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An AAR Cautionary Tale on Online Historical Ownership
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LLB



Joined: 21 Mar 2007
Posts: 869
Location: Dallas, Texas

PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 9:51 am    Post subject: An AAR Cautionary Tale on Online Historical Ownership Reply with quote

I rarely take blog material - this is not protected, so it is allowed by my own guidelines - and write about it here, but after a full day of almost nothing, I thought I had nothing to lose by bringing it here. My bottom line question, after you read the entry (and comments) is this: Is there any such thing as historical or intellectual ownership on the Internet or are most of us simply roadkill on the Internet highway?

Please feel free to comment either here or on the blog...I'm not picky, but I do think this is something important, and not simply to me.
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Tee



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 4223
Location: Detroit Metro

PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 11:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I understand where you're coming from on this; but because the Internet is so global, I think it's almost impossible for many to know originations of terms, etc. Now for those who do know them, it's inexcusable not to give credit. For instance, if I were a poster on other romance message boards (excluding AAR) and saw DIK referred to several times, I would have no clue that it originated at AAR. And I would probably use it myself when describing an exceptional book, thinking it was a generally used Internet reading term. And once used on the Internet, you may as well times that by millions, because of the amount of people seeing it.

In fact, thru the years, all of us are guilty at one time or another of using Brand names as common words in language, forgetting their regular name. Just because they've been used so much, we actually think that is what the product is called or the action they describe. For instance, all the italicized words below are really brand names, not the common household name--

Hand me a kleenex.
Xerox this for me.
Need some scotch tape?
Put this in a thermos bottle.
I need velcro for this.
I'll write it on a post it (and this is a fairly new term but yet accepted widely).
Let's go in the jacuzzi (yep, it's a brand name).
Wrap it in saran wrap.

Maybe the best way to look at it is the popular saying that "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." They like the term and you can feel good knowing you put it out there. Other than that, I don't know how else you can keep it from flying around with or without credit given. It'll just be absorbed into the romance reading world and the rest is history.
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LLB



Joined: 21 Mar 2007
Posts: 869
Location: Dallas, Texas

PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 11:38 am    Post subject: Research? Reply with quote

Tee -

Obviously readers have no need to research the history of a term, but if I were going to start a website/blog and use ANY sort of term and/or acronym, I would feel duty bound to check into it. Indeed, I just googled both Desert Isle Keeper and Desert Island Keeper, and AAR came up first. That would have been my first clue. As I wrote in my letter to Sybil and added in my blog entry, people newer to the Internet might not have known the history, but in any case, I think it should have been researched. I cannot imagine naming a website or blog without doing that. But again, that's because I have a journalistic viewpoint and, as my husband keeps pointing out, that's "old-fashioned" these days.
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Tee



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 4223
Location: Detroit Metro

PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 12:02 pm    Post subject: Re: Research? Reply with quote

LLB wrote:
But again, that's because I have a journalistic viewpoint and, as my husband keeps pointing out, that's "old-fashioned" these days.

When I was working in a school district's public relations office, both of the administrators were former journalists with one of our major newspaper dailies. There was an integrity about them that I admired and that they brought to the position and which sadly seems to be lacking occasionally among journalists today. That's not a broad statement of journalists, though, by any means. But I think getting the "McDonald's" fast way of news on TV and the Internet these days, has made the newspaper journalist have to struggle harder in order to compete. In fact, many people don't even subscribe to newspapers at all anymore. Before something went to print, it had to be researched well enough in order to avoid printing something false. I'm not sure how careful things are out there now.

But I have no clue how something can be stopped from being used once it's on the Internet. The spread is so quick and wide reaching that it's almost impossible to control. Just think about all those emails that we receive that contain such falsehoods and untruths. People don't even bother checking them out before they hit the forward button and continue sending them on, especially now that we're in an election year. All they have to do is check the Snopes site (or something similar) to see if there's any basis of truth in them. And many of these messages have maligned people and their decisions and are outright untrue.

But you can do what you're doing and that's voicing your opinion. We do what we can and you can't be cited for not taking a step when you had the opportunity.
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MaryK



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
Posts: 177
Location: Denham Springs, La

PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 1:02 pm    Post subject: DIKs Reply with quote

I was a bit taken aback when I first saw that website referenced, and I still have a negative reaction whenever I see it mentioned. But, I've heard of a similar kind of thing happening for years. Squatters buy up celebrity domain names and then try to sell them to the celebrities at exorbitant prices.

