A Comment on Comments

A couple of days ago, Josh Catone had a post up asking "Who owns all these comments?". The post was inspired by an article by Hank Williams asking "Who has comment copyright ownership?". On ReadWriteWeb's comment policy Josh writes:

Whenever someone leaves a comment on this blog, I think the assumption is that while we may not own the comment itself (we won't try to stop you from posting it elsewhere), we at least have been granted full publishing rights to use it as we please. We've always reserved the right to republish comments in other posts (with attribution), as well as remove comments we felt were offensive or inappropriate.

This sounds like a sound policy. A bit discouraging though that he writes that he "think[s] the assumption is ...". Anyhow, I was inspired to comment on Josh's article.

As I point out, I think it is a good idea to have a clearly stated comment policy on your blog, especially for larger blogs that get lots of comments.

Hosted comment service Disqus also joined the discussion and suggested a few points of a "Commenter's Bill of Rights", including a commenter's right to edit and remove his comments, access to all of his comments, even if it has been deleted on a blog, and the right to use his own comments as blog posts. As for publishers, their rights should include whether or not someone is allowed to comment on their blog, to delete a comment, and to modify a comment, as long as the original copy is still accessible and the edit is transparent. All of these I think are valid points and in the interest of both commenters and publishers.

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