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Who owns material / posts on reddit? Answered

I was just wondering, people post all sorts of cool stuff on www.reddit.com, but who actually owns the material? Am I allowed to use it, or is it copyrighted to someone else? Does the person who posted the material own it, or do they give up ownership when they post it onto the internet? Anybody know?


EVERYTHING is copyrighted until and unless explicitly put into the public domain or the copyright runs out.

I haven't looked at reddit's user agreement, so the following is a guess based on what would be reasonable: By using the system, folks are undoubtedly giving reddit permission to publish their material, but probably not giving up their other rights or giving reddit's readers permission.

In other words, if you want to copy it anywhere else you need to go back to whoever owns the copyright -- the orignal author or whoever they assigned the rights to -- and get permission. They may say yes, they may say yes if you pay a sufficient amount, they may say no -- it's their choice.

*IF* the material carries one of the "share-alike" licenses, such as one of the Creative Commons licenses, the author has given blanket permission to do certain specific things with it without having to ask first, though there may be specific conditions attached to this (you may not be allowed to alter it, you may have to make sure everyone can see who the author was, and so on.)

The Library of Congress website has a good description of what copyright is and how it works. The Creative Commons website has good descriptions of what their licenses mean and how _they_ work.

If in doubt -- if it isn't yours, and you don't have permission either directly or through a share-alike license, and you don't KNOW that it has either aged out of copyright or deliberately been put into the public domain -- don't use it.

So then, how does someone like Ray William Johnson get around that (assuming you know who he is). I mean, he gets other people's videos off youtube and other sites, and uses them in his videos! Plus, he's a youtube partner, so clearly youtube doesn't seem to think there's a copyright issue in there...

Most likely, he contacts the owners and asks permission. With permission, there's no issue.

He *may* be cheating on Fair Use and the Parody Exception. But that's dangerous water to be swimming in unless you know exactly what you're doing.

(Caveat: I Am Not A Lawyer. But I am a musician and sound tech, and I work with intellectual property in other forms, so I've had reason to educate myself a bit about copyright. The rules for traditional media are relatively well established. The rules for the Internet and for sampling are still being worked out, and "I made a mistake" is not a legal defense. I strongly recommend not risking it; there are too many people actively looking for test cases, not to mention the pure copyright trolls. Get permission, or use something else that you _can_ get permission for, or hire a real lawyer of your own to give you case-by-case advice.

Thi$ i$ not $omething you $hould take unnece$$ary ri$k$ with.

+1. Also why I encourage PD licensing (which the vast majority of my instructables are).