Re: Sea Lawyers & Copycats

Subject: Re: Sea Lawyers & Copycats
From: John Hedtke <jhedtke -at- OZ -dot- NET>
Date: Wed, 13 Mar 1996 02:35:39 GMT

Guy McDonald <guym -at- daka -dot- com> wrote:

>"With this protection in mind, requesting permission to re-post or
>re-publish someone's mail message is not only good manners
>but also legally necessary."
>This is a bunch of rubbish.
>I take umbrage with:

>"any email you send to someone else is your property, and the recipient can
>only use it in ways consistent with your wishes" (Cavasos & Gavino, p. 56).

>Thank you.

>Guy McDonald
>guym -at- daka -dot- com

Briefly, I agree with that which Guy has said. As someone who has
successfully pursued someone who plagiarized one of my books (and
nailed them financially to the barn door for it), I'd like to add a
few comments of potential clarification for the pecksniffs who're
concerned about their copyright.

1. Copyright does really exist the instant the letters hit the page
or the hard disk in your name as the creator... but in the eyes of the
law, so what? If you're dealing with an unregistered copyright, you
can indeed take someone to court for plagiarism, but you would then
have prove that someone didn't quote you and give your words credit
(which most emails do, it seems) and much more importantly, that you
suffered financial loss as a result of the defendant's actions. Gee,
I think that that moots the question of "My email's mine and you can't
use it, neener, neener, neener!" rather neatly. If you're concerned
about it, you need to prove that it's worth something.

2. Now, if you really *DO* think that your pristine prose is good for
something financial (and if so, why in Gawd's name are you posting it
promiscuously on the Net rather than in print?), then you should get a
REGISTERED copyright (forms available from the Library of Congress.
This permits you to go after infringers and, without proving damages,
obtain statutory damages of up to $20,000. This is where copyright
has teeth. But it's very possible that putting information on the net
in a newsgroup (and certainly without a copyright declaration) is
going to invalidate your claim.

Bottom line: this is for casual communications and exchange of ideas.
If you're worried about what you put on the Net getting used
elsewhere, consider another venue of expression. Things in print take
on a life of their own, and considering that this stuff is going out
over the world, I hardly think that you're going to be able to control
it effectively. Even if you tell 'em it's Copyright 1996, All Rights

Yours Truly,

John Hedtke
(who doesn't care much who quotes this message)
This is not a legal opinion; it's just an opinion. Your mileage may

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