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Re: feedback on intellectual rights and ethics

Nov 13, 1997 07:15 AM
by Eldon B Tucker


>>   Posting something to a mailing list is effectively submitting an
>>   article to a magazine. The author has implicitly given copyright
>>   to the list to publish the work. That includes the initial posting,
>>   the quoting in replies, and the inclusion of the piece in the
>>   list archives. 

>I find it impossible to agree with this proposition, as a mailing list,
>by definition, is sent to all the subscribers to that list.  To try to
>exercise the kind of control suggested in your complete post would make
>an unmoderated mailing list unworkable, as we would all have to
>continually ask each other for permission to quote each other when
>replying or commenting on postings which are, by intent (so far as
>theos-l and ti-l are concerned, I am certain) intended to promote
>discussion, comment, and a general openness among all subscribers.

You misunderstand my statement. I think I say elsewhere in the same
message that quoting and replying to messages posted on a list is
part of the publication of that list, which is something fine to do.

Some lists are quite specific about reposting not being allowed,
like the arcana list, which I was on for a while a couple of years
ago. In the USA, the author retains rights to their works regardless
of whether they add a copyright notice. 

I'd see the need for permission existing when someone's writings
are taken out-of-context, being placed on lists or newsgroups
that they weren't writing on. It's fairly easy to ask someone if
they're online, if it's ok to repost on another list.

I compare a mailing list to a magazine because the postings go
to a well-defined audience chosen by the author. And the
postings are in the context of the discussions going on in that
list. Someone writes for a magazine because of its audience and
its other content.

When someone writes an article for a magazine, they've given the
magazine the right to use the article *as part of an integral 
whole*. Within the context of the magazine, the article may be
used in any manner. Apart from the magazine, as a separate
piece or as a part of something else, like another magazine,
the rights still belong to the author. Permission is needed
of the author, for instance, for the article to be printed 
on its own or to reprinted in another magazine. The exception is
short excerpts in critical reviews.

I see a direct analogy between the above -- which is the current
copyright law in America, as I understand it -- with
mailing lists.

>So - for the record - as far as I am concerned, all my postings to
>theos-l and ti-l are to be considered as being freely available to the
>public at large, and may be freely quoted, in whole or in part, as is
>also the case with some of my writings on the website below.

That's good to know. But because you choose to put all your writings
into the public domain does not mean that it's right to treat the
writings of others as being in the public domain. That choice is
made by the individual writer. 

-- Eldon

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