Get PJ Media on your Apple

PJM Lifestyle

Why Whittaker Chambers Will No Longer Be Quoted, Celebrated, or Discussed at PJ Lifestyle

The copyright holder objects to blogs using extended quotes of Witness and other writings to promote the life and ideas of the heroic ex-Communist.

by
Dave Swindle

Bio

June 8, 2013 - 9:00 am
Page 1 of 4  Next ->   View as Single Page

I present an email exchange (in full, unedited) that I had Friday afternoon from an email received via the PJ Media contact form, reprinted with permission from the sender. Consider this a warning to all who would seek to study the work of Whittaker Chambers and urge others to buy copies of his stunning, historically important memoir Witness using blogs and New Media. PJ Lifestyle will no longer discuss or quote from Whittaker Chambers, out of sincere respect for the author’s descendants’ wishes. Plenty of other books I’m eager to read explore similar ideas about history, courage, ideology and extraordinary lives that I’m currently researching for my own books and ebooks.

So I will cease my study of Chambers — I’ve read enough to get the idea… And I will now give other figures in the history of the conservative movement the attention they deserve. I’m also burnt out on Ayn Rand, the author I was reading juxtaposed with her nemesis Chambers on Thursdays. I’m 116 pages in and was expecting by now to be so hooked that  I would’ve ignored all other books in favor of following Dagny Taggart and John Galt. It’s a fun book and I agree with most of its general points (minus the atheism) and individualist spirit but I guess my fanatical radical capitalist train already left the station. I already delight in shocking my Democrat friends and family by proclaiming we have no need of Social Security and the goal of my generation over the course of the next 20 years should be to dissassemble about 85-95% of the New Deal and its demonic government grandchildren, the Great Society and Obamacare…  Perhaps it’s time to move on to reading Marvin Liebman’s Coming Out Conservative: An Autobiography and William F. Buckley Jr.’s novel Getting It Right for my Thursday study of Conservative Movement history.

PJ Lifestyle is also still very interested in studying and promoting the stories of ex-leftists, ex-Marxists, ex-Communists, ex-”Liberals”, ex-Muslims, ex-Secularists, ex-Democrats, as well as any other individual who has escaped a cult or poisonous political, religious, or cultural ideology. Please contact me at DaveSwindlePJM [@] gmail [.] com to share your story and your book recommendations. I’m currently accepting additional suggestions to add to my 7 piles in my Radical Reading Regimen. And if you are a publisher and would like excerpts from your book featured at PJ Lifestyle (or reviews of your book by our authors) then please contact me. I am a lifelong book enthusiast raised by a librarian mother and seek only to encourage all humans to read widely and deeply every day of their lives of the books that can improve and transform both them and their country…

From: webmaster@pjmedia.com

Subject: [PJM EDITORIAL] Please contact me

Date: June 7, 2013 1:49:58 PM PDT

To: pj-editors@pjmedia.com

FROM: David Chambers

EMAIL: info@whittakerchambers.org

WEBSITE: http://www.whittakerchambers.org/

MESSAGE:

Dear PJ Media,

Please contact me regarding continued quotes from Whittaker Chambers by “PJ Lifestyle.”

David Chambers

http://www.whittakerchambers.org/

info@whittakerchambers.org

He was either wanting to discourage my promotions of Witness or offer some kind of assistance or collaboration. I responded already knowing that my attempt at celebrating a heroic figure’s memory had likely already been misinterpreted: 

——– Original Message ———

Subject: Re: [PJM EDITORIAL] Please contact me

From: “Dave Swindle”

Date: 6/7/13 5:01 pm

To: info@whittakerchambers.org

Hello David,

I hope my use of quotes from Witness has not caused any offense. Is something wrong?

-David

David Swindle Associate Editor

Follow me on Twitter:http://twitter.com/DaveSwindle

David Chambers responded quickly…

Comments are closed.

All Comments   (16)
All Comments   (16)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
What a sophomoric display of public petulance.

Reprinting pages at a time, especially if done repeatedly, runs afoul of fair use, and its not up to you to decide if providing a link to the book is adequate payment. And you were so upset that this was brought to your attention, respectfully I might add, that you just had to post the correspondence with passive-agressive little digs interspersed throughout? To indirectly suggest that people now not read the work because your feelings were hurt?

On the plus side, at least this post had more added "content" then your previous reposts of passages from Witness.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I did not reprint pages at a time. The longest quotation printed was 319 words in length, no more than 3 paragraphs. I -- and everyone else I have talked to about this -- believe that my use of the quotations is entirely covered by fair use.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A couple you might not have seen. A bit on opposite sides.

My Times, by John Corry, formerly of the New York Times. What is interesting is that he says he was one of the original neoconservatives, but his current views on foreign policy are those usually those associated with paleos.

A book by a Soviet refusenik (they are Russian, so they tend to be rather long). Return by Herman Branover or Refusnik by Mark Azbel or Sharansky's book. A sometimes forgotten part of the war against the USSR.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The whole thing hinges, as far as I can see, on what constitutes "Fair Use." My understanding is that typically someone who publishes stuff, or posts stuff, just does it (unless it's a picture of a work of art, perhaps a photograph) and then waits for someone to assert copyright, as Mr. Chambers has. There's a gray line here where reproducing this much of a piece of writing is OK, and any more than that is a violation of copyright. No one seems to know exactly where that line is.

