Heh. That'll larn 'em, right?
Of course ... actually reproducing the letters is, in and of itself, a violation of copyright. Not, technically, by Google itself, but by Chillingeffects.com. This is the thing that people keep failing to understand about correspondence. People think, "Hey, I've got the letter or message, so obviously I own it. I can do what I want, I can publish to my website, I can do whatever."
No. Wrong wrong wrong wrong WRONG-O, Mary Lou!
Absent formal signed releases (or, at the very least, an email message saying, "Sure, fine, go ahead and do what you want, as long as you don't change the meaning of what I said"), the copyright to the content of a letter or email message is generally considered to be held by the person writing or company in whose name it is sent, depending on whether or not the letter is sent as part of a work assignment. In this case, the copyright to the messages would be held by (drum roll, please!) ... The Church of Scientology. Boo-yah!
Now all that said, companies and big cheeses of that ilk will generally leave people alone when they publish, because they usually already look bad, and doing anything more will just make them look worse.
THAT said ... how much worse could the Church of Scientology actually look? What would it cost them at this stage to go after chillingeffects.com? The correspondence between them would doubtless be public and entirely amusing ... for the short duration of the site's remaining existence.Posted by iain at April 18, 2002 12:43 AM