[LMB] OT: picking a scene

John Lennard john.c.lennard at gmail.com
Thu Sep 8 16:52:10 BST 2011

>This is a vital professional matter  for me, and if I have missed a
effectively defining the limit of  Fair Use as 250 words it's very important
that I remedy that error.  Thanks.

Mary: _www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html_
(http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html)    seems to explain it fairly
well.  Apparently it's mostly based on
precedent, with no actual number of words given.  It would be very hard  to
write a review without quoting, after all.

John: Yes, I'm familiar with that info, thanks. The point was that Pete
stated a 250-word limit as a matter of fact, and I wanted to know what his
source or authority was. As he's obviously unwilling to provide one, the
250-claim just gets Filed Under Suppositious Exactitude, I suppose.

More generally, such groundless statements of fact are problematical -- and
the people who like them most are publishers who see a chance to roll back
Fair Use and claim more licensing fees. In the last five years I have been
variously informed by literary agents and/or people working for large
publishers that:

a) Fair Use does not apply to children's books and YA writing
b) Fair Use has no legal meaning at all
c) Fair Use does not apply to digitally published work
d) Fair Use can only be claimed by someone who is either a contracted
reviewer or an institutionally employed academic.

All of these claims are false. All but one were accompanied by demands for
payments ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

And while I'm on the subject, it was also claimed (by Simon & Schuster in
NYC) that for permission to quote in a digital publication, application must
be made separately to their US and UK offices, and two fees paid. Also
untrue -- so far ; there is no legal zoning of rights regarding use in
digital publication, only the ongoing attempts of some houses to make it so.

I *never* cheat on proper licensing fees and permissions, and I object to
sly and unethical attempts to reduce or compromise Fair Use. If you're
*ever* having to deal with a publisher over permissions, make sure *you*
know the law, and if you get any BS, ask for their legal reasoning, and if
necessary to speak to a retained lawyer. False claims for fees then tend,
oddly, to be dropped.

John Lennard, MA DPhil. (Oxon.), MA (WU)
Director of Studies in English, St Catharine's College

General editor, Humanities-E-Books Genre Fiction Sightlines and Monographs

More information about the Lois-Bujold mailing list