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Postscript: Who Owns The Hellmouth Posts? 314

A discussion follows on why the messages in "Voices From The Hellmouth" should be published as they are, and why they were chosen. These messages were meant to be heard. They are the right ones. They shouldn't be edited, excluded or silenced, especially not here. (By JonKatz & CmdrTaco)

To me, the moral imperative of the Hellmouth series has always been simple: get these stories out to a wider audience. That's what they were sent.

There are countless victims of a tragedy like Columbine. First, and certainly foremost, there were the 12 kids and a teacher who were slain. Secondly, there were the two emotionally disturbed kids who killed them, and then took their own lives. And finally, there were the many thousands of individualistic, interesting and sometimes-alienated kids who have suffered from the post-Columbine hysteria.

Their stories are familiar to anyone who read the Hellmouth series, or who has been following the epidemic of suspensions, expulsions, arrests, forced counseling sessions, social abuse and suspicion, and nightmare creations like Pinkerton's "WAVE America" program, an anonymous hotline on which kids are encouraged to turn in peers they consider dangerous or violent.

In the days after Columbine, many of those new victims sent messages to Slashdot, in the hopes of finding an outlet for their experiences -- since schools, the media and politicians were giving them no voice. We can't count exactly how many messages were sent this way, some posted here, others e-mailed directly to me, while many messagers were unable to get onto the site. But my best guess is close to 20,000.

In a handful of cases, posters asked for anonymity, or that their messages not ever be passed along. Those requests were, of course, honored. But as perhaps the only person who read all the messages, that got through, and that I received, I am confident about their spirit and intent, both literally and figuratively. Those people wanted to get their stories out. They sent their messages in the hopes of reaching beyond their own lives and schools and into mainstream media, educational and political circles. The Hellmouth posts are unique. They belong in the public domain. In fact, they cry out to be there.

The overwhelming majority of these kids and adults came from outside of the Slashdot community. They perceived Slashdot as a place where messages get out, where they could speak freely, where information is shared and distributed. They asked that I do everything possible to see that their words and perspectives and pleas and stories reach journalists, educators and parents. None of them were particularly aware of or interested in the many internicine issues and conflicts that characterize a site like this. They were not conventional posters to Slashdot's Threads.

So I have worked to be faithful to those requests. In these kid's lives, a year is a long, sometimes painful time. Lots of these kids have stayed in touch. Many have moved, gone on to college, switched computers or ISP's, changed their technological lives or personal interests. Many, of course, were young, complicating the posting issues still further.

Although I didn't select the messages in this about-to-be published collection, (Since I am legally under contract to another book publisher, I couldn't directly participate in the production of the book, and I also thought it would be better to have a more detached eye) I've read them. The selections were brilliant. They are the right ones, and they are powerful.

My belief and recommendation was this: the safest, fairest and most effective way to deal with publishing excerpts from the outpouring was to select the most powerful and universal posts, strip them of identifying name or e-mail addresses (some of them are young, some messages to them might be intercepted by parents or siblings, and the Net can be hostile) and publish the strongest, most representative excerpts. To do anything else, in my opinion, would be arbitrary and unfair, because:

- Messages shouldn't be excluded just because the posters were young, or had moved or switched ISP's.

-Messages should be chosen for their content, not availability.

Inclusion in the book shouldn't be part of a negotiating process, but on the basis of merit.

-All of the posted messages -- including some e-mailed to me -- were clearly sent with the intent of being seen. People wanted to have some impact on the post-Columbine hysteria.

Many people in this community have raised all sorts of questions about my motives (the accusations included profiteering, self-promotion, exploitation, opportunism, among others), and about idea ownership, and some proprietary questions about including posts. Many of these concerns are perfectly valid, others ironically coming from people who routinely download music, videos, software and other information and pass along opinions, columns and stories without a second thought, or even as a matter or principle.

Fact is, I've never been prouder to have my name on any book. I hope it's published in a timely fashion. I hope it's supported and widely read.

One of the problems with the eruption of hate-mail Friday (I define hate mail as a message with the word "hate" in it, or a message sent for the sole purpose of personal attack or injury) is that it often obscures genuine issues, and the posts that raised intelligent and important questions. That was the case in the response following the announcement that "Voices From The Hellmouth" was going to be published.

These issues, while valid, raise the risk of obscuring the point: The Hellmouth messages urgently need to be disseminated; they deserve to be heard. Don't do to these kids what so many journalists, administrators, parents and others have done -- shut them up.

Where possible, it's perfectly valid to try to reach individuals and get their permission -- believe me, that will not be a problem. In every case, e-mail addresses should be stripped and only the poster's initials used. But messages ought not be kept from the book simply because a poster was unreachable. These messages are the right ones.

That unrelated issues ought not delay the publication of the book by a single day, or result in the deletion of any valid message. Nor should they divert attention from what the Hellmouth series is really about -- the very real persecution of kids who are individualistic, different, "non-normal," and who have been wrongly caught up in an ugly hysterical response to a tragic event. These voices should not be silenced, and certainly not here.

Addendum by Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda

I wanted to make a few points in addition to Jon's.

  • A terrible thing happened a year ago. Then the world freaked out and caused even worse things to happen to even more people. Everyone involved in the production of this book felt that this would in some small way help. You're not obligated to buy, read, or even care about this book. But there are many people who hopefully will benefit from it.
  • It was impractical, and in fact undesirable to contact and credit the vast number of contributors. Under other circumstances, it might have been different, but considering the subject matter, we felt that it was better done anonymously anyway. If we were publishing the 'Slashdot Readers Guide to Hacking C++' or something, much different criteria would have been used.
  • We're donating any money to charity: we'll certainly entertain suggestions about which charity, and perhaps it'll be put to a Slashdot poll, all of that however was just a nice side benefit to a larger purpose. Accusations that this is a PR stunt were pretty hurtful. We honestly feel that this was above all else, a "Good Thing". Yes, we did it through a Andover, a corporate, "For Profit" entity, but that alone doesn't make turn this into an evil plot to take your money, and earn us fame. Turn the conspiracy theory down a notch and remember that Andover just a group of human beings with real feelings and everything. Several of them were very hurt that so many people reacted so angrily to something that we all felt was good.
  • We're in the middle of a big server move. After that we'll hack a permission system to allow people to decide if their words are for Slashdot only, or may be redistributed if this ever comes up again. There are many good things in the comments worthy of wider audiences, and most readers don't have any problem with that, but the few (loud) people for whom this is a major stumbling block should most certainly be allowed to determine the destiny of their own words. It has been my intent to add this for months, but ideas are plentiful, while the time to code them isn't.
  • It will be published electronically. It'll be run either on Slashdot, or it'll be in some downloadable format. Its just not out yet, so chill out for a few weeks ;)

Extra-special bonus addendum 04/21 16:24 by michael : Already the jokes have begun.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Postscript: Who Owns The Hellmouth Posts?

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  • gargle says:

    The poster owns the copyright to the post. Since the Berne Convention, you own a copyright to everything you write, even when a copyright statement does not appear. For something to go into public domain, the author has to place very explicit statement to that effect.

    Well, yes, that's why it says at the bottom of every Slashdot page "All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners. Comments are owned by the Poster." On the other hand, I'd say that since the text is in an public forum with international visibility, fair use copying should be interpreted rather liberally. If you don't want to see your text written somewhere else, this isn't the best place to put it.

  • Thank you.

    Personally, I don't see how it being difficult to contact some of the authors in any way absolves them of the responsibility to do so.

    The only thing that gives me any pause here is that Rob still has a lot of credibility with me -- I can't believe that he'd want to, say, use other people's words to set himself up as some sort of "geek authority" with traditional media (which is what I'm half-convinced Jon Katz has been trying to do since day one of this tragedy).

    No matter what the motivations, however, it still seems to me that, when possible, someone compiling a book like this still has a responsibility to make every effort to contact the original authors.

    This is a case where the right thing to do ethically is backed up by the force of law. Rob, at least get someone from the publisher to try and contact the original authors, no matter what Katz says about it.


  • I can't speak to the emails that were used for this book, but I think some people here need to get a clue. This is a public message board; by posting here, you have given implicit permission for your post to be disseminated. If you don't like that, rather than putting juvenile disclaimers in your .sig or complaining about being exploited, don't post.

    I'm also really amazed by the attitude so many here seem to have that "if somebody is making money from something that includes my post, I want some". First off, Rob has made millions (at least on paper) from your posts; when's the last time you hit him up for some cash? As well, to see this attitude on the same site where people are constantly complaining that musicians and programmers might actually want to get paid for their work is downright offensive. Yes, I know people with all kinds of attitudes post here, but I have seen posts complaining about the possibility of being used in a 'Slashdot compilation' from the same people who say musicians should give away their recordings and make money from touring (easy to say when you don't play, I suppose).

    Can we please get over the wanting something for nothing attitudes and just get on with things?

  • Incidently, parodies such as those done by Weird Al Yankovic don't really need permission. Parodies have long been protected by law from recrimination by the original authors. And the world is better off for it.

    Also, I think the Slashdot editors' attitudes can be just as easily thought of as 'defensive' instead of condescending and righteous. They've been attacked in a big way. Also, they've never really acted condescending in the past (occasionaly righteous, perhaps).

    -Paul Komarek
  • To anyone saying something stupid about their intentions, or public forums and fair use and blah blah blah...

    READ THIS FIRST. [slashdot.org]

    As much as some of you might hate him, Signal 11 has some relevant stuff to say, and from what I know about copyrights, it sounds good to me.

    This is a real issue, and I'd like to know what Katz and Slashdot are going to do about it.

    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • Before you answer "none!", remember that this post- and all the posts made about the Hellmouth, Microsoft, Linux, and whatever- are being hosted on machines paid for and maintained by Andover, and distributed over bandwidth paid for by Andover. We recognize that a book publisher has some rights over the works being published- why not Andover?

    The more I think about it, the more I think "Intellectual Property" is an oxymoron.
  • I would have a problem with my posts really being in the public domain because I don't want to be misquoted. I'd like an open license that keeps someone from putting words in my mouth.



