Poet's Son Says No One Can Quote Father Without Paying Up… Even Academic Dissertations…

from the uh,-that's-not-how-it-works,-son dept

crcb alerts us to the bizarre situation where the son (and heir to the copyrights) of poet Louis Zukofsky isn’t just brandishing the copyrights against those trying to republish his works, but he seems to be demanding fees from anyone quoting his father or writing about him — even academic dissertations. It doesn’t appear as if Paul is doing this to protect a legacy or anything (if anything, it sounds like he’s not a fan of his father), but he does want cold hard cash:

“I hardly give a damn what is said about my father (I am far more protective of my mother) as long as the name is spelled properly, and the fees are paid.”

The full copyright notice is quite a doozy, where the son basically seems to think copyright law means he alone gets to determine what is acceptable and what is not — and, for the most part, his view is that he doesn’t want you ever quoting or discussing his father, but if you must, then he wants money. He also seems to think that fair use is as he defines it, rather than what the law actually says.

All Louis and Celia Zukofsky is still copyright, and will remain so for many many years. I own all of these copyrights, and they are my property, and I insist upon deriving income from that property. For those of you convinced that LZ would find my stance abhorrent, the truth is that he kept all copyrights (initially in his name) as he had the rather absurd idea that said copyrights would be sufficient to allow for the economic survival of my mother, and their son. My stance is congruent with that hope.

Despite what you may have been told, you may not use LZ’s words as you see fit, as if you owned them, while you hide behind the rubric of “fair use”. “Fair use” is a very-broadly defined doctrine, of which I take a very narrow interpretation, and I expect my views to be respected. We can therefore either more or less amicably work out the fees that I demand; you can remove all quotation; or we can turn the matter over to lawyers, this last solution being the worst of the three, but one which I will use if I need to enforce my rights.

Except that, no, fair use is somewhat broadly defined under the law, and just because Paul wants it narrowly defined, it does not follow that this is the case. As Paul’s father, Louis Zukofsky once wrote: “The best way to find out about poetry is to read the poems.” Apparently, Paul would like to make that a lot more difficult and a lot more expensive. And, yes, Paul, quoting that was fair use.

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Comments on “Poet's Son Says No One Can Quote Father Without Paying Up… Even Academic Dissertations…”

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60 Comments
Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Just got through with the full notice… it is worth a read if only for the sheer comedy of it. Paul sounds like a world-class bitter jerk, to be honest, and he also clearly has some family issues. Some choice quotes:

“I forbid so-called electronic “publication”. People may not quote LZ in their “blogs”.”

“I can perhaps understand your misguided interest in literature, music, art, etc. I would be suspicious of your interest in Louis Zukofsky, but might eventually accept it.”

“never never ever tell me that your work is to be valued by me because it promotes my father. Doing that will earn my life-long permanent enmity.”

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: I have to ask, Mike....

Have you or Techdirt EVER actually been sued for quoting the yahoos that think you can’t? Or do you think you’ve made a name for yourself, ‘Suing Techdirt is one can of worms we don’t want to open’.

Never been sued in nearly a dozen years of doing this. Have received probably two dozen threats of lawsuits though. I’d guess only a handful of those were “serious” threats (i.e., actually involving lawyers and official notice and such) and none followed through. Twice we’ve had to have lawyers on our own respond directly in order to convince them that it would not be wise to sue. That’s about it.

william (profile) says:

Re: Re: I have to ask, Mike....

to be honest, I would be quite interested in those incidents if they are okay to be published and you are willing.

It probably could be turn into an essay or a in-dept article.

“Techdirt vs copyright trolls: a study of invalid copyright claims and frivilous lawsuits”, in which you will find, let say, 10 case studies showing the most common invalid claims.

In fact, it might be a good educational/reference for other bloggers that might be facing simliar challenges…

what do you say? XD

www.eZee.se (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Getting to trouble...

