Ladyfisher

This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm
August 15th, 2005

Something for Nothing?

There are certainly exceptions to every rule; Fly Anglers OnLine (FAOL) is free.

You are welcome to share information you find here, to print out fly patterns, the instructions from our various Fly Tying series and have them for your own use - or for your club's newsletter (provided you give us proper credit) and you may also use them for a fly tying or rod building class. Here's the 'but': if you are doing the classes for profit you can't use the material. As long as it is free, feel free to use it. Trying to profit from what others have provided here for free is not allowed. Besides that, it really is tacky - it is like trying to pass the information off as if it was your own. Since we do have copyrights on everything on FAOL, it is also illegal. We have had a couple of instances over the years where someone tried to put up articles on their websites claiming it was their work. It is a very small world, and eventually we do hear about that sort of thing. It usually only takes a phone call to stop it, and sometimes it was just done in ignorance.

We do receive many requests to use material in club newsletters and websites - I don't think we have ever refused (there may be an exception if the material is from a book and we don't have permission to let others use it - in which case we refer the person back to the publisher). The fun part of sharing our information is we do receive copies of club newsletters as a 'thank you' for use. Besides, we may even gain new readers who have not found us yet by surfing the Internet.

We commonly use excerpts from books, and you have probably noticed we have several publishers as long-time Sponsors. They have learned they benefit when we use their material and sell more books or magazines as a result. We do not however, use excerpts without permission.

Since I was a freelance writer before we started FAOL, I do know how much a writer depends on his writing both for the money and his reputation. I would have been appalled to learn that someone was reprinting my articles and sending them on to others, either by snailmail or email.

But here is the absolute height of either stupidity or arrogance.

Can you imagine someone writing to the author of a magazine article and asking him to send a copy of the article? How about something to the effect of: "I don't subscribe to that magazine and don't want to," but they want the information which it offers.

I'm not kidding, it happened. In fact, a writer had 73 requests for either the article or a personal explanation about the system he described. This is in the current issue of RodMaker Magazine, 'Letters,' page 7. I could hardly believe it.

The writer simply told them to "buy a copy of the magazine and read it yourself." I don't think I would have been so polite.

While I'm thinking about it, here's another one. We have had email from people who wanted us to tell them how to start a website, how to design it, what sort of format to use, where to find a (usually free) ISP to host it, and who they should contact for sponsors. If I am feeling generous, (and don't count on that) I send them a list of books to read. Or I might tell them we are available as consultants and our fee starts at $200 an hour plus expenses - and would they like me to send them a contract. I usually don't hear from them again.

Isn't that sort of like writing to General Motors and asking for the complete instructions to build a Buick? I know this has happened to other people and companies too, we had it about once a month in our former business. I couldn't believe it then either.

I guess I am confused. I don't know if our society has deteriorated to the point where people are just getting dumber, lazier, or expect everyone else to do all the work for them so they will reap the benefits.

I said at the beginning of this that FAOL is free. It is. BUT - I do have expectations of you and all of our readers. It is called paying forward. You have the obligation to pass it on. Maybe you can just recommend FAOL as an information place for fly fishing, tying, or rod building. Maybe you can help someone with their casting, tying or techniques which will help them catch more fish. Perhaps you can help with a group, teach kids, be involved with the Boy Scouts, volunteer with a stream clean-up, take a wounded vet fishing, teach your own kids the value of preserving our waters...there are many things you personally can do to keep the circle going.

Just do it. ~ DLB

If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

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