  • Over on Technocrat.net I state a posting copyright policy that explicitly allows me to make later use of the postings in something like Katz' book. I also use the policy to put content into Open Source. The posters got to see that policy before they made their posts. Given that this is probably not the last book of this kind, it might be a good idea for Slashdot to modify its posting policy and not simply rely on fair use without telling the poster what might happen. Get your plans out in the open!




    first, i think rob's idea of a button saying that the comment is intended for /. or further publication is great. of course as i look down i see score +1 tick box, anon tick box, a format pull down... i fear posting to /. will become akin to wading through warning labels in dept stores...

    the whinging and screeching over this has been absolutely disgusting. rob and his crew - and that includes jon katz - have taken an issue they care about and have attempted to get information out on it. free software takes a similar tack in releasing stuff that's almost perfect in the idea that it can be improved and used. in the future /. folks will do dead tree (and other media) versions in new and (hopefully) better ways.

    rob's comment that andover, et al are made up of *people* just can't be emphasised enough. what feedback on your work (and your mistakes) do you want to get? what are you giving out in public forums?
  • Reread the article.

    It will be published electronically. It'll be run either on Slashdot, or it'll be in some downloadable format. Its just not out yet, so chill out for a few weeks ;)

    ...still have a complaint? Sounds to me like you'll be able to get it online by the time the book is available - of course, the use is limited online as the people who need to see it will be offline, primarily.

    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VelociNews (http://www.velocinews.com [velocinews.com])
  • I never posted to the original hellmouth, namely because slashdot already had 1000
    comments and I had nothing new to contribute - I've had similar experiences as those
    who posted, however I can't take any action over other's postings. That's my
    disclaimer, now on with the show..

    I think it's hypocritical to post articles about how company X is violating
    the GPL, or how such-and-such company is advertising "open source" when it's not,
    while simultaniously holding the line that software patents are bad and violating
    the copyright of the people who posted to slashdot. For slashdot to have any
    credibility in such matters, it needs to address these issues.

    Why was there no mention of the book until now? You noted in previous postings
    that it would have been "too difficult" to contact everyone. If contacting people
    was a problem, why did you not post an article - they were slashdot readers then,
    many probably still are. The most effective and lowest-cost method of reaching
    those people for approval would have been to post an article asking them. If
    I took a hundred slashdot articles, compiled a list of "Best of Slashdot" and
    sold it (even if I donated all my profits to, say, the FSF), wouldn't you be
    upset? Yes, and you'd sue. That "The Rest © 1997-2000 Andover.Net." means
    something for you guys, "Comments are owned by the Poster" ought to mean
    something too.

    I would have serious objections if people quoted me without even asking/telling
    me until after the fact. Maybe it is better to ask forgiveness than permission,
    but I'd still be pissed. You either need to make it /explicitly/ clear that when
    people post to slashdot that their comments can be quoted and/or are "public domain".

    It's fair use to quote.. but turning around and selling a book off other's ideas,
    feelings and thoughts is illegal whether you make a profit or not. You guys have
    been around long enough - you should have known better. If you guys disagree with
    copyrights and patents then say so - and do the equivalent of GPL'ing the site and
    it's content - make it available to all and /say/ /it/. Fight to overturn those
    laws. Otherwise, stop speaking with a forked tongue and respect those people's
    copyright, instead of just your own.

    Signal 11 -o- BOFH, malign.net
    "I got everybody to pay up front...then I blew up their planet."
    "Now why didn't I think of that?" -- Post Bros. Comics

  • I didn't compile the excerpts and have no such list. It will be in the book. I wouldn't give it out if I had it.
  • The level of hypocrisy here exceeds even that exuded by Microsoft lawyers. A sincere (and important) effort is being made on behalf of countless people who are being victimized by the system, and the "data wants to be free" crowd is having a hissy fit over copyright.

    IANAL, but it is worth pointing out that unless you register your copyright by sending the actual paper form to the federal government, you cannot sue for punitive damages. You can only sue for compensatory damages, i.e., only if you can demonstrate that Andover prevented you from making money from your words that you would have made if the book had not been published.

    I dunno 'bout the rest of you, but when I emailed Jon -- as when I email any journalist -- I assumed that I was risking publication unless I specifically requested otherwise. And while I'd be surprised if anything I said ends up in this book, it doesn't bother me at all. There's a lot more at stake here than whether I ever get a dime for writing an email. And if someone does make some money off of it, I don't give a rat's ass.

    The level of sheer, mindless, greedy grasping and r-complex territorial behavior being demonstrated here is mind-boggling. Explicit copyright notices on your Slashdot posts? How childish! Do you stamp the old circle-C on the end product of your digestive processes? (Most AC's may as well.) Go work for Microsoft or the RIAA and quit cluttering public forums with spurious copyright claims.

    The preceding comments are released into the public domain, where they belong, along with everything else I've ever said or ever will say in a public forum.
  • comments are the property of the authors -

    How about, everyone who feels cheated read the pub, if you see your post, put in a claim for a share of the books' profits that you don't want to go to someone's favorite charity - there should be some ways of verifying ID and that you actually did write it.

    However there's definitely the stench of hipocritical narcisstic solipsism - anything *you* create *I* want to be able to use anyway I want, but anything *I* create I want to control and regulate. Pfft. I'm not a professional writer, and anything I post anywhere is gratis and would be pleased to see it get mass attention, just as long as it's credited to my handle or 'a slashdot discussion contributor', and nobody outright claims to have written it verbatim. I'd even allow for subconscious plaigurism - i.e., someone reads my post, forgets about it, and later on repeats a part as if they'd thought of it. That's just saying they pretty deeply agree.
  • This is not the first time that the issue of ownership of comments in an electronic forum has been raised at Slashdot. I can't give you a link, but I can show you my solution. Observe my .sig. Here it is quoted for those like myself that do not view .sigs.
    [I hereby grant full permission for any and all to retransmit, archive, republish and broadcast all of my postings to Slashdot, past, present and future]
    That means that there is no doubt in any writer or publisher's mind that they can reprint my public posted (on /.) opinions without fear of legal action. There are enough real issues of libel and so forth without worrying about the ownership of some pissant little post...
  • However, I cannot let stand uncontested the implication that the rule of law should never be challenged. The law is but an approximation of fairness and justice, and it is those things to which we must first bear allegance. Yes, we should be commited to approximating fairness and justice, thus should be committed to the rule of law. But let us never forget the law is a means to a more important end, and where it fails that end, it is the law that should yield.

    Good point. I agree completely.

    Rosa Parks was participating in civil disobediance. She was not infringing on anyone else's rights. Her rights were being denied.

    In the examples I gave, I tried to focus on those instances where someone assumes they know what is best for someone else, against that person's wishes.

    That said, I don't know when breaking a law would be justified, but I agree that there are times when it is.

    But in cases where there is a legal way to bring about change (voting, via the courts, peaceful protest, etc.) vigilantism is to be avoided. This is a complex issue. The really important ones usually are. Unfortunately, as your parting line notes, instead of reasoned discussion we get flame wars, whether it be on Crossfire or /..

    Steve M

  • The last time I did taxes, taking a 'tax break' on
    donations meant you deduct the donation from your
    Book sells. Andover adds income to total, donates
    income to charity, deducts donation from taxes,
    pays taxes as if they hadn't published the book
    at all.
    Where in this Andover makes money, I don't see.
  • To me, the moral imperative of the Hellmouth series has always been simple: get these stories out to a wider audience. That's what they were sent. So to get the comments out to a wider audience, you are going to publish a book and sell it for ~$15... Will that REALLY get it to a wider audiance?

    The fact is, people on the outside are likely to pay more attention because it costs money. I know a guy who published a directory of people and companies in a certain industry. When he doubled the price of the book, he sold about twice as many. Having it in buyable book form also will get it reviewed in mainstream publication, free advertising.

    Larger Audience? (Score:2) by _xeno_ on 04-21-00 10:45 AM EST (#33) (User Info) To me, the moral imperative of the Hellmouth series has always been simple: get these stories out to a wider audience. That's what they were sent. So to get the comments out to a wider audience, you are going to publish a book and sell it for ~$15... Will that REALLY get it to a wider audiance? Is the publisher going to do any publicity on the book? Are you going to be on Oprah? Or is the book just going to sit on bookstore shelves, being bought only by those /. readers who feel for whatever reason they should buy a copy? How about posting the entire content of the book to a website so people can read it online for free. If you're not making a profit, then why not? It can't hurt profits if there aren't supposed to be any. And that might help get to a wider audience. You should really read the entire article before posting - Rob says explicitly that it will be available in downloadable form. In fact, it's the final thing in his addendum, and it's in boldface!

  • This is not a direct comment on the specific issue. I just want to point out to Jon Katz and Slashdot in general that some of the logic used in this post is very dangerous. "I know I didn't have explicit permission but I know they'd want me to do this" and especially "It's for their own good" are very dangerous arguments. It's the same ones used by those people who profile our every click on the internet, you know: "It's for their own good so we can avoid repeating ads and can target ads more towards their interests." I would not compare this endeavor to that sort of profiling by any means :-), but the road to hell[mouth] is paved with good intentions... and a lot of those intentions are really good. You're probably OK this time, but don't get in the habit of justifying things this way; it can be arrogant and elistist to do something like this with somebody else's property without permission. (If you were intending to make a profit, I would be roasting you. I understand the intentions and applaud them, just be careful with that logic.)
  • You wrote on slashdot to be heard (as did i). take it as a complemet that YOUR WORDS will be used to tell OUR side of the story. if you're scared you parents are going to see this and question you about it, get past it and grow up. if you need help get it. if not stfu
  • So.. you're mad that your public comments are in a little book somewhere? Why? It's not like the book is all about your comments..
    hey.. wait.. ARE your comments in the book, or are you just blowing hot air?
  • Why is this so hard to understand?

    You post to a PUBLIC FORUM. it *IS* by all definitions a PUBLIC FORUM.
    Comments posted to a PUBLIC FORUM are in the PUBLIC DOMAIN. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?
    Just because something is in the PUBLIC DOMAIN doesn't mean somebody isn't responsible for writing those words.. /. chose to say that comments are 'owned' by their authors... as in, the authors are responsible for the content of the comments, not /.