Well, I like getting into this sort of trouble:

……. “Because he was crying
I like him most of all, ” says my son
“Because he was crying, ” -the red fox
With three porcupine quills in his paw –
Who brings tears to the eyes, button nose against shambles,
Valentines all day, all night, tomorrow
The simplest the keyboard can play,
“Pony gay, on your way, ” love’s hair
With two gray, Papa Bear’s Song new to renew
“Who’s been sitting in my chair? ”
-Louis Zukofsky

Guess I have a new life long enemy! 😀

senshikaze (profile) says:

Louis Zukofsky

So he doesn’t like seeing his father’s name, Louis Zukofsky, on the web?
*ahem*
Louis Zukofsky was a grand man.
Louis Zukofsky’s son was a jackass.
Louis Zukofsky didn’t know why.
Louis Zukofsky gave up qucikly
Louis Zukofsky changed his name to
Zukofsky Louis to confuse his prodigy.

thank you.

please, hold your applause, I owe all i am from the great Louis Zukofsky, who, by far, has the coolest last name i have seen in a while.

Luois Zukofsky.

Ah, I love fair use.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Yes, your fauther would be disapointed.

I was looking up his history hoping I had read something by him to quote, but I can’t find anything. But, while I was looking I found this in his list of works:

Bottom: On Shakespeare two volumes (Volume 2 is C. Zukofsky’s musical setting of Shakespeare’s Pericles) (1963)

Looks like he didn’t mind taking a page from history.

From what I have read, it seems like Louis Zukofsky was vary cautious about losing touch with his audience and had great respect for his father.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Yes, your fauther would be disapointed.

Yeah but if Shakespeare were alive today he would be considered a hack and quickly forgotten.

Because an artistic work that is derivative isn’t artistic at all. Like all those remixers and collagists. Copyright laws should be even stronger to ensure that hacks like Shakespeare are never allowed to share their art, sorry, drivel.

This was my impression of a copyright maximalist.

Terry Hart (profile) says:

What about the Wikipedia entry?

Wikipedia’s entry on Zukofsky has several examples of his poems, wonder if Paul is going to go after them next?

The full “copyright” policy really does have some gems:

“In general, as a matter of principle, and for your own well-being, I urge you to not work on Louis Zukofsky, and prefer that you do not.”

“I can perhaps understand your misguided interest in literature, music, art, etc. I would be suspicious of your interest in Louis Zukofsky, but might eventually accept it.”

I wonder exactly what he means by a “narrow” view of fair use? Seems to me it’s narrower than even the narrowest reading of the statute itself. Seems like he even hit this site – http://jacketmagazine.com/30/index.shtml – for use of quotations in several literary articles offering commentary and critiques of his father’s work.

Unfortunately, that example also shows the limits of fair use practice in the US. Paul can be as big a jerk as he wants and threaten anyone with a lawsuit, even if their use is clearly fair. A “free internet literary magazine” like above, or a struggling grad student, probably does not have the resources to defend such a cut-and-dry fair use in court; this limitation on copyright is only available as an affirmative defense after being sued (though the Jacket Magazine example may be one of those rare times someone might be able to succeed in bringing a DJ action for fair use.)

iamtheky (profile) says:

“is known for presiding over the removal of the Arnold Schoenberg’s archive from University of Southern California”

….is known for getting the entire collection taken back by the Schoenberg estate and moved to Vienna with gems like

“We need the Schoenbergs to relinquish all control over copyrights.”

***All your copyrights are belong to Paul***

(and if my dad made me watch a bunch of shakespeare in Yiddish I dont know how fond my memories would be).***

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Uh, really?

Okay, all joking aside…is this cock sandwich for real, or is this all some kind of awesome attempt at satire?

“Far too many people, especially perhaps-innocent grad. students, have been misled into thinking that, in terms of quoting LZ or CZ, they may do what they want, and do not have to worry about me.”

Well hey there, slick, let me assure you that we’re all just shivering in our collective booties here, you insufferable tool. You’re a fucking VIOLIN player, so how about leaving the WWE threatening talk at the door, kay?

