Re: Quoting / forwarding

From: Stephen C. Carlson (
Date: Tue Aug 26 1997 - 21:18:22 EDT

At 05:57 8/26/97 -0500, Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>This is somewhat different here; what is really offensive is posting to the
>list private off-list correspondence. In a sense, what has been posted to
>the list is in the public domain and is accessible at the archives
>(although the archives have not been updated recently). I would certainly
>seek the consent of the original posters before forwarding the message or
>thread to another list, and I think it would be a courtesy to seek consent
>even for forwarding to friends, even if there is no strict protocol
>governing that case.

I would avoid characterizing on-list postings as "in the public domain"
even "in a sense," because the term has a specific meaning in copyright
law. A work "in the public domain" is a work whose copyright term has
expired or whose owner or owners have completely abandoned their rights
under the copyright laws. Although there is naturally some uncertainty
in the law for such a recent medium, the prudent course is to regard
mailing list messages and newsgroup postings as copyrighted material,
not dedicated to the public domain. Thus, any reproduction, public
distribution, or creation of derivative works not authorized by the
copyright owner constitutes a copyright infringement. "Fair use"
principles may apply, of course, in specific situations to excuse a
copyright infringement.

Another reason, outside of copyright, to seek the consent of a poster
before redistributing a message is to protect the reputation of the
poster. This list encourages a ready give-and-take in the exchange of
ideas, some of which have not been completely thought out or properly
nuanced as a published article ought to be. If one's postings were to
be redistributed outside of this context without opportunity for the
author to make corrections or clarifications, then there would be a
chilling effect upon those posters who are concerned about their
academic reputations (who not coincidentally are among the most
knowledgeable). I would rather participate in a climate that
encourages rather than discourages a free exchange of opinions.
Some of the most off-the-wall ideas (that would never see the light
of day if peer-reviewed) can be catalysts for new insights.

Stephen Carlson

Stephen C. Carlson                   : Poetry speaks of aspirations,              : and songs chant the words. :               -- Shujing 2.35

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:38:26 EDT