    If something is all too private, they shouldn't have posted it to a PUBLIC FORUM in the first place!
  • Comments are owned by the Poster. The Rest © 1997-2000 Andover.Net

    I don't know about you people, but when I read this I don't think "This is my post, and I can sue because you used something I own without my permission" or something like that. Rather, I see "Don't try to sue Slashdot for these posts, cuz we didn't write them".

    In essense, I think it has less to do with you being able to excersize rights on your posts, than it has to do with Slashdot covering their ass if some company (M$ for example) got the crap flamed outta them on /. and then that company wanted to take action on Slashdot for it. You don't get to say who gets to use your posts and in what form, rather, other people can't use these posts against /.

    But perhaps the way I read things is different from most people. ;)
  • For instance, the attorney general in Illinois (where I live unfortunately) is talking about enforcing the voluntary ratings system on vidieo games now.

    Tell your attorney general that there already is a voluntary rating system on video games, and has been for quite some time since Senator Lieberman went balistic about Doom and Mortal Kombat a few years back. Of all the things to "blame" why do people ALWAYS blame video games?! I never remember a video game that killed anyone in real life. There are a lot worse things out there.
  • Sue the bastards, after all if the book flops because your post(s) is missing, then the best writing in the book WAS your post and you deserve a piece of the pie, whether you decide to give it to charity is your business.

    That's a small pie with *many* pieces. Are you sure there's enough to go around?

    Will you begin to demand that slashdot pay you for the priviledge of you posting here?

    I say, let it be. No one is any worse off than they were before. No one was expecting any money when they first posted to slashdot, why should they expect payment now? Because their posting will be published in a book that will get sold? Do you realize that Andover gets money for selling banner ads? What is the difference, really?

    This is a Web Forum. The Internet is very open. Posting here and expecting your words not to be echoed is hypocritical.

    No harm has been done. No one is entitled to anything. Posts to slashdot are certainly not heavily rivised and edited. Getting paid for something means that you put a bunch of effort into it. I just don't see that happening.
  • There's no doubt that the poster "owns" the comments, as in, "possesses the copyright for their comments". So much for "ownership". But holding the copyright is not the be-all and end-all. Other people can copy and use your works if:

    a) you license them to do so

    b) their use falls under the fair use exemptions in copyright law

    There is no question, for example, that by posting a comment on slashdot, you grant them a long-term non-exclusive license to publish your work on the website - though you still own the copyright. You could post the same words on another website and license them to publish your words too.

    Fair use allows a book reviewer, for example, to quote passages from the book without obtaining any sort of license from the book publisher or author. That's why people are upset about UCITA - it would abolish this right with regard to software.

    But in any case, people need to distinguish between ownership and use.

    Michael Sims-michael at slashdot.org
  • Let's say someone posted a comment on the Hellmouth topic on slashdot.org, the comment got included in the book and the original author of the comment doesn't like it. Also, it is really important for that person that the comment is not included.

    How does one make sure that the person that is claiming to have written the comment really is the author? It's impossible IMHO, so in the very improbable case that someone will make a trial out of this, there is no basis...

    What I cannot quite understand is that the people running slashdot haven't made it absolutely clear (and legally correct, I guess they have the money to pay some lawyers) that content published here can be republished in any form.
  • I'd just like to take a quick second to THANK taco and katz for posting a katz article under his authorship. Every time it doesn't happen, we get hundreds of accusatory posts - but no one is ever grateful. Let's at least show some respect around here. . .
  • I am not a lawyer, but I will answer your questions based on my understanding of copyright law.

    First of all, fair use is somewhat of a misnomer. There are quite a few things that fall into the category of fair use, and it is something that can't simply be set in stone. For example, quoting from a book for educational purposes may be ok for one book, but horrible for another. A court may find you guilty if you quote one thing, but let you get by with another. The law is rather vague, and it is intentional. In many cases, it actually takes a court case to make a real decision.

    Secondly, oral comments are not necessarily copyrightable. Copyright covers 9 categories, and some of them involve oral presentations (like sound recodings, performances, pantomimes, etc). Walking outside and shouting something probably does not entitle you to a copyright.

    Finally, the archiving of things on Slashdot is not republishing them. Think of Slashdot as a publishing medium for my comments. I post something (like what I'm saying here), and Slashdot facilitates its presence on the internet. When they are archived, they are kept for posterity like any other book or literature.

    I hope that answers your question, and I am open to any further interpretations of copyright law.

    My disclaimer:
    This comment is owned by me, and cannot be reproduced outside of this medium without my permission.
  • Well, I have to say that I agree that each and every poster has copyright over his or her own comments on slashdot, there is no doubt there.

    The question about this being a public forum and therefore Andover can just take the comments, publish them into a book, and reap profits (even if these profits ultimately go to charity) makes absolutely no sense to me.

    Fair use? Probably if they were just quotes and not whole duplication, but quotes also need to be credited back to the author, which isn't done here.

    The comments belong to the individual poster, there is no doubt about that, and there is a pretty strong case for the posters if they didn't want their works published in any forum they didn't ask it to be published in.

    This being said, I think we need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture here. Just because you can sue doesn't necessarily mean you should. Where would the comments do more good? In the book which might get read or not in the book? Where would the money you sue for do more good? In the charity that it gets donated to or your pocket?

    Yes, you own the comments, but wouldn't it be a better service to humanity if they were published and the money go to a deserving charity?

    -- iCEBaLM
  • Thanks for the accurate concise information! Most people here appreciate expert analysis (even though *some* posters seem to prefer playing 'bash all lawers').

    IIRC, the notice about posters owning their comments came after some news site reproduced slashdot posts in their entirety. The news site did this in a very unflattering way, picking the most violent flames to demonstrate that the geek community is totally irrational. I wish I could remember the news site's name or the aprozimate date :(

    At the time, everyone (including Rob Cmmdr. et. al.) was really pissed off about the unauthorized reproduction, so the current controversy shouldn't come as a shock. It's a bit hypocritical to say that CNN can't reproduce post in their entirety, but Andover can. Since this site depends in part on trust from community, the staff would be wise to ensure that this issue is addressed.

    Does anmyone else remember this? Or am I totally confused?

  • The book isn't out yet.
    They didn't contact quoted people.
    Therefore, we have no way of knowing if we are quoted in the book.

    More importantly, we have no way of knowing if we will be quoted in some future book unless this discussion influences slashdot policy.
  • "If you didn't want your opinion to be heard why voice it in the first place?"

    This is particularly disengenuous. No one said 'I don't want my opinion to be heard'. No one. I see people having a problem with the use of quotes specifically because 'Comments are owned by the poster'.
    "Fair-Use" and "Public Forum" issues aside I think that the real problem is that people see /. as a community of sorts built on trust. When you start doing things like this without advance notice, and then using legalities to justify what you did, you lose some of that trust.

    I guess that's how I feel about. I can't speak for anyone else.

  • I feel like Q talking to Picard in that episode where he offered Picard a second chance. All of the posts here are protected by copyright (they are *not* in the public domain, despite some air-headed comments about "public forums" and the like), but the world wouldn't change one iota if any author (or even hundreds of authors) remained silent.

    This even applies to the posts selected for inclusion (with editing) in the book. The post, no matter how moving, is still a single testimonial read by a few tens of thousands of people.

    But select a large number of those posts, organize them and present them in an overarching conceptual framework, and you have a new work which is far more than the sum of its parts. The IP in that book lies not in the individual stories, but in their selection and organization. Because of that, and the sad fact that there were so many personal stories to pick from, it seems clear to me that this use clearly falls under the "fair use" provisions of copyright law.

    As others have alluded to, I have a *very* hard time imaging that anyone who contributed a story wanted it to be read by handful of people on Slashdot, then forgotten.

    Even if they do care (and did't take the trivial precaution of writing Jon Katz directly and explicitly state their reservations), I can only compare the book to a magnificent building made of bricks. Obviously you need bricks to make that building, but each individual brick - by itself - is pretty much worthless. It's easy to substitute one brick for another during construction, and even afterwards the loss of a brick or two won't cause the building to fall down. But when we look at the building, do we see the bricks or the intelligence (and compassion) that organized them?

    In closing, I would remind everyone of a famous axiom: the law should be treated as a shield, not a sword. IP rights are a shield when you seek to deny others taking credit or changing your words. While a few posters would have a legitimate beef about lack of credit, there's no doubt that the decision to anonymous all posts was justifiable considering the persecution reported by many writers. Sadly, many of these posts seem to be using the law as a sword. I wonder if they greet coworkers with "hello (c)", "want to grab lunch (c)?", etc.
  • Slashdot tells me that I retain all rights to my posts.

    Therefore, I post whatever I like. I post, knowing that my words will be archived on this site, possibly quoted in other posts on this site, and so forth. That's a combination of fair use and the caveats of posting a comment on Slashdot.

    Because I own the sole copyright to my posts, Andover cannot legally reproduce them anywhere but on Slashdot without permission. If they ask for my permission, I would likely give it, but there is a chance that I will not in some cases. I have no problem with Slashdot publishing a book per say, but I do have a problem with the violation of my copyright, should one take place.

    You say "if you don't like it, then maybe you shouldn't post here." I'm sorry, but you are basing this upon incorrect beliefs. "Comments are owned by the Poster." That's the way it is. No public domain involvement. I exchanged some email with Hemos, and as mentioned by Rob, they will likely implement an opt-in policy. Good. Everyone's happy. The people who wish to control their posts continue to do so, the rest can be as altruistic as they desire.

    If, however, they state that every comment posted here belongs to the public domain, I will indeed go away and not post. I do some freelance writing. I am happy to post my thoughts on Slashdot without compensation, but only because I retain ownership of my words. I'm sure that a fair number of people find themselves in similar situations. Do you understand where I am coming from?


  • it's the way slashdot avoids legal responsibility for monitoring posts and insisting that they conform to law.

    Hmm. Seems they want to have their cake and eat it too - they appear to want to a) avoid liability by saying "that post is the posters" and b) be able to publish them en-masse. Sorry guys, this seems wrong.

    Is the book right? In my view no. I realise that this may be redundant but firstly I'm a Brit so I don't have the emotional baggage that a lot of people posting here seem to have, and secondly I think that there will be a counting of voices going on at some point ("most people thought it was bad/good").