“I own all of these copyrights, and they are my property, and I insist upon deriving income from that property.”

Insist away, Skeezics. And be sure to let us know how your futile attempt to limit the speech of others, particularly students, works out for you.

““Fair use” is a very-broadly defined doctrine, of which I take a very narrow interpretation, and I expect my views to be respected.”

Oh, now I see. You’re a megalomaniacal moron. You think that a broadly defined law will be applied the narrow view of one side of that law? Tell me, assclown, why do you think the law was written broadly in the first place? Could it be so that it could be interpreted broadly by several different parties in various situations?

“In general, as a matter of principle, and for your own well-being, I urge you to not work on Louis Zukofsky”

Ooooh, more threats. Seriously, why not just write, “Blah blah blah, I’m an ignorant fucktard, blah blah blah.”?

“Next, other than for the following, I am not trying to censor you.”

Bwahhh?

“If I ask for something, and you agree, be certain that you do it. If I find out after the fact that you have not, there will be trouble.”

…okay, I’m actually laughing out loud at this point….

“remind yourself again and again, and yet once more, what Lyndon Baines Johnson’s said about J. Edgar Hoover i.e.”

He looks good in a sequined dress?

transmaster (profile) says:

Re: Re: Uh, really?

Well until now I have never heard of this “poet” Zukofsky. His son reminds me of the ‘tard’s at The L Ron Hubble Zeno’s corporation for sponging money off of idiots. It is going to be funny the first time this butt munch gets laughed out of court. Best thing to do here is to have somebody seed his entire works on a bit torrent site just to see the son go ballistic.

Matt Henley (profile) says:

Paul's other activities

He doesn’t sound that pleasant at all:
From the the New York Times:

Ms. Rosen, who had supported Mr. Zukofsky on the U.S.C. search committee, said that once he got the job, he “antagonized everyone.” “He totally misread the city,” she said.

http://www.nytimes.com/1996/07/12/arts/schoenberg-archives-to-leave-usc.html?pagewanted=all

Luci says:

Right.

“Infinite is a meaningless word: except – it states / The mind is capable of performing / an endless process of addition.”
— Louis Zukofsky

Sounds like the son’s only interest is the infinite filling of his bank account.

Here’s a clue for you, Paul: I do NOT respect your views on Fair Use. Absolutely I do not. You do not make or interpret the law, and you can go ahead and send a lawyer on my ass for it if you really like to lose.

I actually suspect you are full of bluster and nothing more, since a casual search of the internet returns over 65,000 hits just on your father’s name. Going to go after all of them for saying “Louis Zukofsky”? Go for it, Mr Loser.

ZeZu says:

Like father like son.

The father a poet,
the son a pauper ..
To live off poetry unheard,
you wont afford the dollar menu at McD’s ;p

Normally one might be able to help you with aqcuiring a job, but with an attitude like that … you wouldn’t even be able to get a job at an outsourced tech. support hovel in a 3rd world country. Just being able to somewhat mutter english would normally automatically get you hired!!

Grow up.

Anonymous Coward says:

people who want to do their dissertation on LZ, or want to quote from him in their diss., must, if only as a common courtesy, inform me of their desire to use this material, and obtain my permission to do so. If you do that, and if I agree, the permission will be only for the purposes of the diss. and there will be no charge for limited use within the diss. You will not be allowed to distribute the diss. publicly. Distribution via on-line publication is not allowed. I urge you to keep quotation to a minimum, as the more quotation, the less likely I am to grant permission.

2– people who quote Louis Zukofsky in their dissertations without having had the courtesy to request my permission, and who do so without having obtained my permission to quote LZ, do not have permission to use LZ quotations, and will, in the future, be refused all permission to quote any and all LZ in their future publications, and I promise to do my utmost to hamper, hinder, and preferably prevent all such quotation.

