Who Owns the Words?

Mike Godwin mnemonic at eff.org
Thu Mar 10 09:36:05 PST 1994

Arthur writes:

>    A dilemma: if you are writing a paper, and you want to quote someone's
> posted (say, to cypherpunks) remarks, what are the obligations?
>    1) None: by posting, people make their words public domain.
>    2) No legal obligations, but it would be polite to ask permission.
>    3) Whatever is posted is de facto copyright, and the person whose
> words you took could sue you for breach of copyright.

(3) is closest to the truth. You can still quote someone within Fair Use
guidelines, however.

>    Now let's shift to a MOO or IRC:
>    You keep a log of a conversation.  Would the same rules/customs apply
> if you wanted to include that log in a paper? 


>    Does it matter if the conversation was held in a private room or in a
> public place on the MOO?


>    Does it matter whether the paper is written to fulfill a class
> assignment or is intended for publication in a for-profit magazine?

Yes. The former poses no copyright problems.


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