"Roundheads and Ramblings"
I really need to spend this day editing and writing, so here's a quick (and happy) announcement to fill today's blank blog space.
(Links go to the Military Writers Society of America's Amazon store!)
Author: Carolyn P. Schriber
Publisher: Katzenhaus Books (2012)
Binding: Paperback, 188 pages
I've been asked (sometimes politely, sometimes not) to explain my objections to Pinterest. I've also been ridiculed by those who think that Pinterest is poised to become the next great Social Media Network. So roughly, here are my reasons, boiled down to a bullet list.
- Pinterest says that it requires every image to contain full information about its origins. That's true, insofar as every pin asks for a URL that takes the viewer to the source of the image. But unlike the "Description" box, which you must fill in, (although you can fill it with something as absurd as LOL) the URL box can be left blank entirely, and usually is. I found I couldn't find out who owned more than a handful of the images I had posted because I thought they were clever or pretty.
- The next part of that agreement you accepted says that since you "own" whatever you pin, you are now assigning all rights to the company that created Pinterest. The actual statement says that you grant to "Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, SELL, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services."
- Got that? By pinning an image, you give the company the right to sell that image. But what if you don't hold the rights to that image? Then you have infringed upon someone else's copyright, and there are strict laws against doing so.
- So what happens if you pin a copyrighted image, and Pinterest sells it? Well both you and Pinterest can be sued for damages by the lawful copyright holder. The site's terms and conditions, however, are designed to ensure the users take the blame - not the company itself. You acknowledge and agree that 'the entire risk… remains with you,’ says the site's legal documents. "You acknowledge sole responsibility for and assume all risk arising from your use of any such website or resource." Yep, if someone sues Pinterest, you are liable for all their costs as well as your own.
- The counter-argument is that having an image out there is "good publicity", and no one is going to sue you for making their work more visible. No? What about the websites that offer stock photos for a price, limiting their use to the person who makes the purchase? If you buy a photo, or re-pin an image that used to be for sale and then put it on Pinterest, you have effectively stolen it from the original photographer, who cannot make any further profit from that photo because you have made it available for free. Moreover, if you don't know the source of an image, you cannot assume that the creator is willing to have his intellectual property used without permission.
- I'm a big fan of the internet, but I also recognize that it moves too fast for most of us to keep up with all of its ramifications. Just because you CAN do something does not mean that it is RIGHT to do it. I'm afraid Pinterest is one of those ideas which seems so good--and is so much fun--that we have failed to see the moral and legal implications.
So there I stand. I am a creator myself, and I hold legal copyrights to my work. I would not tolerate people stealing my book and putting it on their websites just because they like it. Therefore, I will not do that to other creative individuals, whether their work is a piece of music, a photograph, a painting, a poem, a line drawing, or a clever sign.
U.S. Copyright laws serve a purpose--they are the only protection artist have for their intellectual property. Pinterest encourages its users to violate those laws. Simple as that. What part of illegal don't you understand?
Write your post here.
Maybe I'm just a little disappointed that all the basketball teams I usually root for have been eliminated in the first two rounds of March Madness. I can't even get excited about a team from Ohio this year, although that's my home state. When your state has four teams in the Sweet Sixteen, how do you choose? Or perhaps that question should be, "How do you lose?" for whatever the reason, basketball has not kept me glued to the TV this year. Perhaps that's why I've been noticing the changes in the weather.
The first day of Spring comes in March, and we have every
reason to hope the world will start turning green.
In Memphis, however, you can't count on that. Statistically, it is as likely to snow on
March 20th as on any day of winter.
Not this year, though! In terms of weather, it's been spring in Memphis for the whole month of March. Yesterday, while folks out west were complaining of snow, the thermometer mounted in the shade of our front porch showed 91 degrees.
Since the neighborhood did not turn not white from snow in March, the
Bradford pear trees have produced enough white blossoms to create their own
snowfall. At the same time, the wonderful old post oaks in the south grow long
fuzzy catkins in the spring, and they are capable of producing enough pollen
paint your car yellow if you are silly enough to park under one. Yesterday we walked out of an office building in early afternoon to find visible clouds of yellow pollen sweeping across the parking lot. Our shiny red car was orange.
dependable signs of spring are the migrations.
