The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0012  Thursday, 10 January 2013


From:        Laurie Johnson <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         January 8, 2013 3:45:10 PM EST

Subject:     Query about Attribution of Posts to SHAKSPER


I’ve noticed that the latest post to SHAKSPER is Esther Schupak’s reposting of the Shakespearean Hokey Pokey, an item that has been doing the rounds on the Internet ever since it won the 2003 Washington Post contest. There’s no harm in reposting old classics, of course. But I wonder if there is something less than proper about reposting other people’s words about the classics as well. I also wonder if the poster might not have done a bit of digging on the web to identify the poem’s author and provide appropriate attribution.


Jeff Brechlin’s poem and Katerhine St. John’s spiel about it can be found here:  http://www.phantomranch.net/folkdanc/articles/hokeypokey.htm


You will see that Esther reproduces St. John’s spiel verbatim, without attribution.


I know copyright law is sketchy and inconsistent when it comes to internet content, so there’s probably nothing technically illegal here (indeed, a search for St.John’s spiel shows dozens of blogs and forums on which her spiel is reproduced verbatim without attribution), but as a long-time user of a number of discussion forums, I am noticing a sharp increase in this trend of contributors to forums or blogs repackaging existing internet content as a post in their own name. I wonder if other members of the SHAKSPER community share my concerns about this practice in general or, if not, could help me to learn to stop worrying and love the bomb?


Laurie Johnson

Associate Professor of English and Cultural Studies

Faculty of Arts

University of Southern Queensland


[Editor’s Note: Let me also say that in this instance the poem sounded familiar but then so do most of the stories I read in the newspaper daily. I edit SHAKSPER for the smoothness of the posting, occasionally correcting misspellings and punctuation, but there are not enough hours in the day for me to submit postings to the rigor of say an article in Shakespeare Quarterly or another academic publication. I strive to judge the appropriateness of submissions (yes, Virginia, SHAKSPER does not publish Oxfordian or other authorship postings), but I simply do not have the time to do much more than I already am doing and, therefore, depend on submitters to practice a degree of pre-formatting and pre-editing, making submissions as readable as possible. Thanks to everyone. –Hardy]


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