Also, (and I hate to bring this up and don't think it's as big a deal as appropriating a title for a website) I've seen you claim the term manaconda which I first heard as the title of an Ellora's Cave anthology in May 2004. So I can understand how it's possible to internalize a word or concept to the point of forgetting that someone else came up with it and may have a proprietary feeling towards it.

If appropriating the DIK name was unintentional, I'd expect them to at least add to their homepage an acknowledgment that AAR originated the term.

P.S. - Their "DIKs" are going to be more numerous and more lax and, given the prominence of the name, get more publicity. That could tend to dilute/weaken the perception of AAR's DIKs. Maybe you should copyright (or trademark or whatever) "DIK at AAR."
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MMcA



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 667

PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not a blogger, so I haven't had a reason to think the issue through, but my instinctive response would be that the acronym 'DIK' has become a word, and words don't belong to specific people.
If, say, I started a blog called 'Proud to be a Nimby!' I wouldn't think it stepped on the toes of whoever originally coined the word 'Nimby' any more than it stepped on the toes of whoever originally coined the word 'Proud'.

Having said that, if I'd coined a word that made it into general usage, I'd be thrilled. I think you should festoon AAR with signs saying 'Home of the DIK since 19XX!', so that if the word makes it as far as the OED, you're properly credited.
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LLB



Joined: 21 Mar 2007
Posts: 869
Location: Dallas, Texas

PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 1:33 pm    Post subject: Re: DIKs Reply with quote

MaryK wrote:
Also, (and I hate to bring this up and don't think it's as big a deal as appropriating a title for a website) I've seen you claim the term manaconda which I first heard as the title of an Ellora's Cave anthology in May 2004. So I can understand how it's possible to internalize a word or concept to the point of forgetting that someone else came up with it and may have a proprietary feeling towards it.

P.S. - Their "DIKs" are going to be more numerous and more lax and, given the prominence of the name, get more publicity. That could tend to dilute/weaken the perception of AAR's DIKs. Maybe you should copyright (or trademark or whatever) "DIK at AAR."


MaryK -

I went back to ATBF and see that my column was published in 2004 as well, and in looking at my copy of the book you referenced - which I didn't know existed until a year or so later - it was published in May of that year. My column came out in October, less than six months after, so I take your point, but I don't know how similar I view the two instances given that we're talking more than a decade of usage and the use of a term in a column as opposed to the name of an entire venue.

Quote:
Here are the themes I'll be talking about with Lucy Monroe:

* The Ugly Duckling or Faux Ugly Duckling
* The Enigmatic and Beautiful Loner Hero
* The Geek Hero
* Sexuality, Sexual Chemistry, Sexual Confidence, and Love Scenes
* The "Manaconda" (I'm very proud of myself for making that one up!)
* Weird Words
* The Idiosyncratic Sidekick (crusty or otherwise)
* The Orphan or Orphan by Proxy



As for the trademarking, the cat's out of the bag. And even if you do trademark something, you've got to be the on the lookout for usages of it so that you can take "cease and desist" and follow-up legal action. At this point in AAR's life, given that we no longer accept advertising, I'm basically paying for the site out of pocket, subsidized by Amazon commissions. Those don't come near to matching site/blog costs, so adding trademark fees into the mix is no longer feasible.

I'm overall just surprised, and sad, at the lack of "OMG...I can't believe they did such a thing!" It honestly makes me rethink my commitment here. My sense is that I'll get over it, but as I wrote in the piece, I've already gone through one crisis of confidence this year.
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Last edited by LLB on Fri Sep 26, 2008 2:49 pm; edited 3 times in total
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LLB



Joined: 21 Mar 2007
Posts: 869
Location: Dallas, Texas

PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 1:36 pm    Post subject: I like that idea Reply with quote

MMcA wrote:
I'm not a blogger, so I haven't had a reason to think the issue through, but my instinctive response would be that the acronym 'DIK' has become a word, and words don't belong to specific people.
If, say, I started a blog called 'Proud to be a Nimby!' I wouldn't think it stepped on the toes of whoever originally coined the word 'Nimby' any more than it stepped on the toes of whoever originally coined the word 'Proud'.

Having said that, if I'd coined a word that made it into general usage, I'd be thrilled. I think you should festoon AAR with signs saying 'Home of the DIK since 19XX!', so that if the word makes it as far as the OED, you're properly credited.