This morning when I went out to get the paper, a honking chorus from overhead announced that a gaggle of geese were heading to cooler climates, their wings flapping hard against the warm and windy conditions. Our little juncos and red-winged blackbirds have headed north, along
with those other snow-birds, the folks from along the U. S./Canada border, who
have been keeping warm in Florida all winter. You'll see them on the interstate,
chugging along in their overloaded motor homes.
Another migration path leads south in March – northern college students
on Spring Break. You'll want to avoid
them on the highways, too.
a vertical migration as well. Do you
want to know how close spring really is?
Check to see how far down in the dirt you have to dig to find an
earthworm. Their migrations may only
cover a distance of six inches or so, but when they start to stick their wormy
little heads up in your garden, spring is definitely here. Last Saturday morning, we spent some time working on a Lions Club project--planting some 450 redbud trees along the edges of the woods in a city park. We had help from a group of optometry students, for whom part of the fun of digging all those holes was counting how many worms they turned up.
Everywhere I look, March is "Madly" proclaiming that winter is over. So hang in there, all you folks in Idaho and northern California. Some of this glorious weather will be heading your way soon. Even if your favorite basketball team doesn't win.
“Writers of historical fiction must be careful to keep their
characters authentic.” What does that mean? Well, one method is to make sure
your characters talk as they would have in their own time, not yours. The
surest way to destroy a reader’s faith in your knowledge and writing ability is
to have your Roman emperor say, “Cool, man!”
I recognize that I’m pretty old-fashioned about names, even
in today’s first-name society. While I was teaching, I expected my students to
call me Dr. Schriber or Professor Schriber. Even the personable young man who
made a habit of popping into my office to say, “Hey, Doc!” made me cringe a
bit. No one ever addressed me as Carolyn, at least not more than once.
Several years ago, an amateur reviewer commented that my
first novel used stilted language; he pointed to the prevalent use of last
names among people who knew each other moderately well. My response was that in
the 19th century, people were much more conscious of social and
age-related conventions than we are today. The use of proper names was a matter of respect. Think
about what your French teacher tried to tell you about personal pronouns—vous for proper society; tu only in intimate relationships. The same
principle applies to names.
Here are some of the conventions I try to follow when
writing historical fiction set in the time of the Civil War.
In most English-speaking 19-century families,
first names were used only among those who had grown up together—classmates or
siblings. The requirement for first name
usage had two parts—similarity of age and closeness of relationship.
Children, of course, called their parents and grandparents
by their titles only: Mother, Father,
Grandmother, Grandfather. Parents and grandparents could use a child’s
first name. Other adults might refer to a child as Miss Betsy or Miss Ross,
depending upon how well they knew her.
For lateral relationships—i.e, family relationships outside
the immediate household—everyone used a title plus a first name: Cousin Betsy, Uncle Charles.
More importantly, first names carried such a suggestion of
intimacy that they were never used in mixed company or in front of strangers. A
husband might call his wife Nelly in
the bedroom, but outside of it, he would address her or refer to her as Mrs. Fairfield.
Similarly, women friends in a private visit might use Laura and Ellen but would revert to Miss
Towne and Miss Murray in front of
their colleagues or visitors. Male friends reacted the same way, but sometimes
addressed each other by last names only: Pierce,
Saxton. And certainly, a man would always address a woman as Miss Ware until they were actually engaged
In the Civil War South, conversations between whites and
blacks had their own conventions. House slaves used white first names but
always with the honorific Massa, or Missus, while whites addressed slaves by their
first names only: “Is dinner ready,
Rina?” “Yes’m, Missus Laura.”
Field slaves used their owner’s last name, as in Massa Pope.
Slaves did not have their own last names until the Civil
War, when they started adopting last names of their former owners or people
they admired. There were lots of
Lincolns right after the war. But when
they took a surname, they followed the same speech patterns as the whites used.
One of my favorite stories concerns the butler who, after emancipation was
announced, told one of the housemaids, “I
isn’t Joe no more. My name be Mister Johnson.”
Keep your characters' names straight, and your book will have authenticity.