Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(August 1995)

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Subject: Re: Unauthorized copying of posts
From: Lazlo Nibble <lazlo @ swcp . com>
Date: Mon, 28 Aug 1995 08:55:34 -0600 (MDT)
To: list-managers @ greatcircle . com (lm)

> Aside from the fact that I don't think the US joining the Berne
> Convention has any legal status outside the US...

The Berne Convention has legal status in every country that's a signatory to
the Berne Convention.  I believe Terry Carroll's Copyright FAQ has a list of
who is and who isn't; most industrialized nations *are* signatories.

> there is a great deal of ambiguity in the situation regarding the
> copyrighting of posts.  For one thing, who owns the copyright?  The
> poster or the list owner?

The creator of a work automatically holds copyright on that work as soon as
it's created.  Unless this copyright is specifically renounced or assigned 
to someone else, it's held by the creator.

> I know at least one list owner who claims copyright over material
> appearing on his lists no matter what the posters say.

In the absence of a legally-binding agreement to that effect, he's blowing

> While I sympathize with anyone who feels that their material is being
> used improperly after being posted, there seems to be a practice of fair
> usage developing that is similar to the use of printed material in
> academic and scientific circles.

I assume from this statement that you're not aware that the unauthorized
reproduction of copyrighted materials has recently resulted in successful
lawsuits in both academic and scientific circles.  Reproducing an entire
article or chapter from a journal or textbook without permission is not
"fair use", as companies like Texaco and Kinko's have discovered.

> So long as material is honestly and fully attributed, I don't think that
> many people see a problem.

Except for the copyright holders, who are the only people whose opinion 

> If people don't want their material publicly disseminated, they should
> avoid posting it to the Internet.

In my opinion, this is a cop-out.  Copyright law covers electronic media just
like it covers any other medium.  The fact that something is available on the
Usenet or the Internet doesn't mean you have the right to do anything you
like with it.

(Just so everyone knows when I'm coming from, I make my copyrighted
material available the Internet, so I have a personal stake in this
discussion.  So far I haven't had to sic the lawyers on anyone for
misappropiating my work, but I've come close twice, and expect I'll probably
have to actually file a lawsuit eventually.)

::: Lazlo (lazlo @
 swcp .

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