Member Rara Avis
I wish I had a bit more spare time to properly address this issue, but will have to settle for merely touching upon a few points. Points, I feel, are important ones.
Posting Stephen King's latest novel on the Internet would be a great way to share the author's message and could possibly make a few people feel better (or worse, depending on how scary the novel is). But I can pretty much guarantee you King (and his lawyers) would be something less than appreciative. It's perfectly acceptable to quote a paragraph or two of the novel in your signature (it's called "fair use" doctrine), but not acceptable to publish large portions of the book without the author's approval.
Should a poet be treated any differently than a novelist? Certainly, the work of the poet is often much shorter, making the Net publication easier, but a poem is as much a work in its "entirety" as is the novel. Is it only a "little" infringement because the work is short? And in many, many cases I think the poet put in more work and a LOT more heart and soul than I've ever seen in King's work. Using a few lines of a poem for a signature is acceptable ("fair use"), but publishing the entire poem is not. Any more than it's right to publish an entire novel.
But, let's set aside legality for a moment. Rod McKuen probably didn't make as much money on "Listen to the Warm" as King did on "Misery." You might even convince me McKuen didn't put in as much effort. And while I have absolutely no doubt we would hear from a few lawyers were we to publish King here, I would like to think McKuen would look around at the caliber of people posting and feel pretty welcome at Passions. He probably wouldn't mind someone sharing his work here. I'd like to think that - but I really don't know.
Do you think McKuen would appreciate seeing his poetry on a porn site? Or posted next to a poem advocating racial supremacy and hate? I doubt it. I know I'm a bit fussy about where my poetry is posted, as I suspect most writers are. Now, whether McKuen would want his work posted at Passions, or whether someone's brother's girlfriend's mother's boss's nephew would want their work posted at Passion will always be conjecture - until and unless the poet gives their permission. And the only permissions that works for me is to have the author post the poetry.
McKuen or someone's nephew isn't likely to lose any money by having their poetry posted at Passions. And I don't really expect to have a lawyer knocking on my door. This issue isn't about money, nor even about following the strict letter of the law, although I think both of those should be important to an artist.
This issue is about respect.
As a writer, I would hope that people would have enough respect for me to ask permission before posting my work somewhere. I know that won't always happen. There are plenty of places on the Internet where you can find copyrighted poetry, copyrighted lyrics, and even a few of those copyrighted novels by King. But I figure if I want respect then I better damn well be willing to give it. So you won't find them at Passions.