Re. Copyright of techwr-l postings

Subject: Re. Copyright of techwr-l postings
From: geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA
Date: Mon, 15 Apr 1996 08:32:41 -0500

Matt Danda asked about protocol for quoting messages posted
on this list. A few thoughts:

1. Electronic copyrights does not yet have a large body of
legal precedent. Although it seems likely that _written_
messages are automatically copyrighted, just like any other
written material, there is also a strong possibility that
e-mail postings will be treated by some uninformed judge as
equivalent to public conversation... uncopyrighted and thus
quotable at will. (I don't agree with this philosophy, but
the possibility is real nonetheless.)

2. "Fair use" suggests that you can quote just about
anything without asking so long as you provide an
attribution and honor the spirit of the original statement,
but fair use also limits the amount of material you quote
to a small portion of the original... thus, you probably
can't simply quote an entire message based on fair use.

3. You can paraphrase anyone, or summarize their writing,
anytime, without permission. But if you misinterpret and
thereby damage the person's reputation, you're legally
liable to some extent. You also can't simply change
adjectives and claim that you're paraphrasing instead of
quoting... _you_ have to provide substantial intellectual
input into creating a paraphrase.

Summary: When in doubt, ask, and if you can't get
permission, don't use the material. Simple courtesy, and
simple self-defence too.

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Disclaimer: Speaking for myself, not FERIC.

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