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Re: Bill Mollison copyright statement
eric + michiko wrote:
> from Scott's post, Bill wrote:
> > It would be refreshing if people wanting to publish would create their own
> > material and did not plagiarise mine.
> I do have a problem with such strong protection of one's ideas (beyond
> death?), but I can also understand how Bill must feel when there are lots
> of people blatantly profiting from his labors.
I'm sure this is a factor in Bill's message.
> I also feel that it's hard
> to complain about a copyright on "permaculture" when we aren't coming up
> with equally brilliant and useful ideas.
Well, some people are.
My undestanding of the often confusing laws regarding copyright in Australia (and
perhaps other countries signatory to the Berne Convention on copyrighted materials -
the global agreement on copyright) is that ideas and names are not copyright (names
can be tradenarked) but it is the expression of the idea which is copyrightable.
> The idealistic part of me would
> like to see a free sharing of brilliant ideas from many sources, and I
> understand (grudgingly accept) the current situation for what it is.
The copyright laws serve to protect the interest of the creator of works, however, as
Bill says, works are often plagiarised and that frequently leaves a sour taste, as
anyone who has found an article they wrote appearing an a magazine with their name
removed. It's about the responsibility of achnowledging the source of material, a
basic journalistic ethic, not about simply 'owning' a work.
> Bill may also be concerned about the bastardization of Permaculture by poor
> teachers or others representing Bill's work with his name still attached.
> It does, however, bring up a tricky problem. When the term "Permaculture"
> and associated curriculum is copyrighted, what can be permaculture without
> being "Permaculture"? In other words, aren't new ideas and twists on old
> ones easily incorporated into "Permaculture"?
Substantially, however much of this material is not attributable to an individual but
is drawn from the world of ideas and, sometimes, traditional knowledge.
> And do they also, then,
> become protected? Is it possible to know which ideas are Bill's and which
> are someone else's? In a PDC this distinction is not made, and in fact the
> impression often given is that permaculture is a growing body of ideas.
> How different must a new curriculum be in order not to infringe on the
> copyright, and can that then still be labeled Permaculture?
My understanding is that permaculture teachers, by the simple fact of offering a
design course, have some obligation (I don't know the legal basis of this) to teach
the cirriculum set down by the Permaculture Institute Australia. That's what Bill
refers to as his course content. I ubndestand that you can add on whatever else fits,
but that there is soem obligation to teach the core stuff. A cirriculum is avaialable
from the Permaculture Institute Australia.
> If only Bill's
> ideas and curriculum can be Permaculture, then it becomes an obstacle to
> Pc's growth as an idea. Instead of growing into something new / different
> / better, Permaculture must stagnate (though perhaps useful details will
> "fill in" the overall framework) while others create new ideas with new
> names. This does not seem to be in the best interest of creating a more
> sustainable human culture on Earth.
> [Note: I do not question that some plagiarize, copying text verbatim or
> using illustrations. This shows a lack of creativity and honesty. Credit
> should be given where it is due. And a simple rewording or change of
> examples is not sufficient to avoid plagiarization, in my opinion.]
> This also seems to have some connection to the "problem" of the PDC and the
> way it is taught. I can't put my finger on the connection at the moment,
> but there is something about the protection of ideas, reluctance to change,
> and the "top down" way of teaching; competition vs cooperation? Perhaps
> someone else can elaborate.
In Australia, there are a wide variety of teachers employing an equally wide range of
teaching methods, from conventional chalk and talk lectures to participatory
techniques. That's good, I believe, because it caters for different learning styles
identified by educationalists.
> Perhaps if we were all better at acknowledging sources and/or coming up
> with new ideas we wouldn't need to worry about protecting ideas.
> Eric Storm
In addition to the above, the permaculture logo is copyright - the egg and serpent. I
was once told by the Permaculture Institute that community associations could reprint
and use the logo but that profit making and commercial operations had to pay for its
use. The going price then was a couple hundred Australian dollars.
I wonder if someone could comment on the copyright situation in the UK or the US and
if someone more knowledgable than I could say something authorative about the
Australian and New Zealand situation?
PACIFIC EDGE PERMACULTURE
Russ Grayson and Fiona Campbell
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