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Interchange: A Statement on Fair Use

Interchange is an archive for online commentaries Emi posts to various message boards and mailing lists.

As you can imagine, more than a few people have contacted me over the years requesting that I remove their comments from this website. Some were quite nasty, calling me names and threatening lawsuits, while others were polite and explained to me why they did not want their statements to be posted publicly.

What I need people to understand is that "interchange" only archives my own contributions to various email lists and other public spaces, and does not re-publish other people's posts or re-construct entire conversations. Of course, I am usually writing these comments in response to other people's comments, and often quote their comments for the purpose of commentary and criticism--which does not require permission from the author of the quoted material under the fair use doctrine.

For more discussion of the legality and ethics of quoting other people's words, or what makes these spaces "public," see the following exchanges:

That said, I understand that not everybody understands when they are posting comments to a public forum, or the full impact of making public statements. Further, while I try not to misrepresent or distort other people's views, someone who is quoted may feel differently. Therefore, I offer following options in lieu of deleting their comments altogether.

  1. If you feel that your words were misrepresented, distorted, or quoted out of context, I offer to publish, with your permission, your entire comment or post instead of just a small portion of it. I would also offer to publish any explanation or clarification you provide for quotes I use.
  2. If you feel that readers would benefit from knowing further about where you are coming from, I offer to include a link to your blog, website, article, or any other resource you provide.
  3. If you wish to correct or clarify the statements that I quoted, I offer to publish corrections or clarifications you provide along with the original quote. It would probably help my readers understand your comments better too.
  4. If you feel that there is an extenuating circumstance that would warrant the removal of your name and other personally identifiable information from this site, please explain it to me. It is not likely that I would delete your comment completely, but I will remove names and other identifying information when that seems appropriate.

I am, of course, not legally obligated to offer any of these solutions, but I make them available as a matter of courtesy. If you have any questions, please feel free to email emi AT eminsm DOT org to discuss further.