Copyright’s influence on Digital History

The seventh chapter of Cohen and Rosenzweig’s book Digital History was pretty fascinating because it brought up the seeming difficulty in keeping your work posted online from being pilfered and pirated.  They bring up the point that unlike other areas (such as movies and music) historians are more concerned about their work being plagerized and passed off as someone elses rather than really wanting any royalties for it.  But then they ask the question: where do you draw the line between “fair use” and plagerism?  Fair use implies that historians cannot research and write in a vacuum; its only reasonable that they be allowed to use the works of others to guide their own.  And I agree with that…so long as they cite the sources they use and give credit where credit is due.  History should not be a selfish subject, there should be equal sharing of information all around so that historians everywhere can build off one anothers research to create a greater understanding of the past.

Which came first?

After reading Errol Morris’ article, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”, I was very intrigued by the fact that Morris seemed to be utterly convinced that Fenton had not staged the second photograph even though that was the conclusion several modern authors had come to.  He seemed to have thought that these authors had come to that conclusion by coming up with conjectures about Fenton’s behavior rather than analyzing the photographs themselves.  It was quite interesting how those authors, (Keller, Harwood-Booth, and Sontag) were convinced the photograph with the cannonballs in the road was the second (and staged) photograph when they had not analyzed the photo particularly closely.

In the end, Morris conceeded that they were right albeit for the wrong reasons.  They were convinced Fenton moved the cannonballs onto the road to make a more dramatic photo but did no forensic examinations of the photographs to back up their argument.  They seemed to prove Morris’ claim that people tend to jump to the conspiricy answer when there is little evidence for or against it.  I thought the important point of the article was that you need to do research and collect evidence supporting your conlcusion before you declare something to be a conspiricy based solely on the conjectured behavior of the people involved.