Tractor Big Year: What is “fair use”?

Tractor Big Year is me doing an hour of work every afternoon on the nitty gritty planning preparatory to publishing/producing/making my damned book when it is ready. Why do this? First, in this era of digitization, this is a fascinating topic. Second, being ready is efficient. Third, it motivates drafting.

So . . . a first issue is something I’ve never thought about before. Attempting to bring history alive, I’ll be quoting others – participants in history, commentators, other historians – as often as I can. But I can’t quote willy-nilly. When do I have to ask for permission and when might it not be necessary? In the United States, a concept that reigns is that of “fair use,” which sounds logical but how the heck do you apply it?

Brianna Schofield and Robert Walker of the Author’s Alliance have written (108-pages as a PDF) what might be a most useful guide: “Fair Use for Nonfiction Authors.” Do I need to get copyright clearance each time I quote?They say: “In some situations, unlicensed use may be legally permitted by virtue of the “fair use” doctrine, a well-known (but oft-misunderstood) limitation to copyright in the United States.”

In I dive . . .


Freshness Big Year: A slightly faster tortoise

This Big Year shows restraint with physical exercise, the focus being on steadiness, week by week, and a desire for “better” energy. In practice, my jogging could get boring, so the other day, needing to only run 5 kms instead of 10, I laced up my Brooks Beasts, walked down to the flat river path, and attempted some speed.

I flew! Well, I didn’t, but compared to my normal slow speed, I was moving. Over my 5 kms, I managed a pace of 5:53 per kilometer. It’s been many years since I got so far under 6:00. Such fun!

I always knew “work-life balance” was nonsense . . .

Here’s Debbie Millman (designer, host of the Design Matters blog):

“I do not believe in work-life balance. I believe that if you view your work as a calling, it is a labor of love rather than laborious. When your work is a calling, you are not approaching the amount of hours you are working with a sense of dread or counting the minutes until the weekend. Your calling can become a life-affirming engagement that can provide its own balance and spiritual nourishment. Ironically, it takes hard work to achieve this. When you are in your 20s and 30s and want to have a remarkable, fulfilling career, you must work hard. If you don’t work harder than everyone else, you will not get ahead. Further, if you are looking for work-life balance in your 20s or 30s, you are likely in the wrong career. If you are doing something you love, you don’t want work-life balance.”

To an obsessive like me, there’s nothing strange about her view at all!

1000 Big Year: Constructing a new day . . .

In building a new “standard day,” some sparkling new bricks can be mortared on with ready ease – an evening alarm to encourage sleep patterns, a brief (ten minutes) moment of stillness, a habit of daily exercise. Other bricks – a morning alarm, instilling afternoon productivity, diverting a little time into book production – are yet to be successfully laid. Patience required, Andres.

(Photo by on Unsplash)