I like that idea very, very much. I think I will do that, and begin the design process today. Thanks for the idea.
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LLB



Joined: 21 Mar 2007
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Location: Dallas, Texas

PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 2:52 pm    Post subject: Thanks, MMca Reply with quote

Just added to our home page in lieu of the Romantic Teasers image/link because the last Romantic Teasers full-page ad expired as part of our phase-out of advertising:



Thanks for the idea. I feel slightly better now, and also adjusted our FAQ, which already referenced the term Desert Isle Keeper/DIK (and has been online for years and years).
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MaryK



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
Posts: 177
Location: Denham Springs, La

PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 4:07 pm    Post subject: Re: DIKs Reply with quote

LLB wrote:
My column came out in October, less than six months after, so I take your point, but I don't know how similar I view the two instances given that we're talking more than a decade of usage and the use of a term in a column as opposed to the name of an entire venue.

My point was that people internalize apt descriptors to the point that they become common usage (like MMcA said) and that the owners of the DIK website might not have realized they were appropriating the term or that the appropriating would be offensive.

LLB wrote:
I'm overall just surprised, and sad, at the lack of "OMG...I can't believe they did such a thing!"

This kind of thing isn't shocking any more. The internet is a vehicle for copying and borrowing, and nobody pays attention to whether or not copying and borrowing is appropriate.
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LLB



Joined: 21 Mar 2007
Posts: 869
Location: Dallas, Texas

PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 4:19 pm    Post subject: What *I* did Reply with quote

Mary -

Earlier this afternoon I updated the ATBF wherein I referred to my "invention" of the word "manaconda." It now states within the column:

Quote:
*9/2008: I've been informed that somebody else came up with the term "manaconda" prior to me; it's the title of an Ellora's Cave anthology published in May 2004, almost six months prior to my writing of this column.


Further, I've started a "give credit where it's due campaign" for any of those who might be inclined, as explained both here on this forum and on my blog.
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Tee



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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Location: Detroit Metro

PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 4:34 pm    Post subject: Re: Thanks, MMca Reply with quote

LLB wrote:



Good job!
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Sunita



Joined: 29 Sep 2007
Posts: 133

PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 6:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I first saw the DIK list on AAR, years and years ago, the first thing I thought of was "Desert Island Discs," a weekly BBC radio show that has been on the air since 1942. In that show, celebrities name 8 albums (now CDs, I guess) and 1 book (excluding the Bible and Shakespeare) that they would want to have with them on a desert island. I don't hear about the show that much now, but it was a real institution on the BBC and it was broadcast on the World Service, so plenty of people outside the UK were familiar with it as well.

I just assumed that DIKs were a riff on the show, and therefore not an original concept but a really clever extension to romance novels.

As far as internet property rights go, it seems pretty clear that old-media approaches to copyright and intellectual ownership are highly contested in the web world. Even leaving aside clear copyright theft, one person's fair use is another person's stealing. And as long as reasonable and intelligent people can disagree, we're not going to reach any sort of consensus.
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LLB



Joined: 21 Mar 2007
Posts: 869
Location: Dallas, Texas

PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 7:31 pm    Post subject: I see your point too, but Reply with quote

Sunita wrote:
When I first saw the DIK list on AAR, years and years ago, the first thing I thought of was "Desert Island Discs," a weekly BBC radio show that has been on the air since 1942. In that show, celebrities name 8 albums (now CDs, I guess) and 1 book (excluding the Bible and Shakespeare) that they would want to have with them on a desert island. I don't hear about the show that much now, but it was a real institution on the BBC and it was broadcast on the World Service, so plenty of people outside the UK were familiar with it as well.

I just assumed that DIKs were a riff on the show, and therefore not an original concept but a really clever extension to romance novels.

As far as internet property rights go, it seems pretty clear that old-media approaches to copyright and intellectual ownership are highly contested in the web world. Even leaving aside clear copyright theft, one person's fair use is another person's stealing. And as long as reasonable and intelligent people can disagree, we're not going to reach any sort of consensus.


Sunita -

I see your point as well, but I've heard from an anonymous source since starting this discussion that AAR was mentioned when the idea of naming the blog came up. I can't go into more detail at this point because I don't have full permission - the individual may come forward herself OR give me full permission to use her email - but that tells you it wasn't an organic out of the blue thing on their end. They knew what they were doing...and did it anyway.

And, btw, "fair use" as I understand it does not extend to anything permanent. It is supposed to be for temporary use only.
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HeatherB



Joined: 19 Jul 2007
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 27, 2008 9:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't see why it would hurt to do an acknowledgment. To me, it's that easy. The lack of an acknowledgment would bother me too. However, this is a wonderful site, the best of the romance sites in my opinion, and I would keep that foremost in mind.
Heather B
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Last edited by HeatherB on Sat Sep 27, 2008 9:30 am; edited 1 time in total
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