Pirated Text

Here’s some loot that I stole from that book I’ve been reading, lovingly screencapped from Google Books. The guy she quotes, Krause, represents the ideas about textual ownership that evaporated in 18th century Germany.

Screenshot from Woodmansee's bookSo let’s think about my thievery here for a second (if that’s what it is). When I read that passage, I thought, “Holy smokes, I need to type this passage out and put it online.” If I had done so, there would surely be no breach of law; any claim that Krause’s estate might have ever been able to make about his intellectual property claim for this text–which he clearly wouldn’t want to make anyway!–has long since expired. Though I didn’t check, I have no doubt that his quote is in the public domain.

But instead of typing it, I saved myself some trouble by copying the screen from the Google Books scan of two pages of Woodmansee’s copyrighted book and then pasting them together with Photoshop. And that means, perhaps, that I’ve stolen the trouble that was spent back in 1994 to find and choose and translate this passage of Krause’s, massage it into original text, lay it out on the page, and publish the book that Google scanned. Is a screen shot of an actual book scan considered differently by the law than text that was retyped? And concerning fair use, it’s good that I only used a teensy bit of Woodmansee’s book, but it’s kind of up in the air if I’m using this image for any remixed new sort of purpose, since I’m really praising it–but I’m also saying more than that, aren’t I? Does my Photoshopping (can you find the seams in the image?) count as artistic or rhetorical manipulation for a new purpose?


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