Re: Re SGML URC spec comments

Paul Hoffman (
Sun, 25 Jun 1995 15:47:53 -0700

Message-Id: <v02120c0eac13937f7a7a@[]>
Date: Sun, 25 Jun 1995 15:47:53 -0700
To: "Terry Allen" <>
From: (Paul Hoffman)
Subject: Re: Re SGML URC spec comments

At 1:29 PM 6/25/95, Terry Allen wrote:
>I think Ron answered Brian's questions about VRML the way I would.
>I want to take issue again with Brian's suggestion that wrt global
>>The right to
>>attach these comments should *not* be controlled by the author
>I've argued against this in the past on copyright grounds (and I
>still feel that way).

Well, I'm no expert on the Berne Convention, but I'm pretty damn sure that
the concept of fair use is in there. I know of no country that disallows
criticism of the written word based on copyright law. There are lots of
decisions in many countries about how much material you can quote in such
criticism, but I'd be very interested in ones which say "you can't point at
all to a written document when you criticize it".

>I've argued against this in the past on copyright grounds (and I
>still feel that way).  However, Justice Souter's recent decision
>in Hurley v. Irish-American GLB Group of Boston suggests that there
>is a First Amendment angle:
>"The fundamental rule of protection under the First Amendment ...
>[is] that a speaker has the autonomy to choose the content of his
>own message."
>I maintain that the Hurley case is precisely parallel to what global
>annos without author permission would amount to:  the I-A GLB G of
>Boston wanted to comment on the parade without the permission of the
>parade organizers (who won).  For excerpts, see NYT Tuesday, June 26

<getting on soapbox>

Terry, this is the most tortured reading of this ruling I've come across
this week. I'm quite familiar with the facts of the case, and the GLBG did
not want to comment on the parade: they wanted to *be in it*. That's a huge
difference, wouldn't you say? (For the news impaired in the audience, the
basic issue was that a large group of Irish-American lesbians, gays, and
bisexuals wanted to march in the city-authorized St. Patrick's Day parade
and the parade organizers, who were not a government body, didn't want them
in their parade. If you've ever lived in open-minded Boston, you can
imagine how this played out.)

And, as far as I know, the parade organizers never questioned the right of
the GLBG to *comment on* the parade. What Souter and the majority said was
that in a protected form of expression, no one else can force their way
into the expression, regardless of the legal status of those trying to get
in. And, the court reiterated what they had said off and on before, that a
parade is a form of protected expression.

<off soapbox>
<getting on soapbox again, this time wearing a different hat>

And, even if your reading of the case was correct, who says that a single
ruling from one country's supreme court should have an effect on what is
and isn't allowed or specified on the world-wide Internet? Let's ease up on
the US-centrism a bit here, shall we?

<off soapbox>

--Paul Hoffman
--Proper Publishing