Did Scott Turow Keep The Copyright On His NY Times Op-Ed About The Importance Of Copyright?

from the questions,-questions dept

We were among many different commentators who mocked the recent op-ed in the NY Times by Authors Guild boss (and best selling novelist) Scott Turow, in which he seemed to suggest that to incentivize the next Shakespeare, the world needs much stronger copyright laws. The day after that op-ed was published, Turow was at the Senate speaking out in favor of censorship in the form of the COICA law. This is somewhat startling, and if you're a member of the Authors Guild, you should be asking serious questions about an organization that supports censorship.

While many people pointed out the hilarious irony of Turow and his colleagues using Shakespeare as an example for stronger copyright laws -- since the Bard lived in an era without any copyright laws, and was famous for directly copying the works of many others -- some others noted a separate bit of irony. In taking to the pages of the NY Times to insist on the importance of copyright for authors, or warning that authors may not have incentives to write any more, some pointed out that the standard NY Times Op-Ed agreement involves handing over your copyright on the Op-Ed to the NY Times to do whatever it wants with it.

And, yet, this still seemed worth it to Mr. Turow. In other words, despite his explicit words talking up the importance of copyright as the key motivator for content creation, his implicit actions suggest he knows quite well that there are many, many other incentives to create, and many people -- including himself -- are willing to create even when they do not retain the copyright on their works. As the author of the above linked article, Wendy Kaminer, notes at the end of her piece:
When editors at the Times publish an op-ed stressing the cultural value of copyright protections, it's probably not your copyrights they have in mind.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  •  
    identicon
    -, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 1:57am

    No, he didn't give up on copyright, he sold it. So it still gave him benefits and may have been an incentive to write.

     

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      identicon
      Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 2:19am

      Re: No, he didn't give up on copyright, he sold it. So it still gave him benefits and may have been an incentive to write.

      So what was Shakespeare’s incentive to write?

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 3:01am

        Re: Re: No, he didn't give up on copyright, he sold it. So it still gave him benefits and may have been an incentive to write.

        Spoken like someone that's never created anything.

        iow, all the kool-aid slurpers on this site.

         

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        •  
          icon
          The eejit (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 3:21am

          Re: Re: Re: No, he didn't give up on copyright, he sold it. So it still gave him benefits and may have been an incentive to write.

          Hey, I've written full novels before, and I don't care.

           

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        •  
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          Chris in Utah (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 3:52am

          Re: Re: Re: No, he didn't give up on copyright, he sold it. So it still gave him benefits and may have been an incentive to write.

          http://forum.ragezone.com/f10/10-easy-steps-create-enemy-61268/

          Cant wait for #6... oh wait. Check on #7 as well. #8 The diety is TD.... #9 duty bound are ya?

          So that leaves #10 Ah yes... ya touched on that one too... not creating is somehow something to be feared.


          @- & Lawrence Nice question though I think the wrong one & "may have" isn't it either. Occums razor & human nature: Do you really need an incentive to create?

           

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          •  
            identicon
            Not an electronic Rodent, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 6:51am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: No, he didn't give up on copyright, he sold it. So it still gave him benefits and may have been an incentive to write.

            http://forum.ragezone.com/f10/10-easy-steps-create-enemy-61268/
            Never thought of it quite that way but those steps you could equally equate in hindsight to many things in the US recently: Website takedowns, bp oil spill, airport security, internet privacy, "cyber attacks". In each case just pick your deity (usually money but possibly "the environment" in at least one case) and off you go. Same for the UK ("Obscene" publications, speeding and others) and probably most other governments and/or major corporations (is there a difference any more?)

             

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 6:57am

          Re: Re: Re: No, he didn't give up on copyright, he sold it. So it still gave him benefits and may have been an incentive to write.

          Well, you didn't answer the question. Maybe your head is too far up your ass to be able to read?

           

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        •  
          identicon
          Not an electronic Rodent, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 7:45am

          Re: Re: Re: No, he didn't give up on copyright, he sold it. So it still gave him benefits and may have been an incentive to write.

