No poem this week. Sorry. I've got other issues on my mind. Please read this post as a PSA, not a rant or a finger-pointing accusation.
Earlier this week, I received this email from J. Patrick Lewis (used here with his permission):
Dear Mary Lee,
Could you please answer a question for me? Suppose you wanted to post a poem on your blog that was written by say, Philip Larkin or Elizabeth Bishop (or any famous poet not in the public domain). Could you do so without securing permission and paying for rights? I see such poems all over the internet, and I always wonder if the poet's permission to post was secured.
Here's my answer (not exactly as I wrote it -- I edited it a bit for this post):
The short answer to that question is that no, a person should never publish a poem on one's own blog/site that's not in the public domain unless permission has been secured (and is included in the post).Kate Messner wrote on this topic yesterday in a post that's a little closer to home -- how to share content from other blogs: "About Copyright and Sharing Content". Her bottom line is a good one to keep in mind:
The true answer is the one you've discovered for yourself -- people do it all the time.
The grey space between the short answer and the true answer is the digital citizenship that many Poetry Friday bloggers try to teach by example. If we can't get permission for the poem, we post part of it and link to the site where we found it. Or we link to the book it is from, so that our reproduction of the poem is a form of advertising for the author. The same is true for the images we use on our blog. I mostly use my own photos, but when either of us use a picture that's not our own, we take it from Flickr Creative Commons and cite attribution. We do use book cover images without asking for permission, but always in the context of a positive review of the book and a link for purchase as our form of attribution.
Thank you for your question. It pulled my mission as a teacher into sharper focus than ever: it is so essential, so necessary, so mandatory that at school, children are given the opportunity to live the creative life -- reading, writing, making stuff (actual and digital) and sharing their own creations. If they never live on the creative side (even just playing at it, practicing it at school), they will never understand the importance of securing permissions. Because they will fail to see why it matters until they have THEIR stuff out there and they want others not to steal/misuse THEIR creation.
Thank you for your patience with this departure from the usual light fare of Poetry Friday. Go check out the other offerings on the Poetry Friday Roundup at A Teaching Life.