    The reasons are twofold: no real effort was made to contact contributers - news on the front page about this three months ago ("We're going to publish a book about `Hellmouth`"), mass e-mailing. Anything realistic in fact. This needed to be done because those posts were not yours - you are entitled to publish them on your web site and that is all. Secondly the posts in the book are unattributed - this was a major error of judgement.

    There is also the unsubstantiated nature of the claims - which is compounded by publishing them unattibuted. This devalues the book so much: imagine if the "Diary of Anne Frank" was called "The Diary of someone". It removes a lot of the books credibility.

    Think about if, for example, a book on Perl had been published based on the contents on Slashdot's archives, and none of the posts were attibuted: there would have been, justifiably, outrage (well, more unanimous outrage). Because there may be good reasons for this book to be published does not, and cannot, justify the actions: two wrongs do not make a right.

    What I would like to see is some statement by Slashdot clarifying the position - at the moment we are in a bit of a limbo where nobody knows under what conditions they are posting. I'm not bothered one way or another, but others are, and this should be clarified, and soon.

  • Perhaps (and I'm not saying this is right) this is a question of the feeling that what is posted here is within the community and what is published in a book is outside of the community.

    I agree that if one wants to maintain absolute privacy about one's personal life, one should not say anything about it to anyone -- electronically or otherwise. :) But some people do see /. as a community of people like themselves, and would be willing to share more here than with those perceived as outsiders.

    I'm not saying that this makes the hellmouth book a BAD idea. Quite the contrary. But it is a way to explain people's reactions to the book, and even some of the negativity that gets tossed at Katz (who's seen as "not one of us" by many here).

    Heck, I've got more in common with Katz than with the average prototypical /. reader. Sometimes I wonder if I should even post here. :)
  • This is the same argument used to murder abortion doctors. This is the same argument that is being used to keep a young Cuban boy from his father.[...]

    This is the same argument as was proposed by Rosa Parks when she refused to yield her seat on a city bus. This is the same argument as was/is used by dissidents who met in secrecy defying oppressive regime's laws against peacable assembly. etc.

    I agree the rule of law is important. I even have sympathy for your main point concerning the specific case of the Hellmouth posts.

    However, I cannot let stand uncontested the implication that the rule of law should never be challenged. The law is but an approximation of fairness and justice, and it is those things to which we must first bear allegance. Yes, we should be commited to approximating fairness and justice, thus should be committed to the rule of law. But let us never forget the law is a means to a more important end, and where it fails that end, it is the law that should yield.

    Now, back to your regularly scheduled flamewar.

  • I know this seems to fly in the face of thePsychotron's first point about making it "absolutely clear to everyone that we are in no way trying to justify the attackers actions".

    Er, I assure you, if we do give the money to survivors' families, we (collectively) will be pilloried in the press for appearing to try to appease them. There is no good press in doing that.

    I wish I could suggest a charity which would help persecuted geeks, but I don't know of any.

    Try the ACLU, the nice folks who were looking into the situation. Alternatively, if there's any real money involved, it would be cool to set up a fund or grant for funding programs for/in schools which promote tolerance and non-violence.

  • Perhaps it needed to be better spelled out in the user agreement when you registered on Slashdot, but it seems reasonable to assume the following:

    When you post a comment to Slashdot, you are granting a license to all readers of Slashdot to read your post free of charge. Furthermore, you are giving the owners of Slashdot the license to relocate, edit, and publish your comments in another forum. Like it or not, that seems a reasonable precondition to using the website.

    The real key to your retention of your copyright is that Slashdot cannot, in turn, prevent you from reposting your own comment elsewhere, because you hold the copyright.

    Granted, that's a very GPL way of looking at comment posting, but we keep saying that source code is speech and should follow the same rules, right?

  • You are probably filing the class action lawsuit papers right now, rat weasel. What will your cut be?

    This is exactly what I hate about self important lawyers.

    "Blah Blah I know the law. Blah Blah who cares what is right, we have a clear LEGAL obligation to see Andover go down in flames."

    The creation of this book is a good thing. It will further disseminate the feelings of a group of people that do not otherwise have a strong voice. Please do not soil it with legalistic tripe.

  • Didn't CmdrTaco say that they'd be adding a feature whereby people could opt-in or out of having comments reproduced? Then they could simply say "Comments are owned by poster. Slashdot reserves the right to post comments with the "Reproduce Me" flag on".

    Then we could set a universal "Allow comment reproduction" option, which we could optionally override at the comment level. E.g., in most cases I want to allow my comments to be reproduced elsewhere, except those comments in which I make an ass of myself, for which I should be able to turn the "Reproduce Me" flag off (or the "Don't reproduce me" flag on).
  • Indeed, "What the fnar?". (what the hell does that mean?)

    I posted a reply to JonKatz's message asking this, and also asked in #slashdot...but apparently some invisible genie just conjured up this book all by himself.

  • Copyrights are not mutually exclusive!! (right lawyers???) I can have copyright on something, and SO CAN somebody else. It gives me the right to copy or reproduce something. If I spray paint some stuff on an overpass I certainly wouldn't expect to be able to retain copyright when somebody photographs and publishes the writing. That's what this is. A public forum. We are all writing on a big public wall. Why aren't you afraid some people who just found Slashdot will take all these messages and publish them some place? There is certainly nothing stopping them.
  • I would have a problem with my posts really being in the public domain because I don't want to be misquoted.

    Yeah, I think republishing rights is a better choice of words. Copyrights should still be retained by the poster, but being able to opt out of giving republishing rights is really the issue.

  • OK, who else here saw this headline and thought they were making a postscript version of the book availible?
  • From reading his description of the attempt, it sounds like he made an effort to contact many more than 200 people. And he got exactly 1 response.
    No more e-mail address game - see my user info. Time for revenge.
  • >>Now this is lame. Make it available for download, or don't do it. This old "in the near future" routine makes me sick.

    Think about it. The book was probably not written in HTML, most likely it was written and edited in Word or some other Word processing package. The planning would come in by determining how they want to post it back online in HTML format. (Do you include links? Do you Thread the comments? Just post as plain text?) If you thought about what needs to be planned for instead of just BITCHING about it, you would understand at least a few of the problems facing the Slashdot Crew in creating the Book. If you really want to help them, offer to help put the book into HTML. (Then you would really see and understand the TIME it takes to put the book online!.)

    I like the idea behind the book. (And the fact that no-one is aiming to profit personally). Keep pushing the message out!


  • A /. poll for this?? Almost nobody is going to say no, and most people are being pissed off for not being asked.
    The simple solution will be to hold back the publication, till people are given a chance to say yes. Can you do that? Put up a poll on this issue?

    Just my 0.005 cents (US)
  • IANALAIDNPOOT - I am not a lawyer, and I do not play one on TV ---

    I would suggest perusal of 10 Big Myths about copyright explained [templetons.com] from Brad Templeton of ClariNet and EFF. I would suggest concentrating on the following items:

    • "If it doesn't have a copyright notice, it's not copyrighted."
    • "If I don't charge for it, it's not a violation." (in regard to donating the proceeds to charity)
    • "If it's posted to Usenet it's in the public domain."
    • "My posting was just fair use!"
    • "If I make up my own stories, but base them on another work, my new work belongs to me." (in regard to compilation copyright)

    Was the original series a Good Thing? Yes.

    Did everyone involved with this book have good intentions? I think so.

    Was this the right thing to do? Well, I don't know about right, but it is at least doubtful that it was the legal thing to do. As the person above claiming to be a lawyer states, the Slashdot bunch, and therefore Andover, have explicitly not claimed copyright or ownership of the original messages -- which means that the original poster retains all rights to that material. Just because you can't get a hold of one or all of the posters does not give you permission to use the posts, IMHO it bars you from using them as you cannot establish ownership yourself, and in publishing them you are asserting just such a right over that material.

    Many of us would not read or post to Slashdot if we were not concerned about issues like privacy, the GPL, and IP. While nothing, in my opinion, ever justifies hate mail, nobody should at least have been surprised that many Slashdotters would be concerned about this.

  • (IANAL)

    So, as a lawyer, so you want to tell us whether the fair-use provisions of copyright law allow for the reprinting of comments? It seems to me that anyone can quote *parts* of a comment, under fair
    use. Does the law change if an entire, short
    comment is quoted?

    Also, what about the following analogy. Say I make a oral comment in an obviously public way. Is it illegal for someone to print my public comments? (I *own* my own oral comments -- at least certainly no one else does.)

    If it is not legal to print the comments in a book, then is the Slashdot archive illegal?
  • If someone doesn't want to be quoted I believe they have the right not to, or is this just the begining of Katz's next book about the horrors of IP?

    Screw the sanctimonious idealism here, this thing is going to be a tax write off for its authors/producers while you get absolutly nothing not even your right to protest who's using your writing.

    Sue the bastards, after all if the book flops because your post(s) is missing, then the best writing in the book WAS your post and you deserve a piece of the pie, whether you decide to give it to charity is your business. If it is well written book it won't need to rely on your post. By adding all these posts it sounds like it really isn't and posters deserve credit, rights, and royalties.

    Regardless of what cprincipe says, writers have rights and its ok to hate Jon Katz.
  • If all the content is FREE and ONLINE, why the book? Who is this magical demographic who would pay to read this stuff compiled from a hack author when its here to be seen by all the 'moms' in the world? Free, unedited and in its original form. Can't beat that.

    This book and posts, regardless of how important you think they are, are definatly niche items, they seem all important to the 'geek' but to the paranoid parents and church ladies its not worth the 10 bucks. To those who are really interested in it, why buy the book when you've read the best parts of it already? Maybe we won't tell them its online, or Rob and company can remove it to help sales.

    In the end, this is just an unethical attempt to create a commercial product from the contributions of many people who weren't even considered for their opinions on the matter. If we're going to 'chill out' about something, lets let the ignorant zeal of idealism die down and think about whats really happening here.
  • I suppose you're right.. We couldn't have decided..
  • by technos ( 73414 )
    This is exactly the issue we cite time and time again whenever we get in a pisser over DVD and the MPAA. Fair use. Slashdot's use of the posts constitutes fair use. They are not representing the content as their own, they are using the posts as fuel for the book. This is also not a Jane's situation. Jane's solicited our comments for the express use of publication, and the comments were the story, per se.

