[KS] DB of Korean Classics

Charles Muller cmuller-lst at jj.em-net.ne.jp
Thu Jan 19 22:16:10 EST 2012

On 01/20/2012 06:59 AM, Frank Hoffmann wrote:

> *1.* Protecting old texts without copyrights (from being downloaded,
> possible being republished elsewhere), THAT was really NOT the issue
> in the earlier emails. The protection issue we had there was about a
> website that has done something with such texts ... right? These
> texts do not just march all by themselves from various libraries and
> private collections to some server's data base? Those texts are
> originally not electronically searchable. Those texts could
> originally not be copied as 'text' but just be viewed on paper. The
> institute had someone type the texts of all those documents, then,
> over years, produced translations into modern Korean language as
> well (at least of the documents I saw), then created various other
> helpful tools--e.g. texts by year search. All that is a lot of work,
> even for one single document.

It is extremely rare, nowadays, to see someone point this sort of 
thing out on a scholarly discussion list, and I applaud Frank for 
doing so. This is timely, as the SOPA debate rages on both the web 
and in printed media at the moment.

Based on my relatively long experience with Web publication, I have 
to say that I tend to lean in the direction of those who would like 
to enforce more stringent rules on Wikipedia, Google, YouTube, and 
so forth regarding their responsibility for their content. For the 
"end-users" (in this case "most scholars" the "99%") who simply want 
access to as much data as possible, and want that data here and now, 
without restrictions, it doesn't matter whose work is copied to what 
site and made available for free. And it doesn't matter to 
Wikipedia, Google, YouTube, and so forth where the data on their 
site comes from or to whom it originally belonged. Or, as Frank 
points out, who made the effort to collect, digitize, edit, and 
publish the data on the web.

Since the arrival of Wikipedia, I have had continuous problems with 
Wikipedia writers copying material from my online reference works 
without citation. And when I have written to Wikipedia about it, 
they treat me like an insect. They tell me:

(1) Under the third-party rule, Wikipedia has no legal 
responsibility for anything copied to its pages.


(2) It is up to me to track down the guilty parties and that I am 
obliged to enter into discussions with the editors of the Wikipedia 
pages in question (who are mostly anonymous) about the infraction.

But as a busy scholar, I certainly cannot take the time and energy 
to do this. And the government will not put pressure on them to take 
responsibility, so have no recourse but to surrender.

And then there is the matter of the PDFs of my books that are 
distributed all over the web before my publisher has sold ten copies 
of the book. And quite often, I find that such PDFs are being 
distributed by my own colleagues.

Well, many of my colleagues will tell me "too bad, that's the way it 
has to be with the new web."

But I say: It can't work in the long run. It's not sustainable. We 
can't say that people who make the effort to create written works, 
to edit them, produce them, and distribute them have no right to 
make money at it. If we do operate on based on such a principle, we 
will eventually put ourselves, our publishers, our editors, all out 
of work.

Returning to the web site issue. People are continuously trying to 
download my entire site. Not only do I dislike the idea that people 
think they have right to download my life's work in a minute; site 
downloading software often works imperfectly, going into endless 
looping sequences that fire several times a second, which end up 
preventing access by honest users. Thus, my Webmaster and I do our 
best to put mechanisms into place to block the usage of such 
programs, and to identify and blacklist those who run such programs.

It's still the Wild West, but it has to change. The current model is 




A. Charles Muller

University of Tokyo
Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology, Faculty of Letters
Center for Evolving Humanities
7-3-1 Hongō, Bunkyō-ku
Tokyo 113-8654, Japan

Office: 03-5841-3735

Web Site: Resources for East Asian Language and Thought


Mobile Phone: 090-9310-1787

Twitter @acmuller4

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