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Re^4: Style guide for error messages?

by tilly (Archbishop)
on Sep 23, 2005 at 00:54 UTC ( #494355=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Re^3: Style guide for error messages?
in thread Style guide for error messages?

I only got permission to quote 20 of your best practices. Doesn't quite work with the format that I wanted to use to give a comprehensive picture of exactly what practices I agree and disagree with, and why. (Unsurprisingly, I agree with more than I disagree with. And the ones that I disagree with I'd agree with in different circumstances.)

I'm debating writing the whole thing anyways and hoping that after the fact I can get permission to post it. But that's a lot of work for what I suspect will be a "no". :-(

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Re^5: Style guide for error messages?
by tlm (Prior) on Sep 28, 2005 at 13:43 UTC

    How about this. Do the article in two parts. In the first part you quote the 20 practices that you feel strongest about, and have permission for. In the second half you comment on the remaining 236 without quoting them, just giving the references to them (e.g. the number of the practice, or the page number). No need to be shy about spelling out the reason for the strange format.

    I agree with xdg that it'd be a shame if copyright laws were to effectively silence this kind of review.

    the lowliest monk

      This sounds like a plan. It will take a while, but I think that I'll use a variation on this approach.
Re^5: Style guide for error messages?
by xdg (Monsignor) on Sep 23, 2005 at 09:33 UTC

    (IANAL) Not sure about 'permission' and your legal geography, Tilly, (California?) but I'd be pretty surprised if even quoting all 256 in the context of a critique didn't fall easily under "fair use" provisions of US copyright law. From the link above (my emphasis):

    The 1961 Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law cites examples of activities that courts have regarded as fair use: “quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author’s observations; use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report; reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy; reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson; reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports; incidental and fortuitous reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located in the scene of an event being reported.”

    So, make it critical, scholarly, and a parody, and you should be on safe ground, regardless of what O'Reilly's lawyers say. (If you can afford the legal costs of a defense, of course...)


    Code written by xdg and posted on PerlMonks is public domain. It is provided as is with no warranties, express or implied, of any kind. Posted code may not have been tested. Use of posted code is at your own risk.

      I was going to go through all 256 and state briefly what I thought of each one. In many cases, of course, I would heartily agree. There were some trivial errors that I wanted to point out. And there were some that I disagreed with. I thought it would be interesting to be able to give a concrete illustration of what Damian was talking about in the introduction.

      But, given that the point of the book is the set of 256 best practices that Damian put quite a bit of thought into, quoting all of them seems to me to be a little more than fair use would allow. You might disagree, but TheDamian and Allison Randal both thought that reasonable, and both said that I needed to ask for permission because O'Reilly is the copyright holder.

      The permission that I got from O'Reilly was to be allowed to quote 20 publically. Which suggests that the copyright holder, as well, would consider 256 to be copyright infringement, and would definitely be unhappy about it.

      Before I got that permission Allison had suggested that I write the article I wanted to write, and send that to Because with a concrete idea of what I would write, it would be easier for them to decide to say, "Yes." I'm still debating doing that, but it is harder to get motivated now that I know that there is a good chance that I'll get a "no" in the end.

        Of course, if you ask for permission, they're going to say no. The whole point of fair use is to allow you to do it anyway. Write back and make an argument that it's covered under fair use as a critique and for non-profit, educational purposes and that they might as well just agree.

        It's also worth remembering that they can only copyright words, not ideas. If you're really worried, you can comment on all 256 as long as you express Damian's ideas in your own words -- that's a slight loss of fidelity, of course.

        They may not like it, but while their lawyers may bluster, it's hard to imagine that they would think they could win in court.


        Code written by xdg and posted on PerlMonks is public domain. It is provided as is with no warranties, express or implied, of any kind. Posted code may not have been tested. Use of posted code is at your own risk.

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