This document is not current, and is kept only for archival purposes. Please refer to Everything2 Help for all up-do-date help documents.

Copyright Owners: see E2 Copyright Violations

Q. What is copyright anyway?

Copyright is a legal mechanism that ensures authors, musicians and artists are allowed to profit from their hard work. Essentially, it grants a work's creator a sort of licence to decide who can do what with the work, including reproducing, selling and displaying it. The default position is that only the copyright holder may do any of these things. Copyright applies automatically; the writer does not need to add a copyright notice to the work.

Related nodes: copyright, copyright extension, Photographing Copyrights, US Copyright for Recipes

Q. That's nice, but so what? How does it apply to me?

Actually, in a couple of ways.

First, remember that you own the copyright to your own writeups. Unlike some similar sites, Everything2 does not demand that you relinquish your copyright or license your work under a Public License. Instead, you retain all rights to your work, and by submitting a writeup all you are doing is allowing E2 to publish it on their website. This means that if you do find anyone stealing your work, it's up to you to stop them.

Related nodes: Who owns our writeups?, The Marty McKolskey Incident, Copyright and Copywrong Concerns for Fiction Writers, Releasing writeups into the public domain

Q. You said a couple of ways. What else?

Quite a lot. You see, Everything2 likes to follow the law and do the right thing. Well, sometimes, anyway. And after many years of dabbling with different policies, nowadays we actively enforce copyright law. This makes E2 a more intellectually honest, original and creative community. It also means that nobody can accuse us of having double standards towards copyright.

As Everything2 follows Unites States copyright law, the DMCA's Safe Harbour provisions probably mean that legally, we could get away with a policy of only enforcing copyright when an owner complained. But that's not our policy any more. The specific reasons why we changed are discussed more fully E2 Copyright Changes. But in any case, actively enforcing copyrights is the right thing to do.

Related nodes: Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act, E2 Copyright Changes

Q. So can I use copyrighted material in my writeups?

With certain conditions, yes. Copyright law makes provision for Fair Use of parts of a copyrighted work. However, it doesn't give a strict definition of what constitutes Fair Use, leaving it up to courts on more or less a case-by-case basis. That wasn't much good for us, so we set some limits and rules:

Firstly, you must cite your sources naming the copyright holder if possible. Quoted text should be marked up by a <blockquote> tag or some other method of making it very clear that you didn't write it. For excepts shorter than a sentence, using speech marks inline "like this" is acceptable too.

Secondly, in all cases, your writeup must be 2/3 original material - in other words, the original material must be double the cited material. This means if you have 200 words of copyrighted sources, you must have 400 words of your own work, be it analysis, a review, a story or a big angry rant.

Also, there is a limit on how much of a work you're allowed to quote. This varies depending on the type of source you're quoting

Lyrics and poetry:
Cited material cannot exceed 250 words.
(If the cited work is less than 250 words then the entire work can be cited.)

Copyrighted fiction and non-fiction:
Cited material cannot exceed 10% of work or 1000 words, whichever is less.
(If the work is less than 1000 words then cited material must not exceed 10% of work).

USENET posts, Messageboard entries and emails:
As long as they don't fall into the above categories, cited material cannot exceed 500 words.
(If the cited work is less than 500 words then the entire work can be cited.)

Related nodes: Fair Use, Using copyrighted works, E2 FAQ: How to cite your sources, copyright violation

Q. But I want to node this great short story. What if the author gives me permission?

If you get permission from the copyright holder, you can use as much of a work as you like, with no rules about original content or word-limits. You still have to make it clear it isn't your work, though, to avoid plagiarism. In fact, even if your use of a work falls within our Fair Use guidelines, we'd still encourage you to try and get permission from the holder. Make sure you get permission in writing (or email), and keep it safe.

If the copyright holder says no, then you can't use the full work. However, you can still quote from it under the Fair Use guidelines; just note in your writeup that the excerpt was used without permission.

