Last week, I discovered I’m in the dictionary.
Occasionally, I Google my own name to see who’s pirating my work and where they’re putting it. In many ways, cyberspace is like the anarchic Old West. Copyright? Yeah, sure.
All right, I could have worded that more charitably. Not all incidents of my writing ending up on someone else’s website are thievery. Sometimes it’s just a brief excerpt properly credited or a legitimate link to an article that is appearing on The Daily Gazette’s website. But, other times, there’s a total disregard for intellectual property rights and copyright law.
I realize I’ve lost some of you. Some of my readers are proudly non-conversant with the technology of the 21st century so they say they’re not familiar with words like “cyberspace,” which describes the imaginary place where electronic data resides or is transmitted to, and “Google,” a recently coined verb that means to search for something by using a search engine on the Internet. (Google, the verb, comes from the name of the most popular of these search engines, and that’s why you’ll often see it capitalized, even when it’s being used as a verb.)
A while ago, I was at luncheon in Connecticut where I met one of my wife’s cousins for the first time. Both when we were introduced and when we said goodbye, he proudly told me: “I don’t do the Facebook.”
Understand that I didn’t ask him if he did “the Facebook,” but he evidently sized me up as one of those odd blokes who probably do. (Have you noticed that people who can’t abide modern technology tend to put a “the” in front of the things they can’t or won’t fathom? I would venture that the cousin in question doesn’t do “the email” either.)
But I digress. I was checking out where my published pieces have landed recently. I write about a lot of different topics so, not surprisingly, my work winds up in far-flung places.
I wrote about my wife’s bout with vertigo while we were on vacation, and the piece ended up on vertigo-round.com; a column about tattoos appeared on tattoo.boomja.com, and you can find me on indiatwo.com,greensalad.com, and woodstoves-fireplaces.com, just to name a few.
Sometimes, you’ll find my column reproduced without a link to our website. That’s a copyright infringement that can get you in legal hot water.
It is acceptable, however, to excerpt a brief passage from a writer’s work with proper credit to the writer and the medium.
That’s what Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary entry did in a recent “Word of the Day” entry.
The word, on April 16, 2012, was “piquant.” Besides a definition, the Word of the Day entries offer a couple of examples of use of the word.
For “piquant,” there was this example:
“Our main courses were preceded by green salads, which were bright and crisp with a suitably piquant balsamic vinegar dressing.”— From a review by Irv Dean in The Daily Gazette, February 19, 2012.”
Even if you don’t do the Facebook or the email, go Google yourself. You might be surprised at what you find.
Irv Dean is the Gazette's city editor. Reach him by email to email@example.com.