Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel January 26, 2017 - 2:50pm

Hello,

I'm in a Teaching Creative Writing course at UMass Boston as part of my MFA, and I would like to know the legal issues regarding using the material in the craft essay section as examples.

Is it simply a matter of citing the material, or is it hands off, don't disseminate? 

Just want to stay on the right side of the contributors. 

And, if I had to contact them to do so, how would one get a hold of Chuck and Craig and Jack to do so? If you know.

Thank you.

Very respectfully,

Jose F. Diaz

helpfulsnowman's picture
Community Manager
helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman January 27, 2017 - 2:49pm

Hmm, good question. Can you tell me just a little more about how they'd be used specifically? In what context? I'll have to ask some folks up above me, so the info will help me ask them the right questions.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal January 27, 2017 - 3:16pm

It seems that UMass Boston should have a legal dept that could advise on this?

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel January 28, 2017 - 5:34pm

I would like to use Chuck's craft essays primarily. I will not be handing any of his craft essays out, but I would be citing them frequently. 

For instance, Chuck Palahniuk writes a craft essay on establishing authority. In it he describes .... how to establish authority by doing X Y Z. He says "quote." Now, at the end of his essay, he provides an exercise that we will be doing for homework.

That's what I want to do. I just need to make sure it's kosher with the powers that be. And I can always refer the students to the site if they want to get the material from the horses mouth, per se.

Thank you in advance for finding out. I look forward to hearing back from you.

 

@Thuggish: Why create a legal battle if there doesn't need to be one. Ask kindly first, then escalate. Don't involve people just because they exist. 

helpfulsnowman's picture
Community Manager
helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman January 28, 2017 - 10:07pm

Alright, cool. Let me get with a couple people and find out the rock solid answer.

helpfulsnowman's picture
Community Manager
helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman February 1, 2017 - 6:47pm

Okay, can you email using the form? https://litreactor.com/about/contact

The team does these on a case-by-case, and they're pretty good about a turnaround. 

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel February 1, 2017 - 8:02pm

Wonderful. Thank you so much. Once I finish an exercise syllabus, and it uses any material, I will shoot it over to them.

Again, thank you.

helpfulsnowman's picture
Community Manager
helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman February 2, 2017 - 1:33am

Cool. And for the record, it's very upstanding of you to ask, and I know everyone involved appreciates that. 

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal February 2, 2017 - 11:39am

@jose

i'm not talking about creating a legal battle, where'd that idea come from? i'm talking about advice from those in the profession. you ask a lawyer if you can legally do something, and it's in his realm, usually he knows right off the bat either "yeah, you're totally fine" or "no, you can't do that." they sometimes call it consultation. 

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel February 3, 2017 - 6:33pm

Lawyers need a lot of context before they can provide information during a consultation. I would need to know what the site says about such matters, what my intentions are, what the school's policy is, what my professor thinks about the matter, and I'm sure more. And considering that my school is in Boston, which has a huge number of people from other countries, all of whom are currently wondering what the fuck is going on and how it affects them and their funding and legal status, perhaps doing the work myself is in everyone's interest. 

But I hear what you're saying. Thanks for chiming in.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal February 3, 2017 - 6:56pm

well, one thing the lawyers should know is what the school's policy is. still, i find legal professionals, at the very least, will tell you what you need to find out (in sometimes too much detail) if they don't know themselves. 

bethwenn's picture
bethwenn from Milwaukee is reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann February 4, 2017 - 10:03am

The lawyer thing seems unnecessary. You should be able to get the information you need from the site here with a quick email back from somebody. Verbal/written permission to teach the material would probably be enough. Most of the time you don't need permission. Fair use for educational purposes and all. If you're just citing the essays as a source in a limited capacity with a few students, you shouldn't need permission, just proper MLA/APA/Chicago formatting. I've not heard of published material that's legally off-limits for scholars to cite and discuss in a noncommercial setting. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/fair-use-rule-copyright-material... I think you'd need permission to recirculate the essays with your students, but not to cite them as long as you pay to be able to access the material. Not sure about having the students do exercises from the essays if the exercises are word-for-word the same.

Nathan Scalia's picture
Nathan Scalia from Kansas is reading so many things February 7, 2017 - 9:26am

Good Guy Jose's profile picture kinda reminds me of Good Guy Greg. It seems an accurate comparison. Good on you for asking first, Jose.

 

bethwenn's picture
bethwenn from Milwaukee is reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann February 8, 2017 - 7:48pm

Definitely. :)

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal February 8, 2017 - 8:02pm

freaky...

helpfulsnowman's picture
Community Manager
helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman February 11, 2017 - 2:28pm

Just so everyone's up to speed in case this comes up again, if you have an issue like this, just scroll down to the bottom of the page and click CONTACT LITREACTOR. That's how you can get hooked up with the people who can give the real answers.

In my day job I work with copyright quite a bit, so there are a few things I can tell you, in general, about copyright, just in case you wanted to know. But the quick summary is that asking first is far and away the best way to handle this stuff.

Fair Use is a great way to check whether or not you're likely in the clear. I say "likely" because Fair Use is a tool that can be used if you're defending yourself in court, but it's not a guarantee that frees you from the chance of being sued or whatever. And it's very subjective. I like this tool a lot: https://copyright.columbia.edu/content/dam/copyright/Precedent%20Docs/fairusechecklist.pdf 

I'll say that there are cases in which Fair Use still didn't help. Someone once printed a very small portion of Gerald Ford's autobiography in a magazine, and they lost a lawsuit from the book's publisher as the portion printed was about Ford's pardoning of Nixon and key to sales. There was also a case where a book parodied Gone With The Wind, and the writer of that book was sued because he did use a large portion of the GWTW material, but the defendant won that case.

These examples address two commonly-held misconceptions about copyright. One is that if you use only a certain percent of something, it's safe. This is not true. The other is that if you're not making a profit, you're safe. Also not true. You're safer, but not safe.

The instruction I've received by folks in the know is that intent matters a lot. If you were to be found guilty of violating copyright, but if you'd filled out a fair use checklist first, done so honestly, and found you were likely on the right side of the law, you may still find yourself in a bit of trouble, but when an individual does their due diligence, they are almost always given much lighter punishments and are likelier to get a cease and desist without having to pay damages, if they're guilty at all.

The surest, best bet is to simply ask first. Like Jose.

 

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel February 12, 2017 - 6:04pm

And if you're all wondering, that makes me a role model for the youth of the world.

smithreynolds's picture
smithreynolds from Spokane, WA USA is reading The writing on the wall. February 12, 2017 - 5:49pm

And they are lucky to have you.