RPG Anthology, blog comments and Creative Commons

With the upcoming RPG Blog Anthology some discussion about copyright and other legal issues on the RPG Bloggers Network was inevitable. Perhaps you already have read the posts on The Bonemaster and The Core Mechanic.

Jonathan from The Core Mechanic included comments from the original posts into the first draft of the RPG Blog Anthology. That is not uncommon for this kind of publication and it was his impression that comments are considered part of the blog post and that the comment’s author has already given the blog author the right to share, modify and republish the post. Others are not so sure and added some “Terms of Service” to their site to make sure they don’t have to ask the permission of the blog’s author when they want to use the comment in future publications.

And perhaps you’ve noticed that I decided to release the content of this blog under a Creative Commons license. Then it struck me! I already have a binding contract with Jonathan in which I gave him a non-exclusive license to publish one of my blog posts in the upcoming RPG Blog Anthology. Does he have to release the anthology under the CC now, too? Or have I broken my agreement with him? At first I was a bit worried, but then I noticed a small word that at once solves everything: non-exclusive. The CC license is non-exclusive, so as the owner of my content I am still allowed to enter any other non-exclusive agreements.

But back to the comments issue. From what I know the US law regarding copyright etc. has already been adapted to the internet age. That’s not the case in many other countries like Germany, where I live. That makes things a bit more difficult. But even without a TOS we can take some things for granted:

  1. the comments are owned by their respective authors
  2. the comment’s author already gave you a world-wide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, modify, adapt and publish the comment solely for the purpose of displaying on your blog

I thought about adding some legal mumbo-jumbo in addition to the CC license already there, but I decided against it. When I want to use a comment in something like the RPG Blog Anthology I will just ask nicely for the author’s permission. And if I don’t get it or I can’t contact him or her? Then I am obviously out of luck and live will go on…