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Old 12-30-2007, 06:47 AM   #1 (permalink)
follower of the child's crusade?
 
I need some advice about copyright

I am thinking of collecting ghost stories from friends/acquaintances/random people - by meeting them or email or whatever, and possibly publishing (probably only online - because Im not much of a writer, but its a project Im interested in)

But what I am not sure about, if I ask someone to tell me about their experience, and say they mail it to me - and I put it into my own words and publish it - am I violating their copyright? Is there anything I should ask them to sign or agree to?
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Old 12-30-2007, 08:46 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I can't say how it works in the UK, but over here copyright only applies on written work, not things shared verbally. It would probably be polite to let your contributors know what they're contributing to, the process their contribution will go through, and the potential exposure their story will receive. You should probably let them know that they'll receive an acknowledgement in the book or something.
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Old 12-30-2007, 09:02 AM   #3 (permalink)
follower of the child's crusade?
 
thanks.

copywrite law is international I think.

do you think it is still no problem if they send me their story in an email and I rework it?

I absolutely would tell everyone why I was collecting the stories.
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Old 12-30-2007, 09:38 AM   #4 (permalink)
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As an editor, you could collect them as anonymous stories (they just might have been around for centuries). And you could pay the sources as ghostwriters.


No pun intended.
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Old 12-30-2007, 10:00 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Strange Famous
thanks.

copywrite law is international I think.

do you think it is still no problem if they send me their story in an email and I rework it?

I absolutely would tell everyone why I was collecting the stories.
I think if your intent is disclosed, they'd have a very hard time wining any court case. I think in the real world, you probably don't need to worry about it all that much. If people have a problem with you using it in the way you tell them you'll be using it, they probably just won't give you the story. And if they do, and the permission to use the story is explicit and documented, you're in the clear.
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Old 12-30-2007, 10:04 AM   #6 (permalink)
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IANAL. However, this is how I understand it:

Once something is written down, the writer automatically gains copyright on it. I imagine emailing would have the same effect. You would then need that person's permission to use that, or create a derivitive work of it - ie, putting it in your own words. This could be as simple as the person including the phrase 'I give you permission to modify this as you see fit and include it in your collection.' in the email (but IANAL, so don't trust me on exactly what they need to say.

Furthermore, there's the issue of where the person who tells you the story got it from. Maybe it's a legend that's been around for a long time, and is in the public domain. No problem. You can have copyright on your retelling/compilation of the story. But, what if the person subconsciously got the idea from a Steven King novel? Or from a professionaly storyteller?

You might run into problems if you published said story, even if you didn't know someone else had a copyright on it.

As much as I hate to say it, you might need to retain the services of a copyright lawyer, just to answer some questions and make sure you cover yourself properly.
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Old 12-30-2007, 01:34 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Get a lawyer to draw you up a release that give you rights to use their stories, and gets them to accept that they are not plagiarising the stories.

Nobody will come after you until you make money, and if you do, the releases will mean that you can keep what you make either way.
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