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Re: Copyright law (off topic)

I checked with a lawyer friend.  There is (according to her) no such thing
as "automatic copyright".  Copyright must be applied for and certified.
Nothing you write or print is copyrighted unless you go through this
process.  If you steal material that is not copyrighted, you may be guilty
of plagiarism, which, however, is an ethical breach, not a crime.

If you send a letter to another person, it becomes the property of that
person and they may do with it what they wish (so long as you did not
copyright the letter first).  I suspect this applies to Internet
communications as well.

When I write an article for a scientific journal or a magazine, I must
assign my copyright "rights" to them--allowing them to copyright the
material and limiting my rights in it to what they agree to allow.
However, some commercial writers copyright their own material.  Publishers
are not particularly fond of this idea.

Libel is an entirely different issue.  It has nothing to do with copyright.
Copyright or not, you may not publish (in the broad sense) defamatory
information about another person, with malicious intent.   Lawyers can make
a good living working on the definitions of "defamatory" and "malicious."
Slander, of course, is the same thing spoken aloud.

My lawyer friend says--"This is not intended as legal advice.  Do not act
on this information, but consult your own lawyer."

This thread is definitely off topic!

Best wishes, Bill
William A. Shear
Department of Biology
Hampden-Sydney College
Hampden-Sydney VA 23943 USA
phone (804) 223-6172
FAX (804) 223-6374

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