Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Policy on use of my work

Please bear in mind that the ultimate objective of this blog is to develop a syndicated column. If you are a print publication and would like to republish an essay of mine, please contact me at

If you are a blogger and would like to use small excerpts of one of my essays, I have no problem with that on two conditions:

1) Please do not edit it in anyway except to omit parts for brevity. Any omissions should not be done in such a way that changes the meaning of the essay or the excerpted parts.

2) Either before or after my excerpted work, please provide a link to the original. My blog's policy is that I always link to postings that I excerpt from, whether I agree with the original work or disagree. It's simple courtesy both to the original author and to readers who might want to see the excerpt in its full context.

#2 has become a little bit of a problem. Particular with the blog Upstate Blue (notice I'm linking to said blog).

This blog recently commented (again I'm linking to said blog) on my entry How to increase voter turnout? More choices!.

Blue was not the only one. So did Adirondack Almanack. But while the Almanack linked to my essay in question, Blue did not.

A deeper look at the situation perhaps reveals why.

Blue quoted the following paragraphs from my essay:

Update: According to County Board of Elections numbers, this year is no different regarding the Democrats inability to field candidates. Republicans are running unopposed in three of the four countywide offices up for grabs."

"Of the 67 local offices available countywide, there are no more than 13 actual Democrats running. There are at least 2 Republicans who lost their party's primary and are running on the GOP line. There are 12 Republicans who were also handed the Democratic line."

"All this means that over 80 percent of the offices up for grabs in Warren County will have no actual Democrat contending."

"It also means that countywide, there are more Republicans on the Democratic ballot line than Democrats."

The thesis of my entry is that since the county Democrats are unable to provide an alternative to Republicans, then other parties should fill that void.

I wrote: What I'd like to see The Post-Star do is encourage people to considering joining and being active in smaller parties. It should encourage smaller parties to run their own candidates, rather than to simply glom on to a GOP primary loser.

I also have links in my blog to the New York and US Green parties.

However, Blue read the same entry and same blog and essay and concluded: Goes to show you just how much work actually to be done in order to finally build a viable Democratic infrastructure throughout this region....

He is more than entitled to his own opinion. We both recognize the same problem but offer different answers. He believes Democrats are the solution. I believe Greens are the solution. This is perfectly legitimate. I don't disrespect his position. I have no problem working with or voting for Democrats who truly are and act progressive. I certainly am not trying to trash his blog. And I certainly welcome a discussion on the issue... if it's done in the right way.

If Blue had written, "Brian thinks x is the answer but I believe y is the solution because...", I wouldn't have had a problem with that.

However, I consider it very dubious to quote my essay to support a conclusion that's completely different from my own without even acknowleging my conclusion or linking to my essay for people to make up their own minds. When President Bush compared himself to Gandhi, people were rightly revolted.

Bear in mind that this is not the first time Blue has excerpted my work out of context.

I really hope Blue is interested in dialogues, not echo chambers. For example, in this piece (AGAIN I link to his work for readers to judge for themselves), he criticizes one of my essays (AGAIN without linking to it). He claims I misrepresented his position on term limits in Glens Falls and the objective of his blog. Ironic, considering s/he misrepresented my conclusion on the Democrats' inability to field candidates.

Simply put, I support the increasing involvement and influence of smaller parties in general and of the Green Party in particular. It should be quite clear to anyone who reads my blog regularly.

If excerpts of my essays are going to be used to support Democrat politics, then I expect that my pro-smaller party position should at least be acknowleged... if only for the author who's USING MY WORK to explain why that's not the path to follow. Again, it's simple courtesy.

Whether I misrepresented Upstate Blue's objective or position is a matter of interpretation. It is something I'd be more than happy to discuss. However, Blue never left a comment in the apparently offending blog entry. He never sent me an email. He never contacted me in any way to express his concerns about my alleged misdeed. He simply wrote a blog entry that I discovered five months later only because someone else had directed me to a more recent entry and I happened to do a search of the site on my name and blog.

This doesn't facilitate dialogue.

(For the record, I HAVE recently emailed Blue to express my concerns.)

The purpose of this entry is not to attack Blue. Although it's not one of my regular reads, it certainly has some interesting stuff and I would never dissuade anyone from reading it. I simply want to ask Blue and all others to link to my entries they use and to quote my work in an appropriate manner.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Update: I sent a cordial email to Upstate Blue on this topic three days, however it has not even been acknowleged. Blue has posted an entry since I sent the email so I assume it's been read.


PCS said...

Brian, I agree that something needs to be done in this country to give more people more of a say in what happens. When I voted yesterday I didn't vote for a single person in the Dem or Repub line. I voted for people that were cross-listed in the small parties. But do you really think we will ever see a politically and powerful viable third party in my lifetime?

Mark said...

I looked at all of the links you provided, and I concur that there is indeed a lack of proper citing and quoting on Blue's part.

Anonymous said...

This sounds fair and to the point.

Brian said...

PCS: I think the change in the political system, true multipartyism, is going to have to come from the ground up. It's going to have to start in the localities and states first. As such, it's going to be a long process. Change in American politics always comes glacial. And there's long history of the two major parties cannibalizing the ideas of the smaller parties. I wouldn't have a problem with the Dems co-opting the ideas of the Greens, so long as this resulted in action. Because the idea is positive change, not the Green Party for its own sake. However, there is too much corporate money in the Democratic Party for me to have any faith that this is likely to happen in the near future. The only way this is going to happen quickly is via a federal constitutional amendment explicitly declaring that what is fairly obvious to me, that money is not speech (it's property). But the vested interests against such a change make this highly improbable.