of the moment, in between coffee and the next round of application testing we’re doing. In it, I clipped some text I found around a quote from Naked Lunch that I was looking for. I originally just wanted the quote, but the text I found around it served my point rather well. I should have attributed it, but what happened next was interesting.

I also posted the same text on the blog that was referenced in the Framfab posting for good measure. Yes, again unattributed – I sinned. So with the apologies done with, here’s what I found interesting:

The author of the text I ripped off contacted the owner of the blog that I’d posted to. I don’t know what he said exactly, but the owner removed my post and seems to have taken it upon himself to track down my use of the text on Framfab’s blog as well. Why he would do that is in itself odd, but that’s his perogative of course. I would have thought simply editing the post to include the desired attribution and leaving it at that would have been enough. After all, we’re talking about copyright here, not state secrets. Call me old fashioned, but it’s just stupid to deny the readers of his blog the insight (and I use that term advisedly) I had provided. The whole atmosphere around “intellectual property” is getting out of hand if this sort of thing is going on. Props though to the Framfab Blogmeister for simply doing the right thing and editing my post to make the attribution clear. No war against intelligence there, thankfully.

Another somewhat less interesting, but still noteworthly, point is that assuming it took about a week to ten days for the Googlebots (or whoever) to index that blog, this meant the author took about ten days to spot the crime. That’s pretty quick isn’t it? I note that the text was from a thesis he wrote at college. He then allowed the site I found it on to publish it, presumably because it would not have seen much daylight otherwise. The quote that appears in it (the one I was originally looking for to make my point with) figures in several places on Google in different contexts. So what is this guy doing? Has he got some kind of automated IP checker? Does he do random searches in his spare time for stuff he’s written? Why?

Weird. Maybe it was just a fluke. Again, none of this is meant to excuse my lack of consideration for not attributing that quote, mind you.

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