Who owns complete Metafilter threads? November 5, 2001 10:12 AM   Subscribe

Lets assume some one out there believes a particular Mefi thread can potentially have value in other media (eg, TV script, syndicated column, book, etc) I undersatnd authors own their own posts (if I read Mefi correctly) but who legally owns the complete thread? Am I thinking about this correctly?
posted by Voyageman to MetaFilter-Related at 10:12 AM (12 comments total)

ianal, of course, but i think the answer to your question is no-one. if you wanted to use the posts of a thread for commercial use, you would have to have the permission of each post author (i suppose you could exclude some authors if you chose not to consider/show their work)...
posted by moz at 10:16 AM on November 5, 2001

I think Voyageman was talking about comments. Frankly, i'm not sure of the answer. I suggest that one of yoos go to law school, do better than I did, and then report back the answer.. My guess is it's public domain unless you somehow tag what you submit with a copyright declaration. But don't worry: even my comments will never make it to the big, or little screen. Or a Stephen King novel.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:34 PM on November 5, 2001

paris: i was also talking about comments. my understanding was that whatever you write is implicitly copyrighted, but i could easily be wrong.
posted by moz at 12:35 PM on November 5, 2001

And if you take a look at Matt's media list you'll see a lot of print sources at least see anything written on the net as fair game...
posted by feelinglistless at 12:43 PM on November 5, 2001

was that whatever you write is implicitly copyrighted, but i could easily be wrong.

Not in the USA

posted by ParisParamus at 1:22 PM on November 5, 2001

Yes, but in your wildest dreams, which thread would make the greatest movie? Heh heh, I know of at least one... Tentative title: "Fantasy in Grey".
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:22 PM on November 5, 2001

Not in the USA


Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created the work. Only the author or those deriving their rights through the author can rightfully claim copyright.

The use of a copyright notice is no longer required under U. S. law, although it is often beneficial. Because prior law did contain such a requirement, however, the use of notice is still relevant to the copyright status of older works.

posted by snarkout at 2:22 PM on November 5, 2001

Paris, what you say used to be true, but it changed when the US adopted the Berne Convention. Copyright is now implicit and automatic and universal even without an explicit notice of copyright.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 5:38 PM on November 5, 2001

Paris says: I stand corrected. So much for Albany Law School, Class of 1989....
posted by ParisParamus at 8:00 PM on November 5, 2001

That explains it. The US became part of the Berne convention in 1989 -- everything you learned was instantly obsolete...
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:31 PM on November 5, 2001

There's another level of copyright here that Matt has never really addressed, as far as I know. In anthologies, better known as works made up of other copyrighted works, there is a separate ownership of the collection. This refers to all the posts in a row. Matt presumably owns that, whether or not he has explicitly claimed it or not.

Why this is important? Let's say I edit a book with articles by X, Y, and Z. They each agree to being included in the book, but retain their copyright (they don't sell it to me outright, they just licence my one use).

If you come along later, even if you also agree with X, Y, and Z on rights to the same articles, publishing them together would breach my copyright on the collection as a whole - you'd need my OK in addition to theirs. (which of course you could have).
posted by mikel at 2:08 PM on November 6, 2001

mikel: so you're saying that along with the permission of everyone who commented in the thread, you would also need matt's permission (regardless of whether or not he commented in the thread)?
posted by rorycberger at 11:48 PM on November 6, 2001

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