    Do we want to be hypocrites? Shall we scream 'fair use' at the MPAA and scream 'but you're stealing my property' /. ??

    A wee bit of advance notice would have been nice though.. I don't think we'd be in such an uproar if we had known of the book before publication..
  • First of all, I agree that the legal risk is probably very small. However, we've all seen how the legal system (doesn't) work, and /. could be opening themselves up to those sorts of arguments.

    Second of all, I don't consider copyrighting my posts to be childish. In fact, I make my living as a writer. Not once have I said that "data should be free." Now, unlike some others, all I ask is that I recieve due credit for what I've written. All Rob or Jon Katz or anyone needs do is ask me for permission and I'd be glad to allow them that.

    The fact is, I really don't have too much of a beef about the book and its publication. I just don't want /. getting into a legal can of worms over it. I agree that if you post anonymously, you pretty much lose any control over your words. However, if I post in a public forum, I give my consent only for my words to be used in that forum. As the bottom of /. says, I don't give up my rights to those words, and neither do you. You or I can choose to public domain your comments, and that's fine. I was really just trying to make a point with that - since you called me on it here's a better alternative that's more in line with the spirit of the Free and Open Software world that I still consider myself a part of.

    This post is covered under the Open Content Public License.

  • First of all, I do find one aspect of this story troubling. We've been told that these people want their stories out - did they specifically say so or was that just assumed? If they said they wanted their words to be published in a medium other than /. , then that's perfectly fine.

    However, if it was just assumed that they wanted their stories told, that's treading on some very thin ice. Legally, it's probably OK, but I think that people are right in pointing out the serious ethical issues this raises. If someone were to tell me anonymously that they were sexually molested by their parents, do I have a right to put that in a book and publish it? Sure, there's probably no chance that anyone would be able to trace it back to that particular person, but would that person ever trust me with confidential information ever again? Probably not.

    Now, in all fairness, those posts are still readable, archived on /. for all to see. Publishing them in a book only makes them accessable to a wider audience, most of whom have probably seen the posts already.

    There's one final thing I want to point out, a dangerous prescedent that might be set here. If an AC posts something, and /. publishes it in a separate form, that could be considered /. saying that they "own" the content of posts. That would mean that /. has a legal responsiblity as a publisher for the content of *every* post made on /. Should a certain Ms. Portman wish to sue the living blazes out of /. for some very defamatory comments made about her, all her lawyers need do is hold up that book and call /. a publisher. Now, I'm no lawyer, and I make no claims about the legal accuracy of this, but it is something I think could very well be probable.

    The addition of an opt-out system should be an A1 priority for the next Slash upgrade, and I'd start seriously looking at the legal ramifications of this move.

    The preceding comments are (C)2000 Wombat Control. Reproduction in any form requires the explicit written consent of the author.

  • I did think it was a bit sad to see all the posts that rip on Katz on the publishing/copyright issue. If it was anyone other than him I doubt it would happen. This book isn't for profit. Considering the situation, I think taco/hemos and Katz handled everything pretty well.

    I'll probably buy the book too, maybe even from amazon.com. As much as I appreciate protests, I think the shlashdot community goes on too many jihad's, whether it's against amazon, Katz, or whoever. Don't get me wrong, I usually see slashdot as a kind of defender of freedom, I just wish people would understand that every corporation, every person, and all your ancestors have blood on their hands and skeletons in their closet. I think we need to cut Katz some slack.
  • I suppose maybe /. is analogous to having a bunch of people scrawl graffiti on a huge wall owned by Andover.net. Andover.net doesn't own the scrawl, the writer's don't own the scrawl, it's just "out there" in the public domain. Anybody who want's to look can look, anybody can refuse to look if they don't want to.

    This situation could probably be alleviated by changing the disclaimer from "Comments are owned by the Poster" to "Comments are in the public domain and not the responsibility of Andover.net" or something like that. Of course that subtly changes the nature of the whole thing, now doesn't it? But really thats the result of what CmdrTaco, JonKatz, and Hemos (in the posts yesterday) are arguing for.

  • FPhlyer User Info [slashdot.org] as of 12:05 GMT

    FPhlyer has posted 1 comments (this only counts the last few weeks)

    Do you honestly think that my comments or yours would really be missed? If you are submitting a comment to a public forum for ALL to read you are contradicting yourself.

    Sure, the comment is owned by the poster but you've voluntarily responded to a public forum being published on the net. Publishing in a book is just another means of distribution. By posting, you signified intent that you want your opinions to be shared. What does the medium have to do with it? Instead of being locked forever in 1's and 0's, your comment would be locked forever in paper.

    Do you realize that at this very moment your words are not only sitting on Slashdot but in hundreds/thousands of other netizens browser cache (or perhaps only the moderators and mine)? Perhaps multiple times? Did you intend this to happen? What if they link to your comment off another site. Are you going to get uppity over that because you didn't intend it?

    Slashdot/JonKatz/whoever isn't taking credit for your post but they are giving the ability for others to read it. They are the ones making the initiative to get posted and privately e-mailed stories & comments out to a larger % of the public (until everyone has a computer & net access).

    You sound ignorant as to the way data works. If you can get at it so that it is useable, it can be re-distributed ANYWHERE. A dinky little button DOES NOT GUARANTEE JoeSchmoe isn't going to make a comment harvester and broadcast your stuff on another site. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE to keep your comment on this site if it can be read.

    Do you also foolishly think that any other copy protection scheme by the recording and movie industry will actually fly if you still have the ability to view the material on their proprietary box?

    I guess you've already solved your problem: If you don't want it seen, don't post it.

    Then again, perhaps you just wanted Karma.


  • > It's good journalism to cite your sources.
    > Even if it's just a username

    Well its not always good to cite sources. If the
    "source" could possibly face retribution for their
    comments (in any form), then it is important to
    respect their wishes if they want to remain
    anonymous. In fact, I would go farther and say
    that the only safe thing to do is keep them
    anonymous, unless they can be specifically
    contacted and give permission to have their name

    Look at the types of things that DO go on in our
    society. Look at another "controversial" area...
    abortion. There are groups that sit outside of
    clinics and take down licence plate numbers of
    every car that enters one, they use this to find
    the owner of the car and harass them (with no
    acktual knowledge of whether they were just
    getting counseling, or going in for a completely
    unrelated procedure).

    On the same issue, there was a list of practioners
    names and home adresses on a web page, as a list
    of "evil people".

    The point is, merely having your name or other
    contact info even associated with a controversial
    issue can open you up to harassment and possibly

    What I think should have happened here, is simple.
    They should have made a "best effort" to contact
    every person and ask permission. Those who could
    not be contacted, should have been made anonymous
    (along with any who wished to remain anonymous)

    However, I don't see how its a huge deal, anything
    said here is a public statment. As such I figure
    they are fair game for quoting in articles,
    anonymous or not.
  • There is no blanket answer to the question that will make everyone happy.

    No, there is. The poster owns the copyright to the post. Since the Berne Convention, you own a copyright to everything you write, even when a copyright statement does not appear. For something to go into public domain, the author has to place very explicit statement to that effect.

  • . Archiving is part of Slashdot, and posters are not given a choice on whether or not their posts are archived.

    I posted this earlier, but it is relevant and refutes your point:

    From http://www.etext.org/Politics/Conspiracy/AJTeel/US C/17usc.txt

    (On anthologies:)

    "The second sentence of section 201(c), in conjunction with the provisions of section 404 dealing with copyright notice, will preserve the author's copyright in a contribution even if the contribution does not bear a separate notice in the author's name ,and without requiring any unqualified transfer of rights to the owner of the collective work. This is coupled with a presumption that, unless there has been an express transfer of more, the owner of the collective work acquires, 'only the privilege of reproducing and distributing the contribution as part of that particular collective work, any revision of that collective work, and any later collective work in the same series.


    Under the language of this clause a publishing company could reprint a contribution from one issue in a later issue of its magazine, and could reprint an article from a 1980 edition of an encyclopedia in a 1990 revision of it; the publisher could not revise the contribution itself or include it in a new anthology or an entirely different magazine or other collective work."

    As Jon said, requests not to reproduce the comments were honored. So in future, if you don't want what you say in a public forum to be reproduced for charity or for anything else, then ask for it not to be.

    The onus is not on the author to ask not to be reproduced. The author has a copyright by default. The onus is on the publisher to ask for permission to reproduce.

  • It occured to me that it might be a good idea to donate at least some of the money to the families of those killed in the Columbine tradgedy. There are a number of reasons for this:

    1) It makes it absolutely clear to everyone that we are in no way trying to justify the attackers actions.
    2) The families have more power than they realize. With the intense media focus on them, thier attitudes and statements can strongly influence future descisions. If we donate money to them, they will become aware of the book and perhaps even read it. Hopefully, then they might realize where the real roots of problems in public shools lie. If the families ever decide to "take action", then they might just end up doing the right thing.
    3) Making a donation to them would generate media attention in and of itself, thus making the general public aware of the book.

    I know these seem like all the wrong reasons to give money to charity, and I am aware that there are others that could make better use of the money. But this would accomplish alot towards our goal and in the end might end up helping the most people.

  • I don't see what the big deal is here. People who post to Slashdot post to a public forum, available to the whole world. They post so that their comments are out there, in the public domain. No one is under the impression this is a private chat room.

    So why anyone has a problem with their previous publicly posted comments being available merely in a different media, with what is likely to be a smaller audience, is beyond me.

    Is the problem with lack of credit? If there were user names, what would that solve, since very few people seem to post under their real names, and there are many anonymous posts. I barely pay attention to any of the poster's names myself, those who never read Slashdot will not pay attention at all, and would not gain any useful information by learning that "MisterPudding" has posted an insightful comment about Columbine.

  • The mass media outlet known as the news is good for nothing as far as this issue goes. In my opinion they are partly responsible for these events by glamorizing it. People don't really care about it, they just want to make you think so. For instance, the attorney general in Illinois (where I live unfortunately) is talking about enforcing the voluntary ratings system on vidieo games now. I hope you can get the word out about why Orwellian tactics are a bad idea in schools. I have to go. The thought police are coming to get me.
  • I think the real issue here is that the posts were just taken and used without any kind of prior notice and no chance for those who would like to avoid publication to voice their objections. Next time, tell us what you intend to do...how hard would it be to post a story titled "Slashdot Considering Hellmouth Book"? Give us a chance to voice our opinions before the decision is made, hey?

