I like your website and got great info on disclaimer [[ ed: they even wrote about my disclaimer in BusinessWeek ]], so I decide to ask you about what to worry about when creating a blog to include others ideas?
Specifically, I work with people with disabilities and want to create my first blog with the goal: ” Everyone’s ideas and resources on participation of individuals with complex communication needs in society. ”
What kind of rights disclaimer do you suggest? Should I have them send me their ideas and I post it on the site or should they write it in comments or another section? In addition, what permission do I need if they send me photos/video?
You are opening up a great barrel of monkeys with this question, though it’s an important one. As you note, I have put a lot of time — and legal fees — into coming up with a disclaimer for content that people submit to this site, comments and questions, that ends up being simplified as “by submitting a question or comment you’re agreeing to my terms of service, which are: you relinquish any subsequent rights of ownership to your material by submitting it on this site.”
Once in a blue moon someone complaints about this release of rights, but my logic has always been that I can’t possibly track everyone who comments and yet as a highly visible site, sometimes I’ll quote a comment someone’s left in an article I write or even in a book. To track everyone down to get permission would be a nightmare, so it’s easier to gain rights in advance.
The basic concept is that if you’re going to publish someone else’s ideas, you want to acknowledge their authorship (in my opinion) and simultaneously should make it clear to people who do submit their ideas, images, articles, etc to you that they are not therefore going to be a fractional owner of your business or any element of it. Otherwise you could come to me and say ‘because you used my question, I want x% of the revenue your site produces to reflect my authorship and ownership of my words’ which, as you can imagine, would be problematic!
There’s a well-known legal document that covers this situation, fortunately, called a Work For Hire, which has lots of helpful boilerplate legal wording about transfer of ownership of a work’s intellectual property. You can Google it. One reference I found useful: Copylaw.com’s article on WFH, which helpfully explains that for WFH to apply, the work (in this case, contributions from other users of the site) must fall into one of the statutory categories detailed in the Copyright Act:
“(1) a translation, (2) a contribution to a motion picture or other audiovisual work, (3) a contribution to a collective work (such as a magazine), (4) as an atlas, (5) as a compilation, (6) as an instructional text, (7) as a test, (8) as answer material for a test, (9) or a supplementary work (i.e., “a secondary adjunct to a work by another author” such as a foreword, afterword, chart, illustration, editorial note, bibliography, appendix and index).”
I think that it’s #3 that is where you want to focus your attention.
Then again, you might not want to be a copyright or intellectual property lawyer in your spare time, so instead, you can simply have a clear disclaimer, as I have, and if someone sends in a photo or article, send back a canned message detailing your expectations of the release of rights and ownership and once they respond “understood, and accepted” proceed.
Good luck. I’ll hope some additional interesting comments appear to understand different perspectives on this matter too.