SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
The same old riddle…?!
The chicken or the egg: which came first? In the chess world we are all copyright-whores and so we should have little moral right to complain. We players play chess-games that soon afterwards appear for free on the internet. Should we then have to pay for them?
Better still: do the distributers pay us for them? We players can download for free chess-playing engines. It is the same story. Plus it is still an open debate whether these same engines infringe upon commercially available software. For now I don’t really care: someone is taking something of ours for free and so why should we not be allowed to do the same?
A well-known website dealing with the history of chess, its players and lesser known facts feels it has a right to copyright material, photos and interviews that it finds in old newspapers and magazines. Does it have any right to do this? Does it have the right to demand that I not display such photos and interviews because it says it has a copyright?
I think not. I hold the view that until these and related issues are settled in a more internet-global context, we –as consumers–are free to do as we please with most of the chess-related universe that we find for free on the ‘net. Should one day things change and the courts uphold these changes, then I will have no problem changing my blog so that it conforms to what will then be clear guidelines and laws. Certainly it will look different: perhaps it might not be as good–though that is another question.
Mark Crowther dropped a bomb this past week announcing the end to a sponsorship-relationship that his excellent TWIC magazine had with the London Chess Centre for the past 14 years. Mark leaves open the future of the on-line magazine, including the possibility of charging subscriptions for what has been up to now free for the taking. Personally, I would not be against paying a small fee for the same service, though I can not speak for others.
I would regret to see TWIC disappear. Being a creature of habit, I will then have to find an alternative source(s) to satisfy my weekly downloading of games. A number of alternative websites exist, though none as convenient as TWIC.
But let us not show any tears should TWIC disappear the way of the dinosaurs: before TWIC appeared for free a number of independent chess players offered this subscription-based system of downloadable games and then when TWIC came along Mr. Crowther did not have a problem putting them out of business.
Perhaps it is only progress. Perhaps it is just how the world works…perhaps it is just getting your own medicine. If there is blame somewhere, then I would be reluctant to place it on the average chessplayer. Let’s face it: chess is and should be free. If you can make some money from selling me my own recently played games , then something is really wrong somewhere!
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS