Re: [rumori] MIT Press and fair use

From: Darren Wershler-Henry (
Date: Wed Mar 19 2003 - 14:10:18 PST

A number of years ago, I published an essay on Ice-T and gangsta style in a
collection called _Postmodern Apocalypse_ (U Penn Press, ed Richard
Dellamora). The essay quoted maybe 8 lines of lyrics total. For a small-run,
academic book, I figured, no problem; fair use will cover my ass. But one of
Ice-T's labels wanted thousands of dollars US for lyrics from _Power_ -- so
I dropped them -- and another label settled, after much wrangling, for mere
hundreds. The editor and the press ponied up, after much debate. But I don't
write on music anymore. It's great to see MIT stepping to the plate; at
least they're putting their money and resources to good use.

On 3/19/03 4:59 PM, "James Allenspach" <> wrote:

> From Lawrence Lessig's blog, via
> It's a pretty short entry, so I'll include it all here. (Fair use, heh.)
> jma
> --
> the good that MIT does
> I met Berkeley CS Professor Christos Papadimitriou yesterday. He
> told me an extraordinary story (which he allowed me to share).
> Papadimitriou is publishing a book this summer with MIT Press. The
> book is a novel titled Turing. As Papadimitriou describes it, in one
> chapter he has a single line from about a dozen rock-n-roll songs. The
> editors at MIT press decided to seek permission for each of the 12
> single lines. They sent out 12 letters. They received 10 forms (which
> had to be completed before the request could be considered) and two replies.
> One reply, from the representatives of the Kinks, demanded $10,000
> for permission to reprint the line ³help me, help me, help, me sail
> away² from the song ³Sunny afternoon.²
> The other reply, from representatives of the Kobain estate (which I
> assume is within Courtney Love¹s control) forbids him from reprinting
> the line ³polly says her back hurts² from the Nirvana song ³Polly.²
> MIT has nonetheless decided that these words are protected by fair
> use, despite these demands.
> That is rare in this business. Publishers are among the most
> conservative ³fair users² ‹ not because they don¹t believe in free
> speech, but because they understand the burden of non-free lawyers. If a
> lawsuit is filed against a publisher for copyright infringement, the
> cost of answering the complaint can suck up the total profit from the
> book. Thus, however generous the Supreme Court thinks it is when it
> defends ³fair use,² the relevant ³fair use² is the freedom publishers
> permit.
> It is a great thing that publishers like MIT can help set the
> standard. The law should make it easier for others to do the same.
> ----------------------------------------------------
> Rumori, the Discussion List
> to unsubscribe, send mail to
> with "unsubscribe rumori" in the message body.
> ----------------------------------------------------
> Rumori list archives & other information are at
> ----------------------------------------------------


Darren Wershler-Henry

We're gonna string you up
You got balls, but
We got the Web, we got a better bomb

-- Audioslave

Rumori, the Discussion List
to unsubscribe, send mail to
with "unsubscribe rumori" in the message body.
Rumori list archives & other information are at

Home | Detrivores | Rhizome | Archive | Projects | Contact | Help | Text Index

[an error occurred while processing this directive] N© Sharerights extended to all.