Censorship Vs. Copyright

They're totally different!

What distinguishes
Copyright from Censorship?

The profit motive.

There’s one more day to back the Mimi & Eunice’s Intellectual Pooperty minibook project! The above comic won’t be in it, alas, since I just drew it yesterday and the book is already at the printer. But there will be 40 other fine selections from the IP category, in full color.

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Lawyers Using Bots to Hassle Busy People, or: How I had to waste time giving myself permission to quote and paraphrase myself, really

It's all just so bleepin' INSANE.

Here's the deal. Two, no three, years ago a buddy of mine, who shall be nameless so he’s not associated with this mini-quagmire, asked me to contribute a chapter to a book he's editing on a subject near and dear to me. Fine. Glad to. So,  over a year ago I put some of my work-in-progress online at The Valve, a group blog where I have privileges, in order to get feedback on my ideas.

Which I did. Thank you very much, interwebs.

Time goes by, I turn in my final chapter. My buddy likes it, his editor likes it. And then the publisher sends some bots out on the web to compare text in their book-in-progress to whatever's on the web. What happens? My chapter gets flagged because, hey! some of my prose is out there on the web.

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Forbidden Works: The "free speech" rights of secondary authors.

Portrait of Ken Liu

Ken Liu is a speculative fiction author whose stories have been published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, and Lightspeed, among other places. He lives in the Greater Boston area with his wife, artist Lisa Tang Liu, and their daughter. His web site is kenliu.name and he can be reached at <ken (at) kenliu.name>. This essay was originally published in LOGOS: The Journal of the World Book Community, Volume 20, Numbers 1-4, 2009, pp. 110-123. Hats off to Ken for releasing it under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license, thus enabling us to republish his fine essay.  –The Editors

Forbidden Works: The “free speech” rights of secondary authors.

by Ken Liu

If free speech means the right to speak and write as you will, then certainly the copyright laws impose limits on that freedom (there’s no need to bring up the Copyright Clause, the First Amendment, and the like. I’m not making a legal or Constitutional argument at all. I’m simply describing the practical effects of the copyright laws).

For example, I cannot quote the lyrics of “The Sounds of Silence” in a novel without permission; I cannot publish a short story featuring Harry Potter or Jack Sparrow; I cannot improve upon the music of the Dixie Chicks by writing my own lyrics to their songs; I cannot make my own sequel to Spider-Man because I think Spider-Man 2 and 3 are poorly done. From a practical point of view, it makes little difference whether my sequel to The Catcher in the Rye is banned because the government censors dislike it or because a court tells me that it is an infringement of copyright.[1] Sometimes, copyright holders actively use (or abuse) copyright simply to prevent speech that they wish to suppress.[2] These are real limits on my freedom to speak or create.

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