Client misunderstanding of public domain

Subject: Client misunderstanding of public domain
From: Traci Pearson <pearsontechcomm -at- comcast -dot- net>
To: writers-bwa -at- yahoogroups -dot- com,techcomm-discuss -at- stcrmc -dot- org, techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2007 19:22:23 -0600

I've got a client who insists that I use content
that is posted on the Web in a manual I'm doing
for them. Not only that, they want me to edit the
content to match the style of their manual.

The writer of the content on the Web is someone
they know and, apparently, he said they could use
his manual (what he has posted on the web) to
give to their (my client's) customers if they wanted.

I told my client they'd better get express
permission, preferably in writing, to actually
use that content in their own manual (which will
have my client's copyright on it) as well as permission to edit that content.

One of their (my client's) managers said, No,
they don't have to. It's posted on the Internet
and therefore it is now "public property."

Obviously, this isn't so. But my notes from my
Law classes are buried in the basement and I
can't remember the Act that spells this out.
(And, honestly, there's probably been new laws
that spell this out since I took those notes!)

Can anyone help me out here? I don't want to get
into a moral/ethical/legal issue here with my
client, so I'd like to point them to a source
where they can read for themselves that Internet
content is by no means necessarily public domain.


Traci Pearson
Pearson Technical Communication
Writing, Editing, Information Design ? Print and Online
pearsontechcomm -at- comcast -dot- net
(303) 410-9101

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great effort went into its writing.
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