The following, posted recently to list owners, may be of more general
interest to the list.
This is one of our occasional "did-you-know" items for list owners - if
you'd like to suggest a topic for future posting please email me.
Previous messages covered long commands, sending attachments to lists, and
'=A3' characters in email and can be read in the email archives at:
COPYRIGHT OF EMAIL MESSAGES
Recently we've had some questions about the copyright of messages sent
to Mailbase lists, and this message should answer a few of the questions
and correct some common misapprehensions.
1. Copyright law stops other people from using and abusing your original work.
2. Email messages are creative works and therefore copyrighted.
3. All your email messages are copyrighted to you (or your employer)
4. You do not have to register this copyright - it exists automatically.
5. When you post to a public list you do not lose copyright,
but your message may be:
- forwarded to other lists
- quoted by others
6. Messages sent to a list should not be:
- quoted out of context
- changed or reworded
1. What is copyright?
If you are the author or maker of an original creative work, copyright
law gives you the right to exclude others from using your work in
certain ways. You should be able to control who makes copies, or
creates a work derived from yours.
2. What can be copyrighted?
You can claim copyright on your own CREATIVE and ORIGINAL work once it
exists in a written or otherwise tangible format.
Anything you write whether in English or C++, will be a creative work,
as will anything you photograph, or draw. Email messages, handwritten
notes, books, computer programs and webpages are all creative works and
they are all protected by copyright.
3. How do you register copyright?
Copyright exists automatically from the moment that a creative work is
given tangible form - as in a webpage or email message. It does not need
to be registered.
4. Who owns the copyright?
The first owner of the copyright is the author, except where the work is
made by an employee in the course of their employment, in which case the
employer is the first owner. So, if you are sending email in the course
of your work, your employer may be the owner of the copyright on your
But Mailbase does not own the copyright of messages sent to our lists,
and nor does the list administrator.
5. Messages posted to public lists - Implied Licence (what is allowed)
Sending a message to a public discussion list has been compared to
sending a letter to the editor of a newsletter. This would be
regarded as intended for publication (an implied licence) unless there
was clear evidence to the contrary.
When you send a message to a PUBLIC discussion list, you should be
o Other members of the list may keep a copy of the message,
o The message may be archived on a website,
o The message may be forwarded to other interested parties,
o Parts of the message may be quoted in discussion.
This is implicitly allowed, reasonable use of a mailing list and to the
benefit of all list members. It does not mean that you lose copyright.
6. Messages posted to public lists - Moral Rights
When you send a message to a public discussion list certain "moral rights"
apply. Although your message may be widely disseminated, you have a right
to expect the following:
o The message is not changed or reworded if forwarded.
(Messages sent to a closed mailing list or to an individual should
never be forwarded without the author's permission.)
o Your message is not quoted out of context.
It is possible to quote, or misquote, part of a message in such
a way that it misleads people and damages the reputation of the
o Attribution is given to the author.
The name of the original sender should always be acknowledged.
o Any appended copyright notice is respected.
7. Some Further Information
Some information on UK copyright law is available from the
Copyright Licensing Agency (http://www.cla.co.uk/)
10 Big Myths about copyright explained
(http://www.clari.net/brad/copymyths.html) answers some common questions,
with particular regard to USENET postings (US law)
Bronwen Reid, Mailbase, Computing Service, University of Newcastle, NE1 7RU
Tel: (0191) 222-8214 Email: [log in to unmask]