Friday, December 23, 2011

Pastor Tim Rogers, Godly Man in Authority

Today’s post requires background from the Ticker.

Relating to the Licona-Geisler controversy, Dr. Thomas Howe issued a blog entry of interest. For reasons unknown at the time, the blog entry was removed some days later, and then returned, updated.

In between, another Geisler supporter, one Pastor Tim Rogers (of a small church in NC) took it upon himself to reprint Howe’s posting in full. I’ve watched Rogers for a while and have been duly unimpressed; his support of Geisler earned him a spot in my vid Geisler’s Christmas Carol (see pic), and he’s a guaranteed chicken when it comes to being confronted with his errors, as shown below. (By the way, he also refuses to allow Nick Peters to post on his blog, and gives varied excuses for that as well.)

Those that know me what came next.

I posted as a comment on Rogers’ blog:

Do you have Dr. Howe’s permission to reprint his entry?

If not, do you know what “intellectual property rights” are, or is that sort of moral concern beneath your radar as a “godly man in authority”?

I knew the answer, of course. “Godly men in authority” like Rogers don’t respect the intellectual property rights of others, especially when they think that some higher purpose of theirs is at stake. In what followed, Rogers hemmed and hawed and dodged the issue, with such pointless questions as to whether I was asking for myself or on Howe’s behalf; he responded at one point to my detailed exposition on why he was wrong with nothing but a “Merry Christmas” greeting. That's a Santariffic way to dodge the issue, isn't it?

To be fair, though, Rogers in reply comments demonstrated a dismal ignorance of copyright law as well – which is just a further hallmark of the ignorance of such “godly men in authority”. Among other things, Rogers:

1) Implied that it didn’t make any difference because Howe had taken the blog entry down. (Wrong. Howe is still the owner of the intellectual property of his blog entry.)

2) It was “in the public domain.” (No, it was not. This manifest ignoramus
apparently thinks that “public domain” means “it’s publicly available.” It does not. It means a work where the copyright has either expired, or the author has freely released the work to be used by the public. The music I use for my TektonTV vids is an example of the latter. Neither of those descriptions applies to Howe’s post. And though I corrected Rogers on this point, he later reiterated the same asinine understanding of “public domain” to another commenter.

3) He gave full credit to Howe as author. (Also does not matter. “Fair use” means credit is a good idea – it’s not always required, depending on the circumstances -- and it also means you can’t reprint the whole work, as Rogers did.

4) Later, he also suggested that it was Howe’s responsibility to contact HIM and let him know he didn’t want it used. That too is false. Copyright law is quite clear on this matter:

How do I get permission to use somebody else’s work?

You can ask for it. If you know who the copyright owner is, you may contact the owner directly. If you are not certain about the ownership or have other related questions, you may wish to request that the Copyright Office conduct a search of its records or you may search yourself. See the next question for more details.

How much of someone else’s work can I use without getting permission?

Under the fair use doctrine of the U.S. copyright statute, it is permissible to use limited portions of a work including quotes, for purposes such as commentary, criticism, news reporting, and scholarly reports. There are no legal rules permitting the use of a specific number of words, a certain number of musical notes, or percentage of a work. Whether a particular use qualifies as fair use depends on all the circumstances. See FL 102, Fair Use, and Circular 21, Reproductions of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians.

Somebody infringed my copyright. What can I do?

A party may seek to protect his or her copyrights against unauthorized use by filing a civil lawsuit in federal district court. If you believe that your copyright has been infringed, consult an attorney. In cases of willful infringement for profit, the U.S. Attorney may initiate a criminal investigation.

Could I be sued for using somebody else’s work? How about quotes or samples?

If you use a copyrighted work without authorization, the owner may be entitled to bring an infringement action against you. There are circumstances under the fair use doctrine where a quote or a sample may be used without permission. However, in cases of doubt, the Copyright Office recommends that permission be obtained.

By the way, the Government's stuff isn't covered by I can quote THAT all I want.

Additionally, one of Rogers’ airheaded supporters – also a pastor of the same mold – arrived at the ludicrous conclusion that the same objections ought to have applied to eg, 2 Peter and Jude (whoever copied whom). Not only is that absurd because it applies laws and concepts that did not exist for another 1800 years at least; it is also oblivious to the point that the Bible, ultimately inspired by God, is God’s property to freely inspire others to use – or, even if you are not one who believes in the inspiration of the Bible, the Bible is itself the property of the community (Body of Christ), and so its members are free to reproduce it. Morever, if the Bible’s purpose is to evangelize and exhort everyone (in line with the Great Commission), that would be the equivalent of a “public domain” purpose.

The same airhead also professed that it was not as simple as I made it out to be with the Internet in the mix. That’s true – the Internet makes it much easier for moral indigents like these pastors to get away with, and engage in, such wholesale intellectual theft. But has it made it any less immoral or illegal? Nope.

In the end, Howe’s updated reposting of his entry saved this poor schlep the moral question of what he ought to do and enabled him the ultimate dodge on the central issue. But it didn’t save him from exposure as a moral failure. All he had to do, really, was say, “Oh. OK. I’ll ask Howe by email/phone. Be right back.” That wouldn’t have been that hard.

But no, that is not how it is with “godly men in authority.” They are godly, so their rule is law. They can’t be troubled to make sure they’re doing right, or to look up things like “public domain”. Everyone else can take the rule of law and stick it somewhere dark and comfy when they’re busy with their work for the Kingdumb. Shut up, you idiot, I'm preaching the Word of God.

If you ever wonder why I’m so insistent on making an issue of authoritarian bullies – look no further. They’ll help kill the church in America faster than even John Loftus can.


Update: Hours after this post, Rogers professed to have in hand the permission I requested to reprint. Notably, he very carefully failed to indicate that he only got this permission AFTER being called down for his moral failures.

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