Oh, and by the way, no offense, but the heading and tenor of the whole article make it sound as if you're *very* upset. You may not think you are, but you sure sound like it...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'll agree that the tenor of the whole article has a different tone than my usual pieces but I assure you that I am not very upset about this. But thank you for your concern.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Dave,
You should, of course, continue to read and study Whitaker Chambers, but I understand your reluctance to write any more PJM essays about him after the copyright issue. I plan on reading "Witness."

Igor Shafarevich was a Russian dissenter and anti-Communist; he wrote "The Socialist Phenomenon" which is linked below.

http://www.robertlstephens.com/essays/shafarevich/001SocialistPhenomenon.html
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thank you for the link to Igor Shafarevich's writing, Liberty Clinger! It looks fascinating and I'm eager to read it. Solzhenitsyn's Foreword alone has been worth reading. Shafarevich's "judgment that Marxism lacks even the climate of scientific inquiry" is certainly true.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
THANK YOU SO MUCH LIBERTY CLINGER!!! THIS LOOKS FANTASTIC!!! I'm going to put on my iPad right now. Looks like I've already found a replacement for Witness. :)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think Chambers' point is that WC is doing all the heavy lifting. I've noticed that myself for months. Writing "this is interesting" and then showing a page of text is not an "article."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You're right. Excerpting a piece of text from somewhere else and posing a question about it or commenting on it briefly or juxtaposing it with another excerpt or images is not an article. It's a blog post. And I understand that some people can be confused by the fact that PJ Lifestyle publishes both articles and blog posts just as the other PJ Media sections publish longer articles and shorter blog posts.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
In the future I will provide a more expansive definition which will include every possible permutation of the presentation of text and images down to their atomic components in space warped or otherwise and with regard to non-Aristotelian Euclidean fourth dimensional higher orders of thought now, yesterday, and in any possible combination of NOW, futures alternate or otherwise, and all the pasts that ever were, even if imaginary.

In this manner, any pedantry herewith under your control whether negative or painful henceforward described as "yours" will not be confused with my confusion and I will not have to name or describe every object in the universe by way of adding context and preventing further mistakes and mischances.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sounds like a winning game plan.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A couple of things strike me here. One is the nature of Swindle's reaction. Was an offer made to compensate for the use Swindle was making of the Whitaker's work? Swindle readily admits that he pays Shutterstock for images, so he has no problem with the principle.

His complaint seems to be that his use doesn't violate fair use. I'm actually not sure - and I've run several websites and published blogs so I've taken refuge in it. Entire pages of a work are certainly questionable - I would be unsure. So I don't understand why Swindle would react so absolutely.

The real complaint here seems to be that Swindle believes Chambers shouldn't enforce copyright here based on the promotional value of his articles. Superficially this sounds sensible but under closer examination I'm not so sure. This is ex-post facto - they had no such agreement. Swindle is merely asserting this after the fact but there is no reason for Chambers to even have to respond to that claim since they have no bargain. Worse yet, Swindle provides no evidence of value for us evaluate. That Amazon link he provides? That's an affiliate link, and any sales that go through he would have a record of. No mention of any actual sales. Chambers has all his sales records and can see where sales come from on Amazon across all affiliate links. He must feel that the value is not worth it. This seems implied, yes?

Finally, there are the factors and information Swindle has no access to. What other copyright enforcement actions has he undertaken? What legal advice have his publishers and perhaps own copyright atty given him? Swindle should know as a content creator that this is David's property and may have numerous reasons for enforcing his copyright which have little to to with Swindle himself.

Swindle, tell us please, did you even try to negotiate reasonable terms? Was there actual economic value from Amazon sales?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Was an offer made to compensate for the use Swindle was making of the Whitaker's work?"
No. The entire correspondence we had has been reproduced here.

"Swindle readily admits that he pays Shutterstock for images, so he has no problem with the principle."
We don't pay Shutterstock. We have a free account. They just allow us to use their copyrighted images.

"Entire pages of a work are certainly questionable - I would be unsure."
I don't recall running an entire page, though I'm not 100% sure that I have not since I do not have a hardback or paperback copy of the book. The quotes have been coming from the Kindle edition so the page count is variable depending on how big one makes the font. Generally a few paragraphs gets the point across. I don't believe that I've violated copyright and it was never my intent to do so nor to diminish the value of the book by quoting from it. I believe that my published quotations from Witness fall under fair use and add value rather than detract by explicitly telling people to go and by the book. http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

But it's not worth arguing with the copyrightholder over whether they do or not. He claims they do not and I will respect his judgment and cease quoting from and promoting the book.

"Swindle, tell us please, did you even try to negotiate reasonable terms? Was there actual economic value from Amazon sales?"
No, I did not try and negotiate and I haven't investigated the details of Amazon revenue. I do not have infinite editorial time. If an author or copyright holder will claim that my quotations do not fall under fair use then I don't have a need to fight with them. There are tons of other books I can spend my time reading, studying, and promoting that won't result in the increased stress of people contacting me to complain about it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Dave,

Chambers has a point. He's trying to protect the copyright. I wouldn't get upset with him. He doesn't seem to have an issue with quotes used properly i.e.

Chambers came to see that communism was a lie etc. As he wrote in Witness "quote of two sentences" .

Chambers would go on to etc.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I am not upset with him. He saved me a lot of time, actually, and for that I am grateful.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
View All