Related nodes: All-purpose, handy-dandy Copyright Release/Permission Request Form

Q. I want to node something that's in the Public Domain. How can I do this?

Some works are in the Public Domain. This means that they are not covered by copyright laws, and may be freely reproduced, even for profit. A work can be placed into the public domain by its author, or after its copyright expires. As they aren't copyrighted, there are no Fair Use limits on placing Public Domain works on Everything2. You can use the Public Domain guidelines chart to determine if a work is in the Public Domain or not.

Even though there are no copyright restrictions on Public Domain works, you still can't pass them off as your own, as that would be plagiarism. You also need to think about the value of a PD piece; is it important enough to belong on E2? If it is and you want to node it, read and follow the guidelines in E2 FAQ: Noding Public Domain Works.

Related nodes: public domain, Public Domain guidelines chart,

Q. So this translation of the Bible must be in the Public Domain, right?

Not necessarily. Translations of Public Domain works become new works, and are copyrightable in their own right. So even if the original text is ancient (like the Bible or the Odyssey), a modern translation is likely to be copyrighted.

Q. What if I translate my favorite Cambodian rap group's lyrics into English for E2?

Unless you have permission, any translation is unauthorised. These are a bit like copyrighted works, you can only use them under the Fair Use provisions discussed above That means limited quotes only depending on the work, and at least double the cited work in original content.

Q. I want to add a press release to E2. How do I do that?

The purpose of press releases in the media is to disseminate the information contained within to the widest possible audience. Citing parts of a press release here on E2 is okay, but simply noding a press release in with some minimal formatting, and without further context is not. Noders are asked to follow the guidelines for any non-original content. You may excerpt parts of a press release as a quote or as a part of a citation. Plan on wrapping it with your own exposition, explanation, personal experience with at least double the cited work in original content.

Q. What are the copyright issues about noding recipes?

See E2 FAQ: Recipes for the rules, and US Copyright for Recipes for some background.

Q. How come I see so many writeups that clearly breach these rules?

Everything2 has evolved and changed over the years. When the current copyright policy was introduced, every effort was made to bring the whole database into compliance. However, it's very big - around half a million writeups - so quite a few non-compliant writeups have slipped through the net. If you encounter such a writeup, post a Writeup Deletion Request or ask an Editor.

Q. I'm still confused! Who can help me?

The Copyright Salvage Team are a group of users that help out with copyright issues. The best way of reaching them is to send a private message to Content_Salvage, their shared User account. They can advise you if a writeup is compliant with current policies, and what to do if it isn't. They also give out a "CST Approved" tag to writeups that they pass as copyright-compliant. If you have an urgent issue, you can also contact a Content Editor or Administrator for help.

E2's Fair Use rules - A summary:

  1. Cite your sources.
  2. Your writeup must be 2/3 original material.
  3. There are limits to how much you can cite (see above).

Useful sources:

How to check if a work is in the public domain:

From the IUPUI Copyright Management Center:
How to Secure Permission to Use Copyrighted Works:
How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work:

The Copyright Salvage Team Charter

-Note, you can skip to the CST FAQ section below if you just want a quick answer. Also See: E2 FAQ: Copyrighted Material

The Copyright Salvage Team (CST) was formed  in mid August 2003 in response to the new E2 copyright policy.  The CST originally operated under the auspices of the Copyright Redemption Quest  During the Quest, the Copyright Salvage Team (CST) reviewed over 550 writeups submitted by 97 different E2 authors. 535 of the writeups were deemed compliant with the new policy and the authors were encouraged to add the CST Approved tag as an indication that the writeup had passed a formal inspection. The text of these reviews was stored for future reference in a series of documents titled CST_Storage_n.  A summary of the compliant reviews was created in Copyright Compliant Lyrics and Poems.  

The Quest formally ended on 22 September 2003, and the idea of continuing the CST as an ongoing service to the E2 community was considered.  This document formalizes the results of those discussions and provides a working framework for the CST's continuing operations.  It is intended to be a working model that will evolve as new ideas and techniques emerge.