          Spoken like someone that's never created anything.
          Well I've created many things. It's a large part of my job.

          So what was Shakespeare’s incentive to write?

          Did that sound different that time? Different enough to answer?

           

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      •  
        identicon
        -, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 3:12am

        Re: Re: No, he didn't give up on copyright, he sold it. So it still gave him benefits and may have been an incentive to write.

        So what was Shakespeare’s incentive to write?

        Money? Fame? It gave him both, though not in great amounts. Or maybe he just liked writing.

         

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        •  
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          cc (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 4:21am

          Re: Re: Re: No, he didn't give up on copyright, he sold it. So it still gave him benefits and may have been an incentive to write.

          So, I'm confused. He didn't have copyright, yet he made money? Lots of it, in fact? Impossible!

          Better step up your game.

           

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          •  
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 4:52am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: No, he didn't give up on copyright, he sold it. So it still gave him benefits and may have been an incentive to write.

            You've mistaken me for a copyright maximalist. I'm the opposite. But I think that the Mike's post simply makes no sense.

             

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            •  
              identicon
              -, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 4:56am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: No, he didn't give up on copyright, he sold it. So it still gave him benefits and may have been an incentive to write.

              You've mistaken me for a copyright maximalist. I'm the opposite. But I think that the Mike's post simply makes no sense.

              Sorry, I confused 2 things in the above post. Please ignore (or delete) it.

               

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          •  
            identicon
            -, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 5:00am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: No, he didn't give up on copyright, he sold it. So it still gave him benefits and may have been an incentive to write.

            Well, I don't understand your post. And I don't play any game.

             

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      •  
        identicon
        Bob, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 3:34pm

        Re: Re: No, he didn't give up on copyright, he sold it. So it still gave him benefits and may have been an incentive to write.

        Money. They paid at the door to the theater and he took his cut.

         

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 1:58am

    Creator's choice.

    This is a concept lost on Mike Masnick.

    Because he's never created anything original.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 4:15am

      Re:

      This is getting old.

      Do you have anything useful to add? Anything at all? Anything that might make someone go like "uhm, that was interesting"?

      And don't come with "the kool-aid drinkers of this site will just put me down because they are a bunch of freetards" speech. Because, if this is a truly one-sided, terribly biased website you seem to believe it is, I really really don't understand why you keep coming back.

      I don't want you to stop posting. I just want the baseless attacks to stop.

       

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    •  
      icon
      Richard (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 4:35am

      Re:

      Creator's choice.

      This is a concept lost on Mike Masnick.

      Because he's never created anything original.


      Ah the old fallacy that "you have to be a rabbit to understand rabbits".

      Actually -to understand something properly then being to deeply involved in it is the last thing you want. It is perfectly reasonable - in fact preferable - to understand things from the outside.

      The fact that you don't understand this point suggests that you have never understood any subject properly.

      (Note that my logic although superficially similar to yours - is in fact quite different and (unlike yours) valid.)

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Jose_X, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 4:48am

      Re:

      >> Creator's choice.

      Do you mean to publish or not to publish? ..to share your thoughts or not to share them?

      >> This is a concept lost on Mike Masnick.

      This website is proof he has decided to publish his commentary and analysis.

      >> Because he's never created anything original.

      That's because Mike is not a human being. The Mike is an obelisk that is progressively teaching Anonymous monkeys how to beat the Turing test.

       

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      •  
        icon
        cc (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 4:59am

        Re: Re:

        LOL! Is that a Space Odyssey 2001 reference which I see before me?

         

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      •  
        identicon
        Jose_X, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 6:29am

        Re: Re:

        >> That's because Mike is not a human being. The Mike is an obelisk that is progressively teaching Anonymous monkeys how to beat the Turing test.

        We are all familiar with the Library of Babel?

        See, Mike is a by-product of Anonymous monkeys.
        He's A Long serial bit stream touring complete round the world
        Able to raise Cain among primates who can't comprehend
        Though a program, he's teacher of the Turing test unfurled.

        HAL? ..I know. It is a pity I come here to babel.

         

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 6:33am

        Re: Re:


        This website is proof he has decided to publish his commentary and analysis.


