Steve Simmons wrote:
> firstname.lastname@example.org (Alan Czarnek) writes:
> >Suppose you are particpating in a particularly profound group
> >discussion and one member takes the posts from the group, including
> >your verbatim messages, and publishes them in book form. The book
> >becomes a best seller and the person who took all your work makes
> >millions, and you get nothing.
> >That might be OK with you, but if that happened to me, I would be
> >steamed. As far as I am concerned, that would be theft, and that is
> >why we have copyright laws.
> It would absolutely *be* theft. By the Berne Convention, unless you
> explicitly renounce copyright you own the reproduction right on everything
> you write.
Except for the mouldy old question of exactly what rights you have
exercised by publishing the material on the Net, and exactly how far
that exercise extends in finding the limits of online publication.
Mailing list message -> FTP archive -> CD-ROM -> Book
Usenet article -> DejaNews -> CD-ROM -> Book
The first cases are obvious; you have directly posted a message to a
list or a newsgroup -- no copyright issue there. A list archive or news
archive is, in some ways, similar to a site that keeps things around for
longer than the normal expiration policy, and (possibly) opens them to
the public. (A possible distinction could be made for the "limited"
publication to a small list, vs. "general" publication in a newsgroup,
but I'm not sure of any legal difference.)
What about CD-ROMs and books? How do they differ from online archives?
If DejaNews or a list archive site is not theft, why would a book be?
Most of us have a sort of gut feeling about the difference, but there's
no reason to believe that it would be convincing in a court of law, or,
more frighteningly, that all courts interpreting their own national
copyright law (in the light of the Berne Convention, assuming they are
members) would come to the same conclusion.
My two favourite words in talking about copyright law on the Net are
"probably" and "maybe." :-)
Michael C. Berch
(who is, alas, a lawyer, among other things)
email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org