Thanks for posting your comments. I feel I should reply to you and to
the list members about this.
The matter of copyright and intellectual property is a complex one,
and whilst I have studied some aspects of it I am neither an expert
nor a law student.
As far as I understand it, material posted to Birding-Aus is NOT in
the public domain. Just because it has been published does NOT make it
so. Yes, it has been PUBLISHED, but the words and expressions are
still the intellectual property of the AUTHOR. As Laurie Knight has
pointed out earlier today, if anyone wants to cite someone else's
comments, that is fine, but the accepted protocol is to use quotation
marks for direct quotation, and at least acknowledge the source
whether using the author's own words or not (Laurie Knight, 2010, 19
June) - yes, just like that. I've put the full reference at the bottom
of this post - I'm in the habit of doing that because I'm a suffering
uni student once more.
In academic terms, failing to acknowledge the source properly is
called plagiarism. It is called the same thing in the publishing
world, and because putting something onto the web is a form of
publishing, I think that failing to acknowledge a source is definitely
plagiarism. So, anyone is free to make reference to information in a
Birding-aus posting, but the source SHOULD be properly acknowledged.
There are lots of ways of doing that, but as Laurie points out, using
the archive is probably the simplest, because it is a permanent record
(as permanent as web-based things go, I guess). The archive URL
(Internet "address") is referred to as a "permalink" and is unique for
Once someone has posted a comment, it is public, or published, and can
then be cited and referred to - one of the reasons why we all need to
be careful about any comments made about other people or organisations.
But the words in the comment, and any data or information posted with
it, are still the intellectual property of the author. Anyone can then
refer to that posting, and as long as they acknowledge the source,
there is no need to seek the author's permission, no more than we
would seek Tim Dolby's permission to quote from his outstanding guide,
"Where to See Birds in Victoria" (Dolby et al., 2009). In practice, we
don't need to use academic referencing when referring to another
member's posting because we can include the original in our reply.
Images posted online are an even more complex area. Many people are
under the impression that an image published on a "public" page, such
as a blog or Google Group, or Flickr, is freely available for anyone
else to use. It is NOT. The Creative Commons Licensing system is one
way that authors / photographers and so on give permission for LIMITED
use of their material, and anyone who is interested in how this works
should read about how organisations such as Flickr implement it. But
unless an author / photographer specifically assigns a CCL to a "work"
then it CANNOT be used by a third party. Of course, legislation is
always playing catch-up with technology, and most of us have copied an
image from a website for one use or another, because it is easy to do
it. The fact that we have broken the law by copying several bird
photos to our computer to study ID features probably doesn't bother
the copyright owner - but of course re-publishing them is another
matter entirely. Providing a weblink to someone else's image is
usually considered acceptable, as long as it is clear who the owner
is. Embedding someone else's image in your own web page by using
scripts or hyperlinks is certainly not acceptable.
So in summary:
When you post a message to birding-aus you are publishing your comments
Your comments are your own intellectual property
Anyone who repeats or refers to your comments outside Birding-Aus
should acknowledge their source
If you post an image or map it can be linked to from another site, but
not embedded in someone else's site
Well, that's a lot longer than tuppence worth, but there it is.
Birding-Aus List Owner
Geelong Victoria Australia
Dolby, T., Johns, P, & Symonds, S. (Editors) (2009). Where to see
birds in Victoria. Crows Nest, N.S.W. : Jacana Books.
Knight, L. (2010, June 19). The netiquette of pointing to websites.
Message posted to the Birding-Aus mailing list. Retrieved on 19 June
2010 from http://bioacoustics.cse.unsw.edu.au/birding-aus/2010-06/msg00248.html
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