Here's an article about hyperlinks as "the new punctuation mark." I'm getting interested in how the web is changing, and has already changed, prose and narrative, and hyperlinking is the most obvious web-based advance, and probably the most important one, as it makes most of the others (video, audio) possible.
I was thinking, btw, of copyright issues. I remember when a friend wanted to use a popular country song as the epigraph of her novel, and she contacted the copyright holder (not the songwriter, actually, but a company-- made me think of how Lennon and McCartney lost control of their own lyrics and music). The company told her she could use the lyrics if she paid $800 and a 1% of the sales of the book. Even if her publisher would have agreed with that last part (it wouldn't-- 1% of the sales price is like 10% of the company's eventual profits from the book), she wasn't about to pay $800 for what would actually be free advertising for the song. So she wrote her own country song, just for the book.
But think about it. Recently I wrote a blog post about synopsis, and how it shouldn't be about the plot but about the whole story. (That's what our March class is about, btw-- described on the right there.) I wanted to make a graphic distinction of the difference between plot and story, and so I linked to a site with the sheet music of Ave Maria (plot) and a Youtube video of Pavarotti singing Ave Maria. So... does a link violate copyright laws? Or is that something Youtube can worry about and I don't have to? (I don't know, but if anyone's going to sue me, I'll take the links down. :)
Our articles and blog posts are frequently posted on other sites (sometimes with, sometimes without our permission), and sometimes there's just a link to our original. Of course, we prefer the latter, as it brings people to our site (not that this means much-- not like we charge or have ads). And it would never occur to me that there was anything wrong with someone putting a link to a post of ours in their own blog or article.
But I bet I would object if someone made a book that was composed primarily of lots of links to our articles and articles written by others-- "The Best Writing Advice Evuh Book!" At least, I'd probably object if the book's compiler made money from it. I don't want someone making money from something we give away for free, after all.
No great wisdom here. But I wonder if we're going to struggle with copyright issues forever now, or if that'll be resolved by people (I hope) smarter than I am.