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Content from Usenet

Anyone using it, is it legal.



1:32 am on Apr 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator mack is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I want to include some info from usenet on one of my sites but have heald back because I don't fully understand the legal position on this.

Technichaly they are copyright material of the author, but are then now in the public domain because they have been passed into usenet?

Can they still be used as web content even if they are copyright because of the nature of the release. For example someone posts to a newsgroup, It then ends up being coppied to thousands of news servers.

The legal situation on this appears to be a very grey area.

Any ideas.



3:48 am on Apr 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

The process of copying posts to additional news servers doesn't affect their copyright status. Automated electronic reproduction of that type occurs all the time, sometimes more obviously than others.

As far as I can tell, the copyright to USENET posts belongs to the individual author. I suppose this could be modified by explicit statement by the author or by the TOS of a particular newsgroup. A little Googling will give you a variety of resources on USENET and copyrights.


9:37 am on Apr 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The copyright in the individual posts remains with the original author - this could not be assigned without written instrument. The question is what type of license have they released the post under.

In the absence of a ToS/agreement, it is arguable that the poster has given an implied license for the posts to be retained within, and distributed across the USENET system, only.

This implied license would not allow extracting the posts (other than fair use) from the USENET system and using them elsewhere, unless you were setting up your own news server or a large archive, etc (i.e. you were joining the system).

The authors of the individual posts could take some action against someone who used such posts outside of the USENET system.

I don't think the argument that they were put into the public domain would work.


10:38 am on Apr 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Public accessibility does not equate to public rights to reproduce and distribute.


11:25 am on Apr 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Not a "grey area at all "....

The copyright belongs with the author ...

You can't use it without their written ( to you personally or corporately ) consent......

The internet is not " Public domain " ...

it is

"Publically accessible" ..........

like an art gallery is ..

...so although you can access someones server and thence their pages ....you can't do what you like with what you see there .........such as photograph the pictures and reproduce them elsewhere ....without breaking the law


4:51 pm on Apr 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

In general, implied licenses can be problematic, it's always wise to remember:
(a) if you host content provided by other parties (e.g. forums), you have a clear ToS/license available;
(b) if you provide content to a system, either read the ToS or be aware of the nature of an implied license (e.g. you likely don't have a right to revoke the content once you have provided it);
(c) if you use content from such places, you need to understand the ToS/license, or in the absence, have to "discover" what the nature of the implied license was at the time the content was submitted to be aware of exactly how it can be used;
Many problems and court cases have occured in these types of circumstances where there is no license, and typically the court has to try and infer it from evidence.


5:18 am on Apr 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'm going to go out on a limb here, and suggest reading the FAQ [templetons.com]. That's what people on Usenet would do.


1:46 pm on Apr 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

there is no grey area

when I make a post to Usenet I am publishing the content to newsservers and Usenet archives, and nothing else...I expect to bes asked before people quote a snippet I've posted in their signature...if I find material I've posted being used on the web for commercial gain (and that includes being placed ony any site that has advertisements) without my express permission, then I may well choose to take action...some of the subjects I make posts on are going to be covered by my own web site...they are offered to the Usenet community in return for the advice and help I've found there...they are not published for parasites to steal

not meaning you, Mack, you've asked about whether it's OK...but far too many people seem to assume that they can simply ignore all copyright restrictions and never actually bother to do any original thinking for themselves


2:55 pm on Apr 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

> I expect to bes asked before people quote a snippet I've posted in their signature.

FWIW it is likely, depending on the quality and quantity of the material they have used, that people can quote you like this without your permission, even if you disagree with them: this is statutory "fair use". I agree with you in general though.

Just a note. In the case of USENET, this is not grey, but in other cases it could be. Either way, for someone such as the poster who is clearly not well versed in IPR, this can be unknown territory.


3:31 pm on Apr 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

If the copyright belongs to the person who wrote the post, how can Google Groups display all of Usenet without explicit permission?


4:00 pm on Apr 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Because Google has ``joined`` the NETNEWS system (USENET is the wrong term, my apologies - it is really the predecessor of NETNEWS and refers more to the late ARPANET period prior to the great renaming) just as if it is a server within the system and thus fits into the original contributers implied licensing agreement.

When you post an article to NETNEWS ``system``, your implied license arguably includes the case that if new servers join into the system, then you've consented to your articles being copied and distributed into those new servers. Equally, the implied license has no temporal restrictions in it, so long term storage (indefinite!) storage is allowable. The low-tech NETNEWS features do not include any technical mechanisms or finer grained rights-management-information mechanisms that allow you specialise the license. For example, if you write in your signature "licensed for use on this local news server only", then that's just going to be ineffective because the technical mechanisms cannot interpret that and make it happen, and you could never litigate another NETNEWS server for failing to uphold the terms because the courts would throw it out on the basis that the operators and owners have no control over individual articles as such, and the system is just not designed for such cases.

This consent you gave in your implied license at time of posting does not extend to allowing another party to extract particular articles and use them for another purpose. However, there are some tricky and hairy areas: e.g. what if a commercial NETNEWS provider starts making profit on selling the news service? what if someone provides a NETNEWS service that keyword enhances the content of your articles for advertising revenue?

Note that Google Groups also allows you to remove your own articles if you can demonstrate that you were the original author. This is a kind of a goodwill by them that would help reduce level of complaint (or, in fact, may be necessary in some countries such as France, the original copyright holder does have the power of revocation, but not in other countries such as UK and US).


11:14 pm on Apr 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Yeah, do note that AdSense ads do not show up on usenet postings in Google.

Though you'd think the subject line would be included in the copyright..



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