Mission & Mandate

The CST's primary purpose is to provide a service to the E2 community, authors, editors and management.  We perceive that the transition to a copyright-compliant database has benefits for all involved and our goal is to facilitate that transition wherever possible.  To date we have identified three primary areas where we feel we can be of service:

Reviews. The CST will provide quick and competent reviews of existing or draft writeups for compliance with the E2 copyright policy.  Compliant writeups will be authorized to add the CST Approved link indicating that they have been reviewed.  It is important that authors understand that the CST Approved ONLY indicates compliance with the E2 copyright policy and does not guarantee that their writeup won't be nuked for other reasons.

Advice. The CST has developed a certain expertise in the application of the E2 copyright policy through significant hands on experience applying it to a wide variety of writeups.  This experience is a resource that can be tapped by the E2 community and the CST intends to respond to copyright-related questions from any source.  It is important to note however that none of the CST members have professional legal experience and the E2 management has the final word in all cases.

Rescue or Removal. Typically the CST_Group attempts to work with authors to bring writeups into compliance with the E2 copyright policy. When this process fails, the CST_Group includes Content Editors, who take responsibility for removing non-compliant writeups from the database as required.


Reviews.  Requests for CST reviews will be initiated by sending a message to the Content_Salvage user.  CST members, logged on as  Content_Salvage will assume responsibility for the review request by posting a "Review Note" in the "Pending" area of CST_Chat AND removing the original message from the author from the list.  If the writeup is deemed compliant, the reviewer will post the full text of the review in the "Completed" area of CST_Chat and notify the author, authorizing them to add the CST Approved tag.  The CST Admins will monitor the reviews for quality and move the completed reviews to long term storage. 

Authors will be responsible for removing the CST Approved tag from their work if ANY changes are made after the CST review, unless the modified writeup has been resubmitted for CST review. The writeup may still be compliant, but the CST Approved tag is not valid once changes have been made. 

The CST Approved tag can serve as an indication that the writeup has been reviewed, and is believed to be compliant. Anyone caught adding the CST Approved tag to an unreviewed write up will be dealt with very harshly

Ultimately we envision that all reviews will be stored in a database for future reference, however the details of this process are still being worked out.

Advice. The CST will respond to requests for copyright policy advice or questions to the best of their abilities and experience.  In fulfilling this function, the CST will draw on the expertise of the Content Editors and E2 management as needed.  Questions should be sent as messages to the Content_Salvage user.

Rescue or Removal. At their discretion, reviewers may attempt to contact and assist the author of a non-compliant writeup to update it for compliance. Writeups that ultimately fail to pass a CST Review will be removed from the database.

Turnaround time. All CST work will be performed on a best efforts basis balancing the quality of our work with the need for a rapid response.  Anyone with a problem or complaint should be referred to a CST Admin.


In order to successfully achieve its goals, the CST will be very selective in its membership.  It is of paramount importance that all CST work be of the highest quality to ensure the ongoing credibility of the effort.  New members will be selected based on the nomination and sponsorship of an existing member.  New members will be trained by their sponsor and the sponsor will be responsible for the new member's reviews until they are deemed completely trained.  

The CST is a working group responsible for a serious function and the usefulness of the group will depend to large extent on its ability to perform its role expeditiously.  All members of the CST should be prepared to dedicate at least an hour a week of work time to the group. Prolonged absence without cause may be grounds for removal from the group.  


The primary objective of the CST is to provide a useful service to the E2 community.  The intended outcome from CST activities is an improvement in the quality of the E2 database, and the development and retention of copyright compliant content.  

The CST will endeavor to remain a neutral party in editorial disputes, copyright-related or otherwise.  Any abuse of their position by a CST member is grounds for dismissal.  Abuse or misdirected hostility towards CST volunteers will be dealt with severely.  


CST FAQ (How Do I...?)

This section explains the "path of least resistance" procedures for using the CST services.  As in all things, there's more than one way to skin a cat, so feel free to improvise on these suggestions where necessary.  This is just intended to get you where you want to go as expeditiously as possible.

How do I submit a writeup for CST Review?

Easy as pie!  Just contact us like this:

 /msg Content_Salvage Please review [MyWriteUpTitle] for copyright compliance.

We also ask that you include any special copyright information that you think is relevant to the review.  For example, if you received permission to quote from the original author, or if you know the work is in the public domain let us know. 

How do I request advice or assistance from the CST?

