Re: Re SGML URC spec comments

Terry Allen (
Sun, 25 Jun 1995 19:33:45 -0700

From: "Terry Allen" <>
Message-Id: <>
Date: Sun, 25 Jun 1995 19:33:45 -0700
In-Reply-To: (Paul Hoffman)
To: (Paul Hoffman), "Terry Allen" <>
Subject: Re: Re SGML URC spec comments

Paul Hoffman:
| >>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".

Global annotations are designed to be displayed as overlays on the
base text, right?  This is not "pointing to," which of course is
fair use.  This is something that has no equivalent in print (for
a change).

| >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
| >1995.
| <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*. 

Tortured?  They carried a banner identifying themselves.  That was the 
point for them, as they remarked in public.  It was an act of speech
(accomplished through being in the parade); the Court ruled that the 
organizers had the right to exclude them.  That's all.

| 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.)

The case was decided in the Supreme Court, not in Boston.  Don't get
lost in the details of the case.  The point Souter makes is that the
speaker gets a clear shot at his audience, without overlay, if he so

| And, as far as I know, the parade organizers never questioned the right of
| the GLBG to *comment on* the parade. 

Their participation was construed as speech; by questioning their 
participation the parade organizers asserted their right to free
speech (thus ruled the court).  In any event, *I'm* questioning the
right of anybody, without permission, to overlay their speech on
documents I publish on the Web.  Don't get lost in the details of
the Boston case.

| 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.

As is free speech on the Net, right?

| 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?

Can you suggest a better model for free speech than the U.S. tradition?
Would you suggest that we adopt the median worldwide standard for
freedom of speech?  the average?  This is not about US-centrism, this
is about whether publishers on the Web will be allowed to control 
the conditions under which their information is presented.  You can
be certain that if they cannot do that with present technology they
will be in the market for future technology that allows them to.


Terry Allen  (   O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
Editor, Digital Media Group    101 Morris St.
			       Sebastopol, Calif., 95472

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