    -- WhiskeyJack

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 21, 2000 @06:35AM (#1119619)
    What's the problem with including anonymous submissions to Slashdot in this book? Why would anybody care?

    Look, you posted the comments anonymously. That means there is no way to trace you back. Sure, there might be server logs -- but come on! Why would Katz or any of the Slashdot crew go through the time and trouble to pair up web server logs, hunt down IPs, trace them back to an ISP, and through some MIRACLE find out who you were. That's SILLY and totally, totally impractical.

    Katz's little opus here has a lot of merit to it. People posting in the under the guise of anonymity share more information -- information that can be used in this book.

    Seriously, you all post anonymous comments and then get mad when they get published for a profit. You think Slashdot doesn't make a profit already? All that ad revenue comes in because of the hits and the hits are caused by returning traffic -- traffic that READS your COMMENTS. Oh God forbid, a PROFIT IS MADE!

    Seriously, if my comments were included I'd be rather flattered. Unfortunately I never posted on the whole Hellmouth issue. If I had, and my comments were published in a book, I'd be sort of thrilled.

    All you whiners need to grow up. It's not a GPL world and, hopefully, it never will be.
  • by Gleef ( 86 ) on Friday April 21, 2000 @06:56AM (#1119620) Homepage
    Luis Casillas asks:

    So, really, who owns the posts?

    I thought it covered that. There is no blanket answer to the question that will make everyone happy. Since the question can't be answered collectively, Slashdot will soon have a feature that allows you to answer that question for your own posts.

    And what if one of the featured decides that the published version is too personal, and, despite of the alterations for privacy, all too personal and identifiable?

    Then there's a problem. Either the person can quietly stew and be generally upset, or yell and scream, making themselves even more visible. This isn't a perfect world we live in, and some things just don't have easy solutions.

  • by Luis Casillas ( 276 ) on Friday April 21, 2000 @06:37AM (#1119621) Homepage
    Yeah yeah, so the posters "obviously" had an intent to "get their story out", which "justifies" the inclusion of their stories in the book.

    But the article does not address the issue its own title raises _at all_ beyond suggesting the emails/posts _should_ be in the public domain.

    So, really, who owns the posts?

    And what if one of the featured decides that the published version is too personal, and, despite of the alterations for privacy, all too personal and identifiable?

  • by dougman ( 908 ) on Friday April 21, 2000 @09:15AM (#1119622)
    I read the outpouring of venom on the announcement of the Hellmouth book, and admiteddly I wasn't sure how I felt about all of this user-comment/ownership stuff.

    I was especially concerned that there wasn't a Taco/Hemos post (if there was a missed it, please correct me) that DIRECTLY addressed the question of a perceived incosistency between the "comments owned by poster" text on the Slashdot footer and the charachterization by Hemos of the posts as "a public forum".

    HOWEVER, Rob's comments above resolve any concerns I could see with any of this for two very important reasons:

    1) Rob informed us that this book WOULD be available electronically, and presumably, this means free of charge - (again, please correct me if I'm wrong). This means that we can make the choice to whether we wish to support the chosen charitable organizations involved with the book in harmony with reading and passing along the important messages it contains. Feeling free to pass the text of this book around to as many people as possible seems like something I WANT to do; I'd be willing to host a mirror of the text on a non-commercial area of my web sites. I'm assuming if it's deemed helpful I could be called on to do so.

    2) Rob has stated that we will have the ability to designate our comments as "proprietary" or "public" as soon as possible. This is a very Good Thing on multiple levels: the level of confusion this will clear up on Slashdot, and knowing that the Slash code, and presumably this new functionality, will be "open", it will be possible to use this code as inspiration for the ame functionality in Slash and other GPL'd weblog applications, like the one I use, PHPSlash.

    I don't always post "pro-slashdot" sentiments, so I stand by my objectivity, but Rob/Hemos/Katz deserve a ton of credit and respect here, and those who would otherwise need to grow up.

  • by isaac ( 2852 ) on Friday April 21, 2000 @07:09AM (#1119623)
    This book, though the "profits" are going to some unspecified "charity", is still going to be *sold*, and "expenses" recouped (expenses including the time and salaries of the folk who put it together).

    I post on this forum because it is freely available to the world. I understand the philosophical unease someone might have with formerly "free" comments being gathered and edited for a non-free publication, for someone else's benefit.

    People post comments, to make their ideas heard, but their choice of forum is also a comment, if that makes sense. Some people want ideas to be exchanged freely. I know I feel that way, and so I don't willingly donate my free time to creating content that someone else plans to package and sell.

    I suspect I'm not alone in feeling this way. (Though I stop short of condemning this book. My feelings are mixed on this subject.)

    ObOT: I am, however, livid about Slashdot's new affiliation w/ DoubleClick [slashdot.org]. I encourage all readers to grab a fresh copy of Junkbuster [junkbuster.com] and terminate Slashdot's ad revenue w/ extreme prejudice.


  • OK,
    for the record you may republish any and all of my posts as long as you cite the author... please just be responsible and follow basic Open Content [opencontent.org] guidelines.

    However, I think that if you're going to use our posts from a public forum, you ought to make the book freely available on the web. This only seems appropriate given how you obtained (at least some) of it's content, and considering how important some of that material might be for teens unable or unwilling to purchase the publication on paper.
  • by JonKatz ( 7654 ) on Friday April 21, 2000 @09:45AM (#1119625) Homepage

    ...is a collection of columns written last year, and the excerpts chosen by a book editor. I didn't assemble it. Of course, they are my columns. Is there something here I'm missing, or that isn't clear?
  • by kzinti ( 9651 ) on Friday April 21, 2000 @08:39AM (#1119626) Homepage Journal
    Although there may be copyright issues involving a post, when an actor or politician says something in public there's always the possibility that he can be quoted.

    That would be fine, except for the fact that there's a copyright disclaimer at the bottom of every page on Slashdot, and it reads

    All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners.
    Comments are owned by the Poster. The Rest © 1997-2000 Andover.Net.
    The emphasis is mine. "Comments are owned by the Poster" What does this mean if, anything? I believe it means that Slashdot gives up their public-domain claims on Poster's comments -- if not in a legal sense then at least in the broader moral sense. If it doesn't mean that, then what does it mean?

    That's not a rhetorical question, Rob. I'd like to see an answer. What do you intend "ownership" to mean, if anything?


  • How much money is the life of your child worth to you?

    I think that it'sa bad idea to give the money to the families of the victims. It cheapens the value of their loss. If we were talking about a civil lawsuit, this would be different. What good does "We feel very sorry for you, here will this MONEY make you feel better" do? As sad as it is, those people are gone.

    They should donate the money to a charity that can do some good for people who are still alive.

  • by FPhlyer ( 14433 ) on Friday April 21, 2000 @06:55AM (#1119628) Homepage
    You make an excellent point here. If the comment is owned by the poster, what right does anybody (including andover) have to use the post in any fashion other than that to which the poster originally intended? Personally, I have a real problem knowing that any comments that I might post to slashdot might appear at any time in a book. I really feel that this Hellmouth book has done a GREAT dis-service to the Slashdot Community. YRO: Who owns your Slashdot comments? I can't say it enough. This REALLY BUGS ME. I have NEVER intended for my Slashdot Comments to be used outside of the Slashdot forum. But here is something you CAN quote me on: This will be my final post to Slashdot, UNLESS these guys can give me a button on the Post Comment page to opt out of having my comment used in a forum outside of Slashdot. And that won't be too hard. Just give me a little button that says "Do you consent to allowing John Katz to further his career by using your comment in his next book? . ------------------------------------------- As the owner of the above post, I do not give permission to any entity to use my post in a forum outside of slashdot.org. -------------------------------------------
  • by thal ( 33211 ) on Friday April 21, 2000 @07:05AM (#1119629) Homepage
    If anything, this fits right into a "GPL World." While this is certainly not a definitive legal metaphor, I'll give it a shot...

    Author writes a comment and posts it on Slashdot.

    Hellmouth book takes comment and sells it along with other comments, taking out the less-than-outstanding ones, making it more convenient.

    All originals comments (aside from ones lost due to moderation, but presumably these comments aren't in the book either) are still available for free in Slashdot archives.

    This is certainly in the spirit of freedom, open source, blah, blah.
  • by James Lanfear ( 34124 ) on Friday April 21, 2000 @09:22AM (#1119630)
    Considering that we're discussing copyright issues it seems logical to take a look at what the Copyright Office [loc.gov] has to say.

    Fair use is covered in Circular 21 [loc.gov] (pdf). I found this part quite interesting:

    Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is fair use the factors to be considered shall include--
    1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purposes;
    2. the nature of the copyrighted work
    3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
    4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work
    Looking at the above list of factors, it would seem that 1 and 4 may be problematic. The book is clearly commercial (even if the profits are going to charity), and the included posts influence the market potential of the book considerably (i.e., they are the market potential for the book). There isn't clearly a problem, IMO, but I would definitely want an IP lawyer to take a look at the book before it was published.

    OTOH, reading down a little, it appears that comments can safely be reprinted in their entirety without violating the authors copyright--in particular, it states that short stories, which are far more substantial than most posts, can be used in their entirety. The caveat is that this specific example only applies to classroom use (these are the provisions for educational use), but it would seem to imply that shorter works can be reprinted safely. (Of course 'imply' doesn't mean much, legally.)


  • by drivers ( 45076 ) on Friday April 21, 2000 @07:10AM (#1119631)
    I bet none of the people who are quoted in the book have any problem with it. Unless you are one of the people quoted in the book and you have a problem with it, it doesn't really matter what you think, now does it?
  • by GnrcMan ( 53534 ) on Friday April 21, 2000 @09:51AM (#1119632) Homepage
    Where I come from this borders on plagiarism

    People keep bandying around the word plagiarism and that is 100% dead wrong. Plagiarism is taking someone elses work and claiming it to be your own. I'm assuming these quotes are simply anonymous. Like this:

    One Slashdot reader commented, "I'm a blithering idiot, and a zealot to boot!"

