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Re^6: Style guide for error messages?

by tilly (Archbishop)
on Sep 23, 2005 at 17:00 UTC ( #494601=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Re^5: Style guide for error messages?
in thread Style guide for error messages?

I was going to go through all 256 and state briefly what I thought of each one. In many cases, of course, I would heartily agree. There were some trivial errors that I wanted to point out. And there were some that I disagreed with. I thought it would be interesting to be able to give a concrete illustration of what Damian was talking about in the introduction.

But, given that the point of the book is the set of 256 best practices that Damian put quite a bit of thought into, quoting all of them seems to me to be a little more than fair use would allow. You might disagree, but TheDamian and Allison Randal both thought that reasonable, and both said that I needed to ask for permission because O'Reilly is the copyright holder.

The permission that I got from O'Reilly was to be allowed to quote 20 publically. Which suggests that the copyright holder, as well, would consider 256 to be copyright infringement, and would definitely be unhappy about it.

Before I got that permission Allison had suggested that I write the article I wanted to write, and send that to Because with a concrete idea of what I would write, it would be easier for them to decide to say, "Yes." I'm still debating doing that, but it is harder to get motivated now that I know that there is a good chance that I'll get a "no" in the end.

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Re^7: Style guide for error messages?
by xdg (Monsignor) on Sep 23, 2005 at 21:06 UTC

    Of course, if you ask for permission, they're going to say no. The whole point of fair use is to allow you to do it anyway. Write back and make an argument that it's covered under fair use as a critique and for non-profit, educational purposes and that they might as well just agree.

    It's also worth remembering that they can only copyright words, not ideas. If you're really worried, you can comment on all 256 as long as you express Damian's ideas in your own words -- that's a slight loss of fidelity, of course.

    They may not like it, but while their lawyers may bluster, it's hard to imagine that they would think they could win in court.


    Code written by xdg and posted on PerlMonks is public domain. It is provided as is with no warranties, express or implied, of any kind. Posted code may not have been tested. Use of posted code is at your own risk.

      I don't think that you're a lawyer. Furthermore I suspect that I have more experience than you do when it comes to legal copyright issues. Therefore to take your advice over my best judgement (particularly when there is a real question) would be sheer stupidity on my part.

      Perhaps this is a case of once bitten, twice shy, but I'm not planning to push it.

      Incidentally if I take a copyrighted work, and then proceed to rewrite it in my own word while making the result close to a copy of the original, then my work is a derivative of the original and I can still be in violation of copyright. Therefore if quoting all 256 recommendations is a violation of copyright, then paraphrasing all of them can be as well.

      A final note. O'Reilly is populated with pretty decent people. This is hardly a case of abuse on their part. They know, and I know, that a lot of people are going to buy the book just for the recommendations. I can fully understand their not wanting me to circulate that full list, and I'm not about to start a fight about it. I personally would hope that my article would encourage more people to buy the book. But that isn't my judgement call to make, it is theirs.

        That's too bad, as I think the community misses out. I still hope you'd consider writing your article on the 20 they will allow. (E.g. pick 20 of the 3x10 "essential" practices in the appendix.)


        Code written by xdg and posted on PerlMonks is public domain. It is provided as is with no warranties, express or implied, of any kind. Posted code may not have been tested. Use of posted code is at your own risk.

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