Book Reviews And The Blogger’s Responsibility: A Follow Up

Mark Grimsley referenced my post on the recent distribution of three Simon and Schuster books to the Civil War blogging community.  Mark didn’t offer any commentary which is disappointing because I am interested in his thoughts.  The blogosphere may be the the most attractive place for publishers to publicize their new titles.  Academic journals tend to take time to publish reviews and their readership is typically very small.  The blogosphere is fast and attracts the widest readership; best of all, the simplest of references will suffice to bring the title to the attention of thousands.  As I was perusing the latest issue of North and South magazine I noticed a large advertisement for Fred Ray’s new book on Confederate sharpshooters.  There were six endorsements of the book, including one by fellow CW blogger Drew Wagenhoffer.  This raised the question of whether publishers must first get permission to use a passage from a post for their advertisements.  I remember Drew’s review of the book and know from reading his blog that he was in contact with the author, and Ray’s book was privately published.  Why does this matter?  Well, if a publisher does not need permission then I am inclined to be much more defensive in my assessment of the book.  I’ve had my own published book reviews manipulated to the point where I don’t even recognize the statement as my own.  Imagine what could be done with a hastily written post? 

Now that I think about it, perhaps all that needs to be done is to copyright my blog.  Duh.

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4 comments… add one

  • Brian Downey Nov 5, 2006

    Your blog posts are already under US copyright protection by virtue of the fact that you created them. You don’t have to take any action to establish that right.

    Don’t forget about the concept of Fair Use, though…

    I recommend the US Copyright Basics here: http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html

  • David Woodbury Nov 5, 2006

    I agree that the blogosphere is an attractive new venue for publishers to get books reviewed, but I think the numbers of readers are still relatively miniscule — unless you’ve got some national recognition, like certain political bloggers.

    Brian’s right, though, about copyright. You needn’t go through any formal process — the stuff you publish on your blog is already protected by copyright laws.

  • Kevin Levin Nov 5, 2006

    Thanks for the legal references.

    David, — While the number of readers may be small, my guess is that it dwarfs the readership of many of the traditional publications (i.e., magazines and journals).

  • Drew W. Nov 6, 2006

    Ray did ask my permission and informed me how he planned arrange the quote.

    Like you, I’ve had my reviews twisted as well. You can piece together short phrases from a longer review with “…” to say just about anything you want!

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