    There's a huge difference between that and plagiarism. They aren't even in the same ball park. Not to mention that accusing an author of plagiarism is somewhat akin to accusing a judge of accepting bribes, or a sports player of throwing a game. It strikes right at the heart of their profession and isn't an accusation that should be leveled lightly.

  • by pkj ( 64294 ) on Friday April 21, 2000 @07:57AM (#1119633)
    heff writes:

    Although there may be copyright issues involving a post, when an actor or politician says something in public there's always the possibility that he can be quoted. The same thing applies here. Thousands already read your post so what's the problem with a few more? If you didn't want your opinion to be heard why voice it in the first place?

    Well, there are quite a number of issues here.

    First off, there is a difference between quoting and publishing. When somoene is quoted, only a part of a larger text is re-printed. When text is re-printed in its entirely, the rules for quoting do not usually apply.

    It should also be noted that things said in public are not in the public domain. For instance, a speech given in public can still be copyrighted. The same applies to sporing events and concerts. Just because a song is played in an open forum certainly does not mean that it can be re-produced or re-broadcast.

    What concerns me most though is that no attempt was made to contact the authors and verify the stories, as this is one of the most important tennants of responsible journalism. Putting something in print that was submitted anonymously is just flat out irresponsible.

    This story has the potential to be an excellent and very powerful book. It is too bad that is nothing more (in essesnce) than a collection of sound bites. Welcome to reporting in the 21st century...

  • by Stonehand ( 71085 ) on Friday April 21, 2000 @07:12AM (#1119634) Homepage
    Hardly. There are other issues involved here, such how the book characterizes Slashdot, and by extension, its users. It would be disingenuous for the book to cite only comments that support his thesis, and then pass this off as the collective work of the Slashdot community, as there were and are dissenters here on even the least controversial issues. If the book implies that everybody here feels that geeks are abused during HS, then that is providing a false impression.

    In addition, it would be decent to cite entire threads -- and whether or not that occurred has not been mentioned. Realize that this is a *discussion* board and *not* a board for posting isolated messages that must stand alone...

    The issue of anonymity hurts the credibility of any such work. Many of us, if sufficiently bored, could probably employ multiple writing styles and positions in order to simulate an entire discussion under the 'Anonymous Coward' epithet. Without at least making some effort to verify individuality and authenticity, the book could not really claim anything much stronger than, "These messages appeared on Slashdot and were attributed to (x) different accounts".

    Quoting people without giving credit, in a published work, raises ethical issues; while there may be a right to quote, one may argue that there IS a responsibility to offer credit. I really would not WANT to be identified on such a permanent medium, out of context, but perhaps some of the posters WOULD want that option. That providing this option might be a tedious burden does not absolve the editors of it, any more than "taxes being onerous" is a legitimate argument for accepting the benefits of citizenship and residency without paying.

    Finally, there are ethical issues about using the speech of others to support charities, most of which work for causes that some of us may oppose...
  • by gargle ( 97883 ) on Friday April 21, 2000 @07:28AM (#1119635) Homepage
    I once read an interview with Weird Al Yankovic, where he said that he would sometimes perform parodies of popular songs without permission, then hope for forgiveness later.

    But what annoys me most about how Slashdot has handled the whole affair is how incredibly self-righteous the Slashdot editors have been about it. There is no tone of apology or asking of forgiveness, such as "We used your posts without permission, we thought it was important, but we're sorry about it."

    Instead, what we have is a big brotherly, condescending, holier than thou attitude. To paraphrase: "We know they would have wanted their comments in the book"

    or "the few (loud) people for whom this is a major stumbling block should most certainly be allowed to determine the destiny of their own words" (translation: you whiners, you should be ashamed of yourselves)

    or "it's a public forum. We can quote you without asking."

    I don't think anyone here would seriously object to having their posts appear in a book. But what we want is to be asked first. It's a simple principle really, and goes a long way towards showing regard for you readers.

    If asking isn't possible, then do as Weird Al Yankovic does, and ask for forgiveness. The condescending and righteous attitude displayed by the editors is disgusting.

  • by wrenling ( 99679 ) on Friday April 21, 2000 @06:38AM (#1119636)
    I have to admit that I was a little surprised (not in a good way) that posts from the whole Hellmouth series were being published.

    Then I thought about some of the things that were said - the feelings that were expressed (I had some A/C posts in the threads somewhere)and the experiences shared. I realized that I didn't just want my words heard by the Slashdot community. That's preaching to the converted. There is a whole, wide world out there that has to learn of the impact of growing up a geek can be - and the scars that it leaves.

    I am still a little ambivalent about the whole thing -- but I have enough trust in Rob & Co to let them run with this ball and see where it takes us.

    I would suggest that the money go to youth outreach groups - ones that could make a difference for younger versions of all of us.

    An almost final thought: a little warning would have been nice that this was coming out. As hurtful as some of the responses were - I think a lot of that was out of surprise, and perhaps, a feeling that perhaps Slashdot might be using its community to promote their own agendas. And then again, the whole thing involved JonKatz -- which causes AutoFlame/Trollz.

    Final note: I bought the book yesterday. And sent it to my parents. I never could make them understand why my highschool years were hell. Hopefully the thousands of words in this book will paint the picture.
  • by Mendax Veritas ( 100454 ) on Friday April 21, 2000 @06:32AM (#1119637) Homepage
    They belong in the public domain. In fact, they cry out to be there.
    But at the same time, at the bottom of every Slashdot page, we find the words:
    Comments are owned by the Poster. The Rest © 1997-2000 Andover.Net.
    So if the author of a comment owns the copyright to it, what legal right do you have to take those comments and use them as you see fit without consulting with the author? Is your moral and legal judgment so flawless (even in your own mind) that you feel free to do anything you think is "right", no matter what?
  • by Orpheus Liar ( 157914 ) on Friday April 21, 2000 @07:23AM (#1119638)
    While a discussion of ownership is an interesting one, abstractly, in this case it seems many of you are missing the true point here. Anyone who followed the media's coverage of this "anniversary" would have seen many stories discussing culpability that variously put things in the laps of the police, the parents (of Harris and Klebold), various flavors of media/stimulation - but hardly a word was said about the systemic abuse perpetrated against the "different" by not only fellow students, but the "adults" in schools as well.
    I work in a high school and not five minutes ago one of the brightest students here approached me and said that she'd been dragged into the office by the "Life Skills" teacher (irony, eh? - and note that the word "teacher" form here on out is used questioningly) for her "inappropriate" dress. After making the kid sit for a half-hour the teacher asked this student what her G.P.A. was and when the student (honestly) replied that it was a 4.0 the teacher sneered, "Kids like you don't get good grades".

    If "Hellmouth" can instigate the _necessary_ dialogue on these issues then I'm all for it and, frankly, bless Jon and Slashdot and Andover for putting it together.
  • by Ludotech ( 176013 ) on Friday April 21, 2000 @07:42AM (#1119639)
    I personaly think that publishing that book is a good thing, and I love that it will also be available in electronic form for free. I do not understand why so many people are upset about it, maybe it's a cultural thing but I don't get what is so bad about someone else making profit from your work (as long as the original work is still accessible and free for other to use and modify). When I post on a public forum, I simply assume that my post might be used by other in ways I never imagined, that's what free communication is all about. Why should the poster care if someone is making a profit from his work? I tought that was what the internet was all about, the sharing of information. The real question is, can I take this book that was made not for profit but to share information, copy it and sell or give away the copies? If not, then that is wrong.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 21, 2000 @07:16AM (#1119640)
    IIAL, and I just wanted to make a few comments. First of all, the fact that this site has "The following comments are owned by whoever posted them" on every discussion page is very important. This sentence doesn't just absolve Slashdot from all responsibility for the content of the posts, it actually confers ownership to the posters. It seems like the Slashdot administrators would like to have it both ways: for the disclaimer to mean that the site is not responsible for the content, while at the same time having the people posting them really not having the right to them. I've seen a few posts about this being a "public" forum, etc, and that because of this they have the right to reproduce the comments and make a profit from them. This just isn't true. First of all, from a legal standpoint, this has no merit. Slashdot would have to post some sort of disclaimer in the membership agreement (or on the page where people submit comments) saying that they reserve the right to reproduce the comments in the future, etc. for them to be able to do so without asking permission. Just because it was "too difficult" for them to obtain permission from everyone doesn't make it legal not to do so. Sure, you've got Jon Katz saying how these stories needed to be told. Maybe that's true morally, but it doesn't make the situation any more right legally.
  • by Gleef ( 86 ) on Friday April 21, 2000 @06:48AM (#1119641) Homepage
    As far as I can tell, the bulk of the content was written by Jon Katz for slashdot, as opposed to being written for the book. Some content was included from other slashdot posters. The employees of Slashdot did the editing, and Andover did the publishing. Therefore, Jon Katz should get authorship credit, since he wrote most of the material.

    Disclaimer: I was not involved in the production of the book, the above is merely my interpretation of various comments by Jon Katz, Commander Taco and Hemos.

  • by Watts Martin ( 3616 ) <layotlNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday April 21, 2000 @07:43AM (#1119642) Homepage
    And what if one of the featured decides that the published version is too personal, and, despite of the alterations for privacy, all too personal and identifiable?

    At risk of sounding harsh, then they shouldn't have posted them to start with.

    Look, folks: how many people read Slashdot on a frequent basis? How many people see any given article or high-rated comment? Thousands? Tens of thousands?

    How many people have seen a substantial part of the "Hellmouth" series? At least tens of thousands? Closer to hundreds of thousands?

    More than you think than will see a book with a print run of, say, 25,000? I've worked in publishing. 25,000 would be an big run for a first printing of something that didn't have the name Danielle Steel or Stephen King on it.

    Wake up, folks. These posts have already been published. There are some valid copyright concerns in theory, but I don't think this can be said to set a "once online, all rights are lost" precedent. (You can, of course, kiss first serial rights in all countries goodbye, but that's another story.)

