Sunday, June 01, 2008

Washington Post covers tangled copyright claims

That ubiquitous "Footprints" poem, in which it's revealed that G-d carries you through your times of trouble, turns out to have equally ubiquitous authorship claims, and now a lawsuit, despite the fact that the claimed author's story clearly indicates divestive publication without notice before 1978 (not to mention ridiculous delay in asserting any rights there might somehow be). Rachel Aviv's article for the Poetry Foundation goes through the literary evidence of the poem's antecedents. "Along with [four people profiled in the piece,] at least a dozen other people have claimed, less rigorously, to have penned this poem. None of their accounts are particularly convincing, yet they all seem to genuinely believe they wrote the poem. They describe the words coming out effortlessly, even uncontrollably, as if they were finally articulating something they’d always known."

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