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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Jack (Who is called Jack) Serious BS: HFA/NMPA Round 2 (135* d) RE: Serious BS: HFA/NMPA Round 2 07 Nov 99


I've been giving this a lot of thought over the weekend, and I'm going to say some things that might not

As terrific as this site is, it is not the sole source of folk music information and fellowship in the world. If it were to vanish completely tommorow, I would still be able to pursue and enjoy my interest in the genre, and find friends who share my passion. I would grieve the loss of this particular outlet, one of the best I have ever found if truth be told. However, neither folk and traditional music, nor my/our interest in it lives and dies with this site.

That said, whatever the outcome of this conflict, I very much doubt that it will involve the complete and permanent shutdown of the Mudcat. They can make a lot of threataning noises, but in the end, most of what we do here isn't covered by copyright law and would have to be allowed to continue--provided Max could afford to keep it going. That means the Forum, the personal pages, the Radio, essentially everything but the lyric database aren't under the domain of laws being invoked by our attackers. In short, we would still get to talk to each other, still get to plan gatherings, still get to hear the radio, and still get to share lyrics that we know.

Third, a great deal of the DT is public domain, or at least listed with the songwriter's written permission. So even if HFA forces the issue, all they can really make Max and Dick to do is to find the "offending" lyrics (if any) and either a) remove them, or b) obtain permission to include them. That could mean a temporary shutdown while the 'clean-up' ensued. It would be a pain, but it would fall far short of a death knell. Even OLGA, who's database was far more dominated by modern popular materiel (i.e. copyrightable stuff), is working its way back. We might have to follow the same road.

Fourth, (and here I'm just spitballing but I think I'm right), if individual's share copyrighted materiel in a public forum it is not a copyright violation. For example, I can take "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkahban" out of the Library and read it to my Cub Scout Den without being in infringement of copyright. I can tell my neighbor the lyrics to "Subterranean Homesick Blues" as an excercise of my free speech rights. In short, in a public forum we can talk to each other and write to each other about published material of any kind in as much detail as we wish, down to the specific words themselves. In short, as individuals, we can communicate amongst ourselves about lyrics in the public arena, verbally or in writing, in excruciating detail, till we're blue in the face and we're protected by the First Amendment. So if (for example) Katlaughing wants to tell me in a public forum about a song I ask her about, she can. Given that we all have our own collections of lyrics, we can continue to share these lyrics with each other and with any other interested individuals, even if the central DT database is shut down or modified. Max would be no more accountable for this type of exchange than the phone company is for what people say to each other over their equipment. Please not that I am not an attorney, and am just expressing what I think is true. This is not formal legal advice.

Finally, I've read a lot of posts that can be paraphrased as "Max, get in there and fight". There's lots of 60's-style rhetoric about fighting the evil corporate greedheads. Well, its one thing to join Greenpeace yourselve, and navigate your boat between a whale and an explosive harpoon on a pursing ship. Its another to tell someone else to do it.




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