Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(May 1999)

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Subject: Re: copyright law vs. mailing list archives
From: John R Levine <johnl @ iecc . com>
Date: Tue, 11 May 1999 00:47:30 -0400 (EDT)
To: Jeff Wasilko <jeffw @ smoe . org>
Cc: List-Managers @ GreatCircle . COM
In-reply-to: <19990510194312 . E21433 @ smoe . org>

> Do mailing list archives have any protection against being held
> liable for copyright infringement?

I am not a lawyer, but I rarely let that stop me.

As you suspect, you're being shaken down, and the situation is nowhere near
as cut and dried as the letter claims it is.  The copies of the poem could
fall under the fair use exemption, particularly if people were commenting on
it, not just sending it in.  Even if it is infringing, it's not clear whether
you are the infringer or the people who sent the poem to the mailing list
are. And realistically, nobody's going to sue you for $200, which is what a
court would likely award.  I'd delete the messages with the poems from the
archive, and maybe write back.  I certainly wouldn't pay. 

The new Digital Millenium Copyright Act specifically exempts service
providers for liability for innocent infringement so long as you register
yourself with the copyright office.  Anyone who runs a web site with content
provided by others should consider registering.  See

John Levine, johnl @
 iecc .
 com, Primary Perpetrator of "The Internet for Dummies",
Information Superhighwayman wanna-be,, Sewer Commissioner
Finger for PGP key, f'print = 3A 5B D0 3F D9 A0 6A A4  2D AC 1E 9E A6 36 A3 47 

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