Isn’t distribution the whole point of a dissertation? Scholars don’t usually lock up their work. You also have to make multiple hard copies of dissertations and distribute these to the appropriate libraries and archives.

3– people who obtain copies of LZ manuscripts, marginalia, etc. etc. such as at UTexas or elsewhere, and who have not first requested and received my permission to have such copies made, will thereafter be refused permission to use any such materials in any of their future publications. Note that fair use is far more restrictive on unpublished material than on already published material.

This guy is smoking crack. I hope someone stands up to him in court.

5– I forbid so-called electronic “publication”. People may not quote LZ in their “blogs”.

Huh?

I can perhaps understand your misguided interest in literature, music, art, etc. I would be suspicious of your interest in Louis Zukofsky, but might eventually accept it. I can applaud your desire to obtain a job, any job, although why in your chosen so-called profession is quite beyond me; but one line you may not cross i.e. never never ever tell me that your work is to be valued by me because it promotes my father. Doing that will earn my life-long permanent enmity. Your self-interest(s) I may understand, perhaps even agree with; but beyond that, in the words of e.e.cummings quoting Olaf: ?there is some s I will not eat?.

Next, other than for the following, I am not trying to censor you. I hardly give a damn what is said about my father (I am far more protective of my mother) as long as the name is spelled properly, and the fees are paid. My interest is almost purely economic. That being said, I do not approve of delving into the personal lives of my parents. If you wish to spend your time worrying if LZ did or did not shtupp alligators, that is your problem, but I will not approve quotation. That is not scholarship. That is gossip, and beneath contempt.

There’s only one p in shtup , you retarded schmuck.

Paul Alan Levy (profile) says:

Has Mike ever been sued....

In response to the comment:

Have you or Techdirt EVER actually been sued for quoting the yahoos that think you can’t? Or do you think you’ve made a name for yourself, ‘Suing Techdirt is one can of worms we don’t want to open’.

It is important not to underestimate the impact that threats like this can have. Sure, Techdirt has a bully pulpit, has access to free legal counsel, and Mike KNOWS both his rights and the availability of counsel. But many people who get this sort of letter don’t have any of the above, and they pay up rather than risking the financial impact of being sued.

There are firms that make their living just by sending out bogus threats of IP litigation, and taking a commission on the damages for which they shake down their marks.

So every once in a while, it is important to teach an object lesson. Being horsewhipped in a Techdirt post is one form of object lesson. Another is to be on the wrong end of a declaratory judgment action seeking a ruling of non-infringement. Maybe this is what Zukovsky-fils requires, I dunno.

Josef Anvil (profile) says:

nextgen greed

Ok maybe it’s me, but I don’t feel the slightest bit threatened.

Personally I don’t care one way or the other about this guy’s copyright. I suppose there are some people out there who do care about the work of his father and I think that he should be honored that his father’s works are remembered at all.

Call me crazy, but it seems like the inherent greed in the system is driving people to believe that all thought can be copyrighted.

(CR * TM * P)+ S = $$$ Copyright or Trademark or Patent then Sue and you will make millions. This seems to be the equation that describes what most people believe to be the best business model on the web at the moment when it comes to IP.

It will just get to the point where it becomes completely ridiculous and bogs down an already burdened court system and then it will effect a change.

JustMe (profile) says:

What a schmuck

While I respect his desire to ensure that his mother can earn a living from his father’s works, he clearly doesn’t understand the first thing about monetizing intellectual property. Instead of an uninformed rant that will turn people away from his father’s works he should have welcomed the poetry community and set up multiple ways to profit (book tours, poetry readings, micropayments, etc.).

Too bad, really.

tesla (profile) says:

I half wonder whether this isn’t a ploy to offend great scads of people enough that they will make a point of quoting Louis Zukofsky on their blogs, etc., thereby generating enough new interest in his work to cause actual sales of his actual books.

If only I could believe that – it would be a charming use of irony.

(Has Neil Gaiman blogged about it yet? He’s usually the tipping point.)

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