In a recent discussion on ZinePal, the issue of copyrights was brought up. I know this question may have already been beaten to death, but I'd like to say a few more words.
I don't take an absolutist position, but I lean against copyrights, which isn't surprising, it's a common tendency among libertarians and anarchists, though of course, not universal.
I try to be aware of how a zinester or author feels about the issue and OUT OF COURTESY, respect their claim to any copyrights to their art or writings. There is *some* logic to pro-copyright arguments. CERTAINLY, I don't think it's a considerate thing to go spreading around somebody's personal narratives all over the place, and absolutely respect the wishes of per-zinesters to limit the distribution and exposure of their writings.
The type of writings I am very disinclined to respect the "copyrights" of are political essays, recipes, medical advice, and especially older fiction, of 15, 20 years old, or older. I've reprinted old short stories from the fifties and things like that in my zines. I don't do this often, but there are SO many old, forgotten stories and essays that ARE GOING TO DIE, if somebody doesn't put them back into circulation, and if that's the consequence of copyrights, then I say to hell with them. I make my decision to copy or not to copy on a case by case basis.
Then of course there's the "fair use" clause that one can use pretty broadly and freely, so even "copyrights law" isn't as cut and dried as many of its advocates try to make it out to be.
I see all sorts of purloined photos in zines, many or most from the 50's. These were often, maybe always, as a matter of course, "copyrighted" by the publisher, and as far as I know they remain copyrighted. How many people who freely use these photos and other "detourned" items from mass media (retro though it may be) are claiming copyright to their zines? Not only are they ignoring the copy rights of the original artist or publisher, but they're mocking them as well!
Printing images and text from mainstream sources has been so much a part of zines for so many decades I just don't understand all this new concern with copyrights. Who can possibly create anything and follow it consistently? How can we ever tear down the walls of censorship with the minefield of copyrights blocking our path?