The Woes of Publishing

Once upon a time, I saw some poetry that I really liked. So, I emailed the poet – lets call him MELVIN – and asked him if he would like to be a feature on Latchkey.net. MELVIN was more than happy to, as you can see from his reply.

Rocco,

“….honor!…”

“…….love to….”

MELVIN.

If you are wondering why I am only giving you fragments of his email, you’ll understand at the end of this article. Anyway, we at Latchkey went ahead and posted his work on our site. However, as an oversight on my part, we not only published some of the poems he sent us, but also pieces that he had on his website. It was an oversight – please understand. In the past we have been encouraged by other artists to copy works from their sites when we feature them. I didn’t think it was such a big deal, considering our site doesn’t make any money or profit from featuring whom we select. MELVIN, however, was bothered by it.

Rocco,

“….thankful…..”

“…..not too keen……”

“….lifting works……”

“…..other places….”

“…..permission….”

“…….laws against that…”

MELVIN.

Now, I could have simply removed the poems that MELVIN told us to remove, and been done with it, but I was annoyed with MELVIN’S response. Technically, I understand now, it was infringement. But along with these poems, we posted:

-a photo of him

-a link to his site

-a brief description of his art, written by him, for this particular feature

-a rather complementary write-up on his work written by yours truly

Considering this, what I did wasn’t exactly what you would call stealing, but that is what he was accusing me of. I was beginning to believe that MELVIN was a bit of a twit.

MELVIN,

Sorry it has taking me so long to get back to you, I have been very busy of late and have had little time to do any emailing. I would like to apologize for taking some of your other pieces without permission. Thank you for letting us at Latchkey.net know about the rules and laws of the Internet. I am very relieved that you informed us about our trespassing. Especially since we were just about to make some minor alterations to your featured pieces. Believe me, I loved all of your pieces, but as a collective we felt that we could enhance some or all of them by giving them more of a slant, or a dialect, so to speak.

We decided that your pieces would benefit being translated into “Jive” talk. Working hard, and researching a great deal of Ebonics, we have translated one of my favourite piece of yours,

[Actually, what I did here was run the poem through The Dialectizer, an online program that takes normal text and alters it to give the text a selected dialect. For example the previous sentence, run through The Dialectizer, would come out looking something like this:

“Acshully, whut ah did hyar was helter-skelter th’ poem through Th’ Dialeckizer, an online program thet takes no’mal text an’ alters it an’ gives th’ text a selecked dialeck.”

Pretty neat, huh? The link is http://rinkworks.com/dialect.

Back to my reply to MELVIN.]

Wow, huh?

I bet you see your poem in a whole new light. We’d love to feature all your poems like this, but of course, as you say, there are laws against doing such things without a person’s permission. So we’d like to ask for your permission to go a ahead and do this

Thanks kindly,

Rocco de Giacomo

My response was both to inform MELVIN that his pieces had been removed from the site, and to subtly suggest he loosen up a little.

MELVIN did not take my response kindly.

Rocco,

“…ripped from…”

“….pissed off…”

“….bait me….”

“…..remove…..”

…MELVIN.

He ordered me to remove his entire feature from Latchkey.net. This is where things got a little more involved. MELVIN was not used to being joked with, and I am not used to taking orders.

MELVIN,

The chances of us doing anything more together ended as soon as you sent that curt, rather unappreciative email. To imply that I am a thief after a month long exchange of emails and hours of preparation by Lisa and myself was insulting. But I will forgo you for your exceptional writing. In regards to removing your writing from my site, we’ll decide at the end of the month,

Thanks kindly

Rocco de Giacomo

I figured that since he had given us permission to post his remaining poems, he couldn’t take it back.

MELVIN figured differently.

Rocco,

“….blunt….”

“…….thief…..”

“….copyright……”

“…….without permission…..”

“….until midnight…..”

“…remove……”

“…….copyright violation……”

“….the RCMP…..”

MELVIN.

Yes, MELVIN, threatened to get the RCMP after me. Does the RCMP have a Poetry department? I wonder if instead of those broad hats, and snug red blazers, they wear little berets and long wind-blown scarves. Anyway, as much as MELVIN was angered by my refusal to remove his poetry, I was angered at his reiteration that I was a thief, and his threat to involve the Poetry Police.

You believe that the RCMP are going to come after me over some poems. Let alone poems that you gave me permission to publish.

Hello in there MELVIN, what colour is the sky in your little world?

You can sue me if you want. Fill out this form:

MELVIN hereby sues Rocco de Giacomo for the following:

1. Emotional pain

2. Creative pain

3. Lower back pain

4. Singing in the rain

5. Johnny Coltraine

6. Rogaine.

7. Blaming it on the Rain.

Total pending: __

Or even better, you can write Latchkey.net on a paper cup, fill in with hot coffee, then pour it on your crotch.

Once you do this, contact me and I will send you a cheque. We have proof of your permission.

We will keep your photo, the poems you gave us, and my rather beautiful write up on you, until the end of the month. I will then make a decision whether to keep you on our site.

Thanks kindly,

Rocco de Giacomo

I was convinced I was right. In a regular magazine or newspaper, once a piece is published, the author can’t change his mind and have all magazines and newspapers recalled. The Internet should have the same kind of laws, right? I was determined to keep MELVIN’S work until the end of the month. He was a twit and he called me a thief. End of story.

Well, almost. While MELVIN and I were busy exchanging compliments, Lisa, resourceful, intelligent Lisa was researching the Internet for Copyright laws. While it is not clear on whether MELVIN did in fact have the right to recall his poems from my site, Lisa thought it would be safer to remove his work, even though he had originally given us permission to post them. So while I was in the midst of anticipating MELVIN’S next move, and relishing my own response, Lisa was removing his poems, photograph, bio, and write-up from Latchkey.

As much as I disapproved, she was right.

During the little ordeal, I was beginning to forget the real reasons for us making this website together. We made it for ourselves and for the world community of artists to enjoy.

We haven’t heard back from MELVIN yet, and for all we know, he’s already hiring a lawyer. I regret getting caught up in pettiness, and in the future I will need to show more patience if I want this to work.

I will say this:

MELVIN, if you are out there, you were right.

But you are still a twit.