        Yeah but no one's interested in that enough to rip it off.

         

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        •  
          identicon
          Not an electronic Rodent, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 7:43am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Yeah but no one's interested in that enough to rip it off.
          Perhaps not but you for example seem interested enough in it to spend a portion of your day reading it all and spitting bile all over it. My time's quite valuable to me though of course I can't speak for yours.

           

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        •  
          icon
          Gwiz (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 8:23am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Yeah but no one's interested in that enough to rip it off.

          Why would someone rip off something that's free to begin with?

          As for the "no one's interested" part - anytime I do a Google search on keywords like copyright or patents this site seems to always be in the Top 10, so it seems that quite a few are interested, despite you wishing otherwise.

           

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        •  
          icon
          Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 8:29am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Haha, nice one. There are about a dozen sites out there that directly rip every single techdirt story and republish it as their own.

           

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          •  
            identicon
            TDR, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 9:46am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            And none of them do nearly as well as the original, I'll wager. As people here should know by know, Mike doesn't mind that sort of thing. It just drives people back here to the source when they see the copycats for what they are.

             

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          •  
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 6:07am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Oh Jesus H.... he knows this. He's baiting you to keep you sidetracked ffs.

            Get a grip ppl and stop falling for the damn obvious. His comments are complete bollocks and take 1 post with 1 line to dismiss to anyone intelligent.

             

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 1:32pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          A brief Google will show that Mike's articles have been reposted numerous times, sometimes with proper credit, many times without.

          So yes, Mike has been "ripped off" many times.

          Next baseless assertion.

           

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    •  
      icon
      indieThing (profile), Feb 25th, 2011 @ 3:49am

      Re:

      Excepth this blog ;) Seen by millions. Copied by quite a few as far as I can tell as well.

       

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  •  
    icon
    Chris in Utah (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 4:30am

    Logical error

    I kept thinking about this one and it started really bugging me.

    A. The mother of all invention is NOT incentive.
    B. Did history and technology switch Whats In It For Me from What Do I Need?

    I suddenly smell the acrid of matches about to light my feet. So question, is the point here to find incentives or meet our needs? P.S. Happiness is a need.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Jose_X, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 4:52am

      Re: Logical error

      >> So question, is the point here to find incentives or meet our needs?

      Meeting our needs is an incentive like any other, but meeting our needs comes with a free bonus: it gives you a clue to the solution.

       

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  •  
    icon
    Chris in Utah (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 4:31am

    Logical error

    I kept thinking about this one and it started really bugging me.

    A. The mother of all invention is NOT incentive.
    B. Did history and technology switch Whats In It For Me from What Do I Need?

    I suddenly smell the acrid of matches about to light my feet. So question, is the point here to find incentives or meet our needs? P.S. Happiness is a need.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    abc gum, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 5:03am

    COICA another pig at the trough asking for preferential treatment. Funny how these same people talk of free markets and how government subsidy needs to be eliminated and they want us to ignore the man behind the curtain.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 5:26am

    But what about his great-grandkids?

    He went and *sold* the copyright? How are his descendents 5 times removed from today going to make a continued living from this invaluable piece of work? Oh, wait, I forgot, that's music.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Mike, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 5:36am

    Mike Masnick supports copyright

    Doesn't he? Or does he support terrorist, child porn, spammers, and hacker "right to freedom of speech" through their crimes as well?

    Cries of "CENSORSHIP!!!!" are a red herring. If you want to imply censorship is inherently bad, please be willing to go all the way.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Mike, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 5:37am

      Mike Masnick supports CENSORSHIP

      lol. That subject was meant to read "Mike Masnick supports CENSORSHIP".

      It's early morning...

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 5:39am

    What's wrong with selling your copyright to a publisher?

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 5:56am

      Re:

      Question(s):

      Isn't copyright supposed to be an incentive for the creation of art? Therefore, if the copyright holder sells his copyright, isn't he basically "giving up" on art (or that particular artistic expression)? Because he basically just gave away his "motivation".