    The change in media is irrelevant--the question is only whether or not this falls under "fair use" provisions of copyright. If you're prepared to argue that it doesn't, you'd better be prepared to argue against

    • Copying someone else's .sig
    • Forwarding a joke, with or without attribution
    • Posting or forwarding most or all of a short news snippet
    • Clicking the "email this article to a friend" link anywhere
    • Printing out a web page with a recipe and letting someone else photocopy it

    ...you can see where I'm going with this. The media and the distribution of that media aren't relevant to copyright concerns; you don't get to say that those examples are okay but the Voices from the Hellmouth book isn't simply because there's a chance you'll be able to find it at Borders.

  • by Cid Highwind ( 9258 ) on Friday April 21, 2000 @07:31AM (#1119643) Homepage
    I'm not going to name names, but there are a bunch of you who regularly post GPL-the-world, proprietary anything is bad, MP3s deserve to be free, intellectual property is a myth, type posts. Now these same people are whining that their slashdot comments are being quoted in a book.

    How does it feel now? are you going to stop posting anti-copyright diatribes, or do you just think your writing is more deserving of legal protection than anyone else's?

    Notice: I grant permission to the slashdot editors to reprint my comments in part or whole in any form, with or without contacting me.
    The above is now in my user bio section, I encourage everyone else who feels the same way to put something similar in their info.
  • by Syberghost ( 10557 ) <syberghost@@@syberghost...com> on Friday April 21, 2000 @09:27AM (#1119644) Homepage
    Putting something in print that was submitted anonymously is just flat out irresponsible.

    You had me, right up until this statement.

    In the middle of an insightful, well-reasoned post, this is just rubbish.

    If you submit something to Slashdot anonymously, you're not sending it to small, secret group of people; you're sending it directly to several tens of thousands of people worldwide, and you're listing it on search engines where it'll show up to anybody typing a keyword or two [google.com].

    What would be irresponsible would be backtracking the Anonymous postings to identify their poster, so he could be credited; that would completely undermine people's confidence in the anonymity of their postings, and have a chilling effect on a tool that's getting a lot of important messages moved from inside people's brains (where they often aren't accomplishing much) and out into the wide world, where they sometimes are accomplishing useful things.

    Slashdot isn't a private messagebase on a BBS somewhere, it's a public forum.

    It's a bit like a big reader-edited newspaper, which doesn't really have parallels in the non-virtual world because it's not feasible without Tim Berners-Lee's amazing invention [w3.org].

    I assure you, when we collectively interview somebody, he doesn't assume he's speaking to use in our living rooms privately; he assumes he's being published.

    If you post something to Slashdot anonymously, the very act of making it anonymous removes any right you have to hope it remains unpublished, because you've made it unattributable.

  • by SteveM ( 11242 ) on Friday April 21, 2000 @09:07AM (#1119645)
    Let me start by saying that I think that the book is a good thing. I think that the way it was done is a bad thing.

    I agree that this is a story that must be told. I think that it is extemely important that "freaks and geeks" not be persecuted for being different.

    There was a right way to do it. Unfortunately, Andover et. al. didn't choose that way.

    In reading the comments in this thread I've seen a number that express the idea "The issue is too important to worry about the legal issues." or "We have a moral imperative that supercedes any other issues."

    This is the same argument used to murder abortion doctors. This is the same argument that is being used to keep a young Cuban boy from his father. This is the same argument used to destroy research projects and careers in the name of animal rights. This is the same argument used by the religious right against gays. It is used everytime someone 'knows' what is right for everyone else.

    And this is the same argument used by the Pinkerton company to run roughshod over the rights of kids whose only "crime" is that they are different.

    The outrage I have with Andover et. al. is not that they put together this book or even the way they did it. My problem is the attitude they are now displaying after the issues were raised. "We know best." "We are above the law." "We don't have to stand by what is written on every /. page."

    For better or worse we (at least in the US) live by the rule of law, not by the rule of force (in theory at least). You may not like the fact that abortions are permitted, or gays have rights, or that animals are used in experiments, or that kids who are different get persecuted. But you do not have the right to take matters into your own hands and ignore the rights of others.

    I find CmdrTaco's, Jahn Katz's, and Andover's actions both unfortunate and disturbing.

    Steve M

  • by pkj ( 64294 ) on Friday April 21, 2000 @06:33AM (#1119646)
    Jon Katz writes:

    Although I didn't select the messages in this about-to-be published collection, (Since I am legally under contract to another book publisher, I couldn't directly participate in the production of the book,

    Ok, then, who did write the book and why is your name on the cover?


  • by Barney ( 81141 ) on Friday April 21, 2000 @08:26AM (#1119647) Homepage
    I'm just a little feller. I don't post early and often, I'm not 1337, and I've only read half of the DMCA.

    But I'm standing up with you. And Jon and Rob. I hope the book spreads some consciousness about the almost-timeless problem of adolescence, how rough it is for most people, and how most people cope with it okay without losing their sanity, and what can help them make it through instead of making it harder.

    I think it is a good thing, and is the right thing, and I salute the people who went to the effort of doing it. From the kids brave enough to tell the world about their pain and humiliation, to the folks at Andover (who are NOT going to make a lot of money at this, I expect), to Jon and Rob, who also endure more pain and humiliation than they should have to.

    Now here's my two cents on the intellectual property mess.

    It seems that lots of people on /. take IP seriously. Whether it's software patents or click-through licenses or copy protection or GPL, there's a lot of posts and a lot of argument about it. I know it's a topic that I think is interesting and important.

    Now, I'm not as rabidly paranoid as some others, so I think that Jon and Rob are not cleverly scheming to use other people's work for their own devious purposes. I expect that most of the stories published are:
    - not from the people whining about their rights to their posts
    - from people who wanted to tell their story, and would be honored to have it more widely published
    - quite possibly fair use.

    But I don't know, and neither does almost anyone who's posted about it. Therefore, maybe we should wait until it comes out and see if anyone whose work is published feels like their rights have been infringed before we unleash all our righteous rage. There are things Jon has said that I've thought were inaccurate conclusions, but that hardly seems reason to presume that this book is going to have infringing material in it that the copyright owner's going to be upset about.

    In the this-isn't-the-law-but-it's-what-I-think-is-right
    category, I don't think anyone's going to make a lot of profit from this. So I don't really feel that anyone's liable to benefit overmuch from someone else's talent. And the only situation that I can imagine someone getting hurt from their post being published is if they sent to Slashdot expecting that no one they knew would read it, and when it is published as a book, someone does read it and is able to identify them, and they didn't want anyone they knew to read it. But this seems somewhat unlikely. No undue benefit, probably no undue harm -- in my little world, there's no foul.

    And if in your little world, there's some horrible moral lapse or negligence that _might_ be going on, maybe hold judgement and a little trust that the good guys we know and love are doing a good job, until you see the end product?

  • by cowscows ( 103644 ) on Friday April 21, 2000 @06:48AM (#1119648) Journal
    To everyone who's complaining that they don't want their posts quoted, why does it scare you so much to be involved in this? This is something bigger and more important than any one of us, and our own little concerns of property or whatnot.

    I've really only seen two types of angry arguments from the /. crowd over this book. Some people are upset that a whole sentence or two of what they posted in an already public forum is being spread into a more public forum. The rest of the people are complaining that /. is just selling out, trying to make money by exploiting the community it has. I'm pretty sure they've said numerous times that this book is not making them any profit.

    What I haven't seen much of is criticism of the underlying idea, which is that the people publishing this book, and the posts and emails that were quoted in it are trying to fight a culture that has allowed a tradgedy to get far out of hand.

    Why are you whining that Katz is trying to speak out on behalf of people who need a voice? In this case, it doesn't sound like he's really trying to speak for the geek community as a whole (which he sometimes seems to do), but rather just relaying a message that has found much discussion among us.

    I guess the point is, most of you need to stop your petty selfish whining. Shut up and swallow the whole "information should be free" concept. If you don't believe that, well, fair enough, but /. is a community built on sharing information, and if you don't like it, then maybe you shouldn't post here.

    ps. - There have been a few posts of people actually arguing the real issue, and while they have point some valid points across, I don't think they're significant enough that they should prevent a spreading of the views of thousands of others.

  • by grahamkg ( 5290 ) on Friday April 21, 2000 @06:45AM (#1119649)

    Here's the text of an email I sent to Jon yesterday in response to learning about the publication of the book:

    Subject: Hellmouth Thanks

    Hi Jon!

    Thank you for making it into a book! I expect I'll buy the book, and I look forward to reading it, the fact that I've read the "Hellmouth" pieces on /. notwithstanding. I'm not one of the important readers, however. The important readers will be the ones who aren't aware of the Hellmouth.

    This is really important. No, I don't expect some revolution to come from your book, but it *will* plant some seeds. It's a way to fight back, to raise awareness in a techologically sophisticated yet socially barbaric world.

    Thank you thank you thank you!!!!!!!!


    Thank you too, CmdrTaco!

    'Nuf said.


  • by heff ( 24452 ) on Friday April 21, 2000 @06:42AM (#1119650)
    Although there may be copyright issues involving a post, when an actor or politician says something in public there's always the possibility that he can be quoted. The same thing applies here. Thousands already read your post so what's the problem with a few more? If you didn't want your opinion to be heard why voice it in the first place?
  • by cprincipe ( 100684 ) on Friday April 21, 2000 @06:46AM (#1119651) Homepage

    Everybody who is upset about getting their /. posts quoted in the book are upset because of one of two reasons:

    1. They didn't get their two seconds of fame, because all the posts were stripped of names. Now, nobody in the print world will know of the offended poster's infinite wisdom.
    2. They didn't get their two cents of royalties, because Jon Katz and Rob Malda are actually getting money from publication of the book, even though they are turning over that money to charity.

    Jon and Rob are not idiots. If they were to seek permissions for all the posts they chose to include, they would run into the following problems:

    • Everyone who posted as an AC would be cropping up claiming they had produced the quote. Ensuing battle would take months.
    • People would be pissed about not making any money off the publication. Ensuing battle would take months.
    • People would refuse to allow intelligent quotes to appear in the book on the sole basis that they hate Jon Katz. Ensuing idiocy would occur perpetually.

    Grow up and get a life outside of /.

When in doubt, mumble; when in trouble, delegate; when in charge, ponder. -- James H. Boren