LINGUIST List 12.1490

Mon Jun 4 2001

Disc: Ethics of Web-based vs Paper Publications

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. John R. Rennison, Re: 12.1466, Disc: Ethics of Web-based vs Paper Publications

Message 1: Re: 12.1466, Disc: Ethics of Web-based vs Paper Publications

Date: Mon, 4 Jun 2001 18:19:03 +0200
From: John R. Rennison <>
Subject: Re: 12.1466, Disc: Ethics of Web-based vs Paper Publications

I think that part of David Odden's point has been misinterpreted. It's
not just a question of "someone" possibly having a computer and web
connection at a university in the developing world. It's a matter of
the availability of material from the web to, say, a class of
students. A book or article can be passed around, and will get read
(unlike in some "western" universities). But you can't let a whole
class of students mess around with the only computer available to a
department; the risk of damage would be too great - so they will never
read anything online.

As for printing out articles from the web: this is a big problem in
areas like Ouagadougou where the life expectancy of any printer is
about a year (if you take good care of it) and ink cartridges dry out
in no time.

As for the ethical issue of copyright, perhaps the laws should be
amended to exclude from copyright payments anyone who hasn't eaten
more than [however many] calories in the last week. No, this isn't a
serious suggestion. But I do think that the notion of "intellectual
property" is an outgrowth of the extreme wealth of the western world,
and cannot be sold at the same price to the developing world. How
about charging copyright fees as a percentage of the average wage or
minimum wage of a country? In most developing countries, the amount
would probably be too small to be worth levying.

John Rennison

(Prof.) John R. Rennison
Institut fFCr Schallforschung der D6AW
Reichsratsstr. 17, A-1010 Wien, Austria


Institut fFCr Sprachwissenschaft der UniversitE4t Wien
Berggasse 11. A-1090 Wien, Austria

Tel.: +43 1 4277-29501 or -41738
Secr.: +43 1 4277-41701
fax: +43 1 4277-9295 or -9417
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