The DMCA and You

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The long arm of the law has reached out and grabbed Brad DeLong by the throat:

Well, this is new. My first ever DMCA takedown notice — from HarperCollins, publisher of Levitt and Dubner’s Superfreakonomics. While other publishers these days are happy to have sample chapters of their authors’ works read and distributed on the internet, not so with HarperCollins.

One thing I can do in response is — tit-for-tat — to remove my praise of and link to E.M. Halliday’s Understanding Thomas Jefferson: there are other better (albeit longer) Jefferson biographies published by firms that have not sent me DMCA notices: read them instead.

I urge everybody — authors and readers alike — to just say no to HarperCollins in the future.

Well, what does everyone think about this?  My first reaction is: fair use excerpts aside, authors and publishers all have the right to decide whether they want large chunks of their material available for free on the internet.  If HarperCollins decides against that, fine.  There’s really no reason to be upset about it.

My second thought, though, is that I’d be plenty pissed off if HarperCollins did this to me without first sending me an email asking me to take down the offending material.  Hauling out the lawyers and the DMCA artillery is really uncalled for unless someone refuses a polite request first.

But I don’t know if that’s what happened.  Did HarperCollins ask first and shoot later, or was it the other way around?

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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