Monday, July 16, 2007

The Purloined Bibliography

Chronicle : By Clement Vincent
I would have been pleased with a simple footnote of acknowledgment. But it wasn't there.

...I finally wrote a letter to the authors and the publisher asserting the dependency of the book on my Web site and appended a 17-page table of evidence. I requested that the publisher republish the book, or a portion of it, with credit to me as a co-editor. I sent the letter by e-mail message as well as by overseas mail and then waited for a response, half worrying that I would be totally ignored by all parties.

Within two days, however, I received an e-mail message from the publishing house inviting discussion regarding two legal issues. The publisher questioned, first, whether a copyright could be asserted for a Web site; and second, whether a bibliography as such could be copyrighted since, presumably, all bibliographies are compilations of previous bibliographies. The message closed with the promise to contact the authors to hear their responses to my letter.

I decided not to enter into a discussion of the two legal issues. I am not an expert on international copyright law, and I knew the bibliography was my own creation. I responded to the publisher with a brief note expressing thanks for the quick response and an eagerness to hear from the authors.

Two weeks later, I received a second e-mail message from the publisher. One of the authors of the volume had 'confirmed his regret for what has happened" and noted that a rush in correcting the proofs had "caused the omission" of any reference to my work. I found the author's explanation to be diplomatic at best, but I was gratified at the admission. The publisher followed with an offer to reprint the last portion of the book with my name stated as co-editor. Several months later, I received the reprints.

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