Environmental Ethics
and Public Policy
Ernest Partridge, Ph.D

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Lecture Topics

Conscience of a Progressive
    (A Book in Progress)

A Dim View of Libertarianism

Rawls and the Duty to Posterity
    (Doctoral Dissertation)

The Ecology Project

For Environmental Educators

The Russian Environment

    (Critiques of Post Modernism)

Notes from the Brink
    (Peace Studies)

The Gadfly's Bio Sketch

The Gadfly's Publications

The Online Gadfly: Editorial Policy

The Gadfly's E-Mail: gadfly@igc.org

Classical Guitar:
"The Other Profession





The Online Gadfly
deliberately violates numerous rules of "smart" web-meistering.  Most obviously, this site is text-heavy and graphics-lite.  Because we hesitate to make bold pronouncements without the benefit of evidence and argument, our articles generally run to a length that is unstylish among web-publishers.  We'd like to believe that many of you download and even print out some of these papers for unhurried and critical attention off-line.  The papers have no animated titles, navigation bars, or other such filigree, believing that you might prefer the luxury of a screen full of text and empty of distractions.  Moreover, as experienced "surfers" are well aware, graphics significantly "stall" the downloading of web pages.

Put simply, we've offered you a "thinking-person's website," and by so doing we are displaying our curmudgeonly resistance to "info-tainment" and "edu-tainment."  To those of you have returned for more, consider yourselves flattered.

That much said, we will also acknowledge that we have a great deal to learn about web-writing and web-design and, as we explore the capabilities of this more powerful software, we will cautiously move toward a more visual and browser-friendly format.   But as this site evolves, we will never lose sight of our "prime directive:" The Online Gadfly is about ideas and opinions, supported by evidence and argument.  And all these are best conveyed through structured and linear thought processes -- i.e., through carefully weighed and articulated words.

We freely offer materials with our copyright for educational use, with only these provisos:  (a) that the materials be credited to the author, Ernest Partridge, and (b) that this author be notified of these adoptions.  However, we also ask you to be mindful that not all these materials bear our copyright, as we have in some cases been obliged to yield our copyrights to publishers.  Finally, we would appreciate (but do not require) inclusion of the name of this site, "The Online Gadfly," and our URL: www.igc.org/gadfly


 The Gadfly has never turned down a royalty check. Thus it ill-behooves him to freely gather and publish, without permission, the work of others. Besides which, such conduct is illegal.

And yet . . .

Copyright law is a tangle of vagueness, ambiguity, and contradiction -- a realm with fuzzy boundaries, and with uncharted and disputed territories, further complicated by the appearance of a brand-new mode of publication: cyberspace.

To change the metaphor, one might imagine a continuum. On one extreme there are "slam-dunk" restrictions -- e.g., plagiarism (taking personal credit for another's work, whether copyrighted or public domain), or using extensive copyrighted material without permission for monetary gain. On the other extreme are obvious cases of public domain, including ancient texts (e.g. the Bible and Shakespeare) and common-use phrases. (Yet even here, some caution is in order. Did you know, for example, that the song "Happy Birthday to You..." is still in copyright?)

It is the "middle ground" that give writers and publishers fits. The boundaries of "fair use" in scholarly works are notoriously vague. And what if one sends a newspaper clipping of Paul Krugman's column or a Doonesbury cartoon to Aunt Sophie? What of those unpublished "one-pagers" of uncertain origin that are found on office doors and bulletin boards on every campus in the realm?  Few would take issue with such practices. After all, in such cases "the folk process" is often hard at work, as these little gems move and evolve from office to office and from campus to campus.

However, an office door is one thing, but a web site is another. Or is it?  The Gadfly believes that there is a difference, and apparently quite a few lawyers and courts agree. Our personal newsletter, The Sporadical Gadfly, was printed at personal expense and distributed free of charge to our Northland College colleagues and to a few personal friends ("circulation" less than 100). We regarded it as little more than an extension of our office door, and thus included cartoons and column excerpts that we would not for a moment think of including, without permission, on this site.

Still, we've found a couple of items to be irresistible. Why these, while the others remain out of bounds and in our files? 

Some items come to us with no indication of the original source. In such cases, we make a good-faith effort to locate the author only to find  that our immediate source (usually from the e-mail) was likewise unaware of the original source. Furthermore, if we ever do locate an author, we will only post these items with his or her permission. Beyond that, we proceed on the assumption that such "one pagers" are written and distributed as 100% bonafide "larks" -- as freely offered moments of levity, which the creators gave to the world for the sweet Hell of it, with both the hope and expectation that these items would evolve and circulate on their own merits. In our own career, we have also tossed out such pieces, with just such hopes and expectations. We believe that if the heavy hand of copyright laws extend to office doors and e-mail attachments, far more will be lost to spontaneity and innocent entertainment, than would be gained through legal enforcement.

This policy defines the far limits of our testing of copyright restrictions. If and when we are advised by informed legal opinion to pull back, we will do so at once. In the meantime, we will continue to study the letter of that law. In fact, we did so by contacting the excellent public-service web site of Attorney Benedict O'Mahoney at www.benedict.com. Unfortunately, while lucid and extensive, the site gave us no clear instruction regarding "office-door one-pagers."

The aforementioned is our policy regarding brief, unpublished, anonymous items -- subject (as we said) to revision. Regarding works by The Gadfly (cf. "The Gadfly Papers" on this site), we claim full protection of the Copyright laws. Accordingly, as you may have noticed, we have added copyright notices ("Copyright, [date], by Ernest Partridge") to all our papers.  We do so, not to discourage distribution, but to avoid plagiarism.

We freely offer materials  with our copyright for classroom use, with only these provisos:  (a) that the materials be credited to the author, Ernest Partridge, (b) that they include the source URLs, (c) that they include the copyright notice, and (d) that this author be notified of these adoptions.  However, we also ask educators to be mindful that not all these materials bear our copyright, as we have in some cases been obliged to yield our copyrights to publishers.  Income-producing use of our copyrighted material requires our permission and possibly a royalty fee.  


Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, "The Online Gadfly" (www.igc.org/gadfly) and co-edits the progressive website, "The Crisis Papers" (www.crisispapers.org).  Dr. Partridge can be contacted at: gadfly@igc.org .