Is it OK to quote a blog post without asking for permission from the author?
I would think so. No one asks a book author for permission to quote a passage from a book*. It is implied that when someone publishes a text, then it is out there for the world to quote and recombine in a myriad of new contexts, which the author doesn’t expect to control.
A blog is more of a greyzone than a book, though, due to its interactive, informal and often personal diary-like style. Nevertheless, I think that it is generally OK to quote blog posts, respectfully and considerately, without asking for permission.
Is it OK to quote comments?
Blog comments lie further into the greyzone. The boundaries are blurred… Is a comment a publication or a private conversation, or something in between?
Is it socially appropriate to quote comments left on one’s own blog? I would think that it is (considerately, of course), that the comments have been ‘given’ to the blog owner to refer to, but I am not 100% sure.
What about comments in conversations which one participates in on someone else’ blog? Comment tracks can be very inspiring with brilliant and original thoughts that deserve to shine for a broader audience, to inspire and combine with new thoughts in a wider context. But is it appropriate to quote them out of the context they were written for?
What about forum posts in open forums? The more conversation-like writing is, the more borderline socially unacceptable it seems to quote passages out of their original context.
There is always the option to ask, of course, but then it may get awkward if some of the comments don’t survive the editing phase after all, and also, it may slow down the idea phase to have to factor in permission-chasing.
There do of course exist a code of conduct for sharing content on the Internet- the Creative Commons framework, but it doesn’t really address the key issues of this type of content sharing: which is privacy rather than copyright.
So there seems to be a lack of clear rules on this area.
My posts, comments on this blog, and comments on other blogs can be quoted without asking me by persons involved in the conversations as long as it is done in a manner that is:
- Considerate, respectful, and appropriate.
Please consider if content may be too sensitive or out of place for a particular context or audience. (That is important! Ask if in doubt…)
Please also help protect my privacy by quoting content only to my online ID, even if you happen to know my real name
- In good faith. Nothing I write may be used in a misleading, information-distorting manner, to mock anyone (including but not limited to me), or for other malign, self-serving, manipulative, distorting purposes.
I encourage other bloggers to make a permission statement on their blog that outlines how their content can be quoted (posts, comments, and maybe other types of content I haven’t thought of!). Please feel free to link to it from the comment track below; I would love to know others bloggers’ permissions/boundaries and develop a clearer sense of general unwritten rules for integrating interactive content.
* Copyright violation is an entirely different matter, which I will not discuss here