Who owns blog comments?

Over the weekend, I had the thought, “Who owns the comments on
this blog?

The Reasonable Man blog has a
nice summary
of copyright law on this issue
and I think Charles’ interpretation of the
law is a well-reasoned one. While I already had a Creative Commons copyright
notice on this site, I added the following sentence:

Note that when you leave a comment on this site, you are agreeing that your
comment also falls under the terms of this Creative Commons

Remember, just because the blog comment was posted in public view doesn’t
mean it’s still not copyrighted. The commenter doesn’t give up ownership of her
post just because she left it on your site. Now, do I agree with the law on this
one? Absolutely not. But that’s the way it stands right now…

5 Responses to “Who owns blog comments?”

  1. Possibly a related question:

    A teacher asked me today:

    “The school is requiring me to post my lesson plans on the school website. Who holds the copyright for the lesson? Does the school, or does the teacher?”

    An interesting question. I know there is no copyright for schools, but can a school force you to publish your lessons? Who “owns” that content? Should the teacher be able to choose who they collaborate with? Or are all teacher lesson plans “open source”?

    Any answers? We want an open source society, but we also value intellectual property.

  2. Scott, great post. I’m going to follow your lead and add that comment to my blog.

    In regards to Brandt’s comment, my response would be that if a teacher developed it for work, or as a result of a work project, then it’s considered work for hire…and belongs to the school district. That means they can post it as they like, they=school district.

    So…is my perception correct, O Legal One? (that’s you, Scott)

    Best wishes,
    Miguel Guhlin
    Around the Corner-MGuhlin.net

  3. Yes, I think Miguel’s right on this one. Whether districts give the intellectual property rights to teachers or reserve them for the organization as “work for hire,” I think more collective bargaining agreements need to have this as an explicit provision or policy (like most universities now do). It would provide a lot of clarity to folks, particularly as publishing to large audiences becomes ever easier.

  4. I know this is a definite newbie question but how to I license my site under creative commons? Do I just add the text like the licensing that is posted on your blog?

  5. Hi Dee, yes, just go to


    answer the questions, and then use whatever language you want to link to the page. Alternatively, Creative Commons will give you some graphics you can post on your blog.

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