      Also, does the buyer, who now holds copyright over a specific artistic expression, have any motivation for creating more art? If no, then, wouldn't the model of "selling copyright" eventually extinguish every form of artistic expression?

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 6:00am

        Re: Re:

        Isn't copyright supposed to be an incentive for the creation of art? Therefore, if the copyright holder sells his copyright, isn't he basically "giving up" on art (or that particular artistic expression)? Because he basically just gave away his "motivation".


        Copyright allows people to make an income by selling their work. Selling your work to a publisher is nothing new. And you do need copyright to do it, or any publisher can run your story for free and it becomes much more unsellable for the writer.

         

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 6:11am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Copyright allows people to make an income by selling their work."

          Right, but you don't give away your rights in that case. What I was wondering was what happens to the artists supposed incentive when he just sells away what is, supposedly, his motivation to create more art?

          "And you do need copyright to do it, or any publisher can run your story for free and it becomes much more unsellable for the writer."

          Why do I need copyright? I've seen many many cases of artists who make a decent living while giving away their art. They are just smart enough to understand how to make a profit from item that are somehow related to their art or to themselves. In the software world, that is an easy one: sell services. You can just give the software for free.

          I think that artists could find similar methods of making money out of their art, without needing a special law that virtually guarantees them profit.

           

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          •  
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 6:35am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            what happens to the artists supposed incentive when he just sells away what is, supposedly, his motivation to create more art?


            When he creates more art, he gets copyright for that as well and has the choice to sell it, keep it, and/or market it as desired.

             

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 7:21am

    since the Bard lived in an era without any copyright laws

    If you read the comments after David Post's article, it is mentioned that in fact there were STRONGER copyright laws in Shakespeare's time: http://volokh.com/2011/02/17/there-should-be-a-name-for-this-one-too/

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 7:48am

    What I am still trying to figure out is how Mike manages to divine someone's intentions by their implicit actions only.

    He is like a magic blog man thing.

    The rest of us would get reamed in comments for something like that, the rest of you are climbing up Mike's butt and enjoying the smell.

    Perhaps this post is a parody, and or Mike is trying out new material for his stand up routine.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 7:58am

      Re:

      This article really is a stretch. I picture Mike just sitting there on his computer, searching the internet for anything, ANYTHING, that can possibly be stretched to point out how dumb he thinks copyright is. It's kind of funny when you picture it. Some of these articles are really, really desperate sounding.

      This article is just silly because of course Turow knows that there are other reasons people write. It's also silly because an op-ed piece is hardly the next War and Peace.

       

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        icon
        Gwiz (profile), Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 8:12am

        Re: Re:

        It's also silly because an op-ed piece is hardly the next War and Peace.

        And Justin Beiber's latest single is hardly the next 1812 Overture......and.....wait.....what was your point again?

         

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 11:22am

    The assignability/transferability of copyright is an additional incentive to create. Someone who takes advantage of that is not somehow showing that copyright is not important.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 6:23am

      Re:

      Additional incentive to create? But... but... copyright is the ONLY incentive. Did you not read a word Scott Turow said??!!!!

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 11:34am

        Re: Re:

        Did you miss the part where I was talking about copyright?

        Look, anyone who says copyright is the only incentive to create is wrong.

        Anyone who says the assignment of a copyright shows that copyright is *not* an incentive to create is just as wrong.

         

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  •  
    identicon
    Bob, Feb 23rd, 2011 @ 3:38pm

    Shakespeare is not the same at a torrent-loving couch potato

    Shakespeare may have borrowed the plot lines but he wrote his own words. Really. In fact, it's common for people to borrow plotlines today even in the face of copyright. If Shakespeare were writing today, I don't think that copyright would have prevented him from borrowing some of the plots that he did.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 6:25am

      Re: Shakespeare is not the same at a torrent-loving couch potato

      He'd end up in court quicker than you could say "mine all mine".

      That is a fact.

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 11:38am

        Re: Re: Shakespeare is not the same at a torrent-loving couch potato

        That is not a fact. That is a hypothetical prediction.

        Sorry. Sometimes I like to pick nits.

         

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