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Re: how AZTLAN list violated its own guidelines

I sent this to Mr. Kuchinsky this morning, saying that I hesitated to
choose which *one* group to send it to although I'd prefer sci.archaeology. 
His reply indicated that he was not seeking reinstatement to AZTLAN at this
time (hence an offer in my last paragraph would not be taken up) but that
he would appreciate seeing this posted there.

I'm mildly interested in seeing comments on what follows, not regarding the
facts of the case, let alone Yuri Kuchinsky's virtues (people *may*
remember that our last contact was a brief flamewar, see the thread now
thankfully dead "Ancient World FAQs"), but rather regarding the etiquette
of scholarly mailing lists in general - in other words, I'm curious whether
I'm off base here and risking my own membership if I act by the general
methods I recommend on the lists I subscribe to.  (I do fully expect flames
saying I risk my intellectual integrity or whatever by using such methods,
and can only reply that I don't really care about those people's opinions.)

In article <5e7jhe$5t1$1@trends.ca>, Mr. Kuchinsky (e-mail address mislaid
now) wrote:

[big snip]
>Little that I knew at that point, gentle reader, that the issue of
>whether or not I was _entitled_ to forward her posting to Mike will
>become a big issue on AZTLAN! How really strange! 
>She soon came out -- believe it or not -- with the claim that I
>violated the law (!) by doing so...
>Of course she demonstrated her clear and obvious lack of familiarity
>with legal issues of copyright in claiming what she did. Apparently,
>she didn't realise that anything posted in a mailing list enters the
>public domain, and can be legitimately disseminated under certain
>conditions -- just like any published article can be disseminated.
[another big snip]

I'm a bit at a loss here.  From the posts you posted, I'd be inclined to
say you were indeed disruptive by the usual standards of an academic list,
but not to such an extent as would (in my opinion, having run a mailing
list but not an academic one) justify unsubscribing you right away and
without warning.

The main reason I think you were disruptive is that when presented with the
complaints of a senior member of the list (and here I use "senior" with
respect to both her literal seniority [clarification:  seniority in
membership on the list] and her academic status), instead of apologising
and shutting up, *or* taking it to private e-mail, you chose to start
arguing the law.

Lots and lots of us who use the Usenet and Internet media understand
anything posted in a mailing list to be copyright by its poster under the
Bern convention, although it's certainly clear that usual practice is to
permit pretty free infringements of such copyright.  To the best of my
recollection, the most widely promulgated copyright FAQ on Usenet, Brad
Templeton's about "copyright myths", says something of this sort.  I
suppose it's possible that we're all wrong, but this belief certainly
underlies (for example) scholars' willingness to post papers on such lists;
it's obviously widely held.  Even *if* we're wrong, though, it's
irrelevant:  arguing about copyright strikes me as significantly off-topic
on any academic list - as opposed to (say) arguing about the relative
merits of Sanskrit fonts, or the difficulty of getting visas to and from
Iran, topics I've seen on two lists I'm on.  And doing so in your initial
posts (let alone ten, the majority of them on this subject, in a single
week!) strikes me as somewhat unwise.

In a situation where you were already disliked by a significant number of
the list's subscribers, I'd call that behaving somewhat disruptively.  Were
I the moderator, I'd warn you to stop; such a warning is, you say, promised
you by the moderator's stated policies anyway.

Given that you didn't get that warning, and given that your posts were all
quite courteous under the circumstances, *and* given that I have no reason
to think you wouldn't have slowed down upon being warned, I'd say - judging
strictly by your side of the story, since I haven't heard the other - you
were wronged somewhat.

In any event.  Should you wish it, you *do* have my permission to forward
this post of mine to the moderator, or I'd be happy to do so myself.  But
that's about the extent to which I'm likely to concern myself with the
matter.  As others have pointed out, it is a private list, and it's not
really my business.  It's just that I have the impression - albeit from a
quite scattershot reading of your debates - that you're learning how to do
research, and I'd like to see you continue to have opportunities to learn.

Joe Bernstein
Joe Bernstein, writer, bank consultant, and bookseller joe@sfbooks.com
speaking for myself and nobody else    http://www.tezcat.com/~josephb/