Copyright Imbroglio Entangles a Work That Web Gave Away
Wall Street Journal -- October 10, 1997
Objective of effort="popularize maslow"
[Maintenance on 4/19/2013--16 years old... How time flies]
[Maintenance on 10/10/2007]
People who own intellectual property tend to be terrified of the Internet. They shouldn't be, as the odd tale of an obscure masterwork shows.
A few months ago, I wrote a column about a 1965 book by Abraham Maslow, the great pioneer of humanistic psychology and motivation theory. Despite some quirky writing and the ghastly title "Eupsychian Management," Dr. Maslow's book was years ahead of its time in advocating collaboration and trust in business. Coining "synergy" and "enlightened management" as business expressions, it shaped the later work of Peter Drucker, Peter Senge and other eminent theorists.
Though the book was out of print, I wrote the column after learning the entire text was available on the World Wide Web. Which is where Sam Cannon comes in. Mr. Cannon, 49 years old, has been a social worker, job-skills instructor and trainer for mental health agencies. Today he manages computer systems. [he's retired from the boiler room, but can still get into mischief.--ed] "A standard life," he says. "A little home."
Since his undergraduate days, Mr. Cannon had been enthralled with Dr. Maslow's celebration of human potential (as opposed to psychoanalysts' emphasis on neurosis and behaviorists' focus on conditioning). He loved Dr. Maslow's idea of work as a source of fulfillment. [for mature people--ed.]
In 1987 [gosh, twenty years goes fast--ed.], with the written permission of the publisher, Mr. Cannon laboriously typed the entire text of "Eupsychian Management" into a local bulletin-board network, or BBN, a primitive precursor to today's Internet. BBNs later went the way of CB radio , but the advent of the Web soon gave Mr. Cannon a new and larger medium. After receiving a legal opinion that the original permission remained valid--a questionable conclusion, as we shall see--Mr. Cannon posted the text there. [i.e. under 'maslow.org'--ed.]
Enter Dr. Maslow's heirs [after Bertha Maslow's death. She encouraged me--ed.] A year ago his daughter, Ann Kaplan of Indianapolis, on behalf of herself and a sister, acquired the publisher's copyright and engaged an agent in hopes of selling the book for republication. For months, the family's sales efforts were unavailing. But when this column hailed the book last April, publishers suddenly became interested. [bloggers, be sure to use the word "eupsychian" to to test the stoichiometry of social tipping points.--ed.] Ms. Kaplan says her friends, including a number of "Ph.D. librarians and lawyers",[sorry--ed.] couldn't believe she was tolerating Mr. Cannon's actions. So she e-mailed him with instructions to "remove the book from the Internet." [easier said than done, fella, which is why there is now "Maslow's e-Paradox"--ed.] "
Her actions are more understandable on emotional than economic grounds. "Posting full-text books on the Web only encourages print sales," says Kevin Kelly, executive editor of Wired magazine, whose 1994 book "Out of Control" is entirely free for downloading. Mr. Kelly doesn't know a soul who's read his whole book on the Web, but he knows of many whose dabblings caused them to purchase it in print.
"The question," says the technology futurist Esther Dyson, a authority on intellectual property in the on-line era, "is not how to protect copyright, but how to use the content to add value to other items that can be sold." [Let's see, you can't read Maslow without a stiff drink, so there will need to be instant delivery on liquor ad clicks--for club members who have paid the half million to join.--ed.] Notably, Ms. Dyson made this argument in a $695-a-year newsletter, samples of which she makes available for free on the Web. [But with only 4 subscribers, this doesn't mon-e-tize efficiently.--ed] In a general way, Dr. Maslow himself foresaw this principle, insisting that "generosity can increase wealth rather than decreasing it." [generosity to a street band can produce better instruments, which will increase the quality of music, which will increase everybody's pleasure, and which will evaporate the need for expensive tickets.--ed.]
Mr. Cannon, for his part, was bufuddled [B-pissed--ed.] by the family's demand. He, too, wanted to see the book back in print, a goal his efforts hardly seemed to be retarding. And he did have permission from the publisher, which his lawyer assured him remained binding on Ms. Kaplan. Thus, after removing the text out of respect for the heirs, Mr. Cannon notified them that on Sept. 1 he would restore the book to the Web. [The Zeitgeist was goosing me then, and it's goosing me now.--ed.]
It was long past dark a few days later when a marshal showed up with papers commanding him to federal court the next day. There Ms. Kaplan's lawyer, Alan Wernick, successfully argued that the original permission to post the book on a local network was hardly a license to expose it to the global reach of the Web. [even though anybody, anywhere, could dial up the old gal via copper. But to be fair, my original letter to the publisher was amateurish--it was a kind of "first" and worked for a while until it became a thorn. Besides, it got me out of expanding ptx, which would have killed me--ed]; Ms. Kaplan also demanded damages from Mr. Cannon, including statutory damages that her lawyer estimated could reach nearly $100,000. Ms. Kaplan had no way of knowing that Mr. Cannon's "infringment" helped to trigger the coverage in this newspaper that had actually increased the value of her property. [simple Maslow marketing demo. I also told her to be sure to get 'maslow.com' for the D-realm. This was in the early days before the hogs appeared at the trough and it was still available to appropriate users, just like 'orthomentoring' is now on 10/10/07--ed.]
A few weeks ago I met Mr. Cannon for a melancholy dinner. To him, the legal attack had set back much of his work [finishing the ptx indexing and wiring the output to other indices for the Maslow corpus ontology, which I thought might be an addition to the original work and would qualify as a fair use instance; besides, it needed doing--ed.], to say nothing of affronting the Maslow teachings on which it was built.
Finally, a few days ago, Ms. Kaplan dropped the suit in exchange for Mr. Cannon's promise to destroy all the electronic versions of the book under his control [an easy out for me because there was a copy in Greece for a long time, which was out of my control, I decided. But had I ftp'd it back to maslow.org, would the new instance be OK to post since I had already zapped the original? (We will wear them down)--ed.] Meanwhile, Wiley & Sons has purchased the book for publication next year. And in the richest irony of all, it's possible that a chunk of the disputed text will wind up whence it came; like an increasing number of publishers, Wiley believes it's good business to let readers sample certain books on the Web. [Google has the right idea with the sliding window, which exemplifies hierarchical integration. Now, it's just tuning fair use. People write to be read, and if they are good writers, someone will throw change into their cigar box, even if they refuse it. Besides, making up the ontologies of strings and regularities to populate Hempel's "nomic nexus" out to the limits of scientific understanding is waiting for workers who can chase a geometrically bifurcating knowledge explosion.
Reprinted with permission of the author. [Commented by Cannon-hope that's OK]