This is Part Two in the blog series, Copyright Protection for Internet Content.
Most blogs have an interactive element and invite readers to submit comments to each of the postings. If the comment qualifies for copyright protection, the person submitting the comment owns that copyright. Some comments may not qualify for copyright-protection because, for example, they are too short or consist only of factual information. Here are examples of comments that would not qualify for copyright protection:
“I Agree!” - Too short for copyright protection
“The last three teams to win the Super Bowl were the Seattle Seahawks, the Baltimore Ravens, and the New York Giants.” – Just a fact, which on its own is not eligible for copyright protection
Most agree that the blogger has an implied license to post reader comments even if the blogger has no written terms of service giving the blogger an express license to post the comments. Sometimes, the blogger will want to do more with the comments than simply post them in the blog comment section. For example, a blogger might want to use some comments in marketing materials for the blog or in a subsequent book based on the blog. To take such actions, the blogger should have provisions included in the blog’s terms of service authorizing such use. For example, here’s a provision that the fictitious blog, aptly titled the VeryBestBlog, might incorporate into its terms of service:
The VeryBestBlog does not claim ownership of comments or any other content you submit. However, by submitting a comment to the VeryBestBlog, you grant us the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, non-exclusive right and license to use, reproduce, modify, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, and display your comment, and to incorporate your comment in other works in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed.