Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

I Just Updated My Copyright Date - So What?

By Dennis D. McDonald

I just updated the copyright statement in the footer of this blog from

Copyright © 2002-2011 by Dennis D. McDonald. Please ask before re-publishing content from this web site.


Copyright © 2002-2012 by Dennis D. McDonald. Please ask before re-publishing content from this web site.

Why do I do that every year at this time? I’m not really sure any more. 

There was a time when I sincerely cared about the details of copyright law and how it operated. Early in my career, for example, I managed a series of government funded research projects into how managing copyright-related formalities impacted industries and activities like motion pictures, textile design, and database publishing.

This interest had all grown out of the influence one of my professors Laurence B. Heilprin had on my thinking about the relationship between publishing, technology, and copyright. Back then I had thoughts about copyright as a type of “control” over the flow of information from authors to users via the publishing process. Heilprin, a physicist, had even modeled this process using basic cybernetic concepts and had made a series of logical proposals about how to incorporate the monitoring of photocopying by libraries into the overall process given how sensitive scholarly journal publishers were to uncontrolled photocopying. (Given my interest in copyright and technology I even flirted with the idea of getting a law degree once I had finished with my doctorate but good sense prevailed and I wound up in the electronic publishing business instead.)

Fast forward to today. My attitude about copyright has changed a lot. I still believe in author’s rights - I am writing this right now - but when I look at how copyright industries have bent the law and lawmaking processes to protect old business models that don’t directly benefit authors and artists, I have to wonder about the value of copyright given how information is created and shared in the real world.

Using legacy legal concepts to shut down questionable internet domains related to piracy without regard to ancillary effects on free speech and due process, as proposed with laws such as SOPA, is far removed from promoting “…the Progress of Science and useful Arts.”

And don’t get me started on the economics of publishing and how government funded research ends up being published in commercial journals that require libraries to pay thousands of dollars a year in subscription fees. Having been in the publishing business myself I am very well aware of the economics of publishing. I know there ain’t no free lunches - I have my own mortgage to pay, thank you.

But when complex systems reach a point where legal and commercial entities are more interested in preserving the infrastructure itself than in promoting what the infrastructure is supposed to be supporting, it’s time for some serious disruption.

But I still display my copyright notice. Maybe it’s just my way of saying, “Hey, if you want to republish my stuff, please be nice enough to ask me first.”

Copright (c) 2012 by Dennis D. McDonald. Contact me by email at

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