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MMD > Archives > May 1998 > 1998.05.21 > 09Prev  Next

Freedom for MMD Information
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  I saw Gerry Bay's posting and Robbie's comment about
plagiarism and it brought back an unpleasant memory of a conference
phone call I received from Jody and Robbie when I used an article from
the MMD as part of a web page.  My personal feeling is that using
someone else's work verbatim for purely educational and/or entertainment
purposes is one of the highest forms of flattery, especially if the
author and the publication are given full credit for the work.  My
reasoning is simple; the work was created for the enlightenment and/or
enjoyment of many people and I believe in shedding light where there
is darkness.

However, it is the right of the any publisher to establish rules
governing the usage of their publication and the MMD makes it very
clear that they do not allow articles to be used without the express
permission of the author and the editor/s.

This stance is a double-edged sword in that while serving to protect
the MMD and the author from problems that might arise from unauthorized
or incorrect usage, it can also slow or bring to a complete halt the
timely dissemination of useful information.

Case in point:

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a request for information about
eliminating musty odors from pianos and I stated that after all the
information was collected, I would create a web page.  I correctly
included in my posting that I would request the permission of the
authors and the MMD prior to posting the page.  After compiling the
information and creating the page, I contacted all the authors and the
editors for their approval.  In that letter, I stated that due to the
lack of a consensus regarding 'the best method', I would include all of
the responses exactly as they appeared in the digest.  To date, I have
received replies from two of the seven people I contacted.

Ergo, the page sits in my computer and helps no one.  I suppose I could
keep pestering those who have not responded but it's obvious by their
lack of response that they are either indifferent, don't read their
mail or do not wish to have their work re-published.  That's their

This situation is not only a waste of my time, it also robs the public
of information that could prove very useful.  And as a final solution
to the lack of responses from the authors, I will eventually glean from
their work that information which I find helpful and write the page
myself.  I will also take full and complete credit for the work even
though the ideas are not my own.  That's my right.

Furthermore, having done a little homework on the subject of stealing
someone else's writing/ideas from the Internet, I found that the legal
community and the government are quite split on the issue.  The
dividing line seems to be drawn where there is money involved.
However, I was not able to locate a single case wherein the plagiarist
was successfully prosecuted.

My point is that I think it's time for the MMD to reconsider their
'hands-off' policy in favor of a more realistic 'disclaimer' which
would protect them from possible lawsuits while allowing for the free
flow of useful information.

Just my Opinion,

John A. Tuttle (
Brick, NJ (

 [ Let's hear from our readers and authors.  -- Robbie

Key Words in Subject:  Freedom, Information, MMD

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