We're happy to field your questions to the best of our abilities. 

 /msg Content_Salvage My girlfriend's father's brother is good friends with a former drummer from Adam and the Ants.  He says it's totally cool to post the lyrics to It's just no fun being an illegal alien.  Cool?

Like I said, we'll do our best...

Do I have to submit my writeup for CST Review? 

Heck no.  In fact the copyright policy is very straightforward and if you are confident that your work is compliant just let er rip.  CST reviews are best used if you aren't sure yet how the policy works, or have a special situation that requires interpretation.


E2 Copyright Policy Q&A
This section explores some thorny and thought provoking interpretations of copyright compliance and fair use...

Q: arieh says I need some advice on blue moon by mikeyK; he includes chords and chord progressions. Are these (c)'d? I think so. How do we account for them in word counts? 
A: Tablature or other musical notation utilized in a writeup presents some unique challenges for copyright and fair use review.  Absent an opinion by a copyright lawyer, please use the following guidelines: 

  1. If the notation purports to represent the original music exactly, or is taken from a songbook or other copyrighted source, then the notation itself should be considered as a quote of the original work.  
  2. If the notation is a reinterpretation of the music by the noder, treat it like explication text and count it towards the 33% fair use rule.
  3. For chord progressions, count each chord as a word for the purposes of fair use word counts.  For tablature, count each bar as a word.  Obviously these are loose guidelines, so use your best judgment in all cases.

Q: Do all these rules apply to book reviews, fact nodes, daylogs and other E2 stuff now too?
A: Yup, the good news is that every little crag and corner of E2 content is subject to copyright compliance.  What? you didn't think they really meant it?

Q: What if a writeup utilizes lyric quotes from an illegal bootleg concert recording? Since the writeup otherwise complies with fair use, should it be accepted?
A: No. If the quotes had been derived from a legally copyrighted recording, the writeup could be compliant under simple fair use. However, illegal bootleg rock concert recordings are not legitimate sources to cite. That said, some artists explicitly allow audience recordings, while prohibiting other publishing lyrics from the recording. In all cases, a legal source must be cited to utilize fair use. Any permission received must explicitly include the right to reprint.

Q: How should we treat translations of original works?
A: Translations of original works come in two basic varieties, each with its own idiosyncracies:

  1. If the translation was created by the noder from the original work, it is derivative so it cannot, itself, be copyrighted without the author's permission. For the purposes of reviews, it should be treated as explication text and counted towards the 33% rule.
  2. If the translation was created by someone other than the noder, it is a derivative work and should be treated as a quote for review purposes

Q: eponymous says So if the noder did the translation, then altered the translation to rhyme, the law gives them no credit for the work they put into it? Is the re-poetrized version considered original work for the 33% rule? Inquiring minds
A: The noder's translation is considered original work and counts towards the 2/3 rule.  The translation itself is derivative and cannot be copyrighted without the permission of the original author.

Q: Dialogue states that s/he has the right to publish Dyson Spheres: A Treatise on E2.  Should we accept the noder's claims regarding their review submissions, or must we verify everything independently?
A: The CST is serving as an initial coarse filter for the E2 copyright transition. We're not detectives, and we're not responsible for investigating the claims that our authors make with respect to the work that they submit for our review. We have been instructed by the E2 management to accept the comments made by the submitting authors at face value and base our reviews on the info provided in the submission. Frankly any other approach to this formidable task would be impractical.

Q:  How should we do word counts if a writeup cites multiple versions of the same work, different covers of the same song for example?
A: Apatrix says "Different (copyright) registration, different work." So each separately published version gets its own 250 word limit.

Q: How should quotes from interviews, speeches or public document transcriptions be handled?
A: Each case has its own considerations:

  1. Quotes from published interviews are copyrighted material.  The interview source should be properly cited and the fair use 33% rule applies.
  2. Quotes from public addresses or speeches by public figures are public domain although specific instantiations such as a newspaper transcript of a public speech may be copyrighted.  If the raw transcript is reformatted and linked by the noder specifically for use on E2, it should be okay.
  3. Published historical documents such as U.N. Resolutions are usually in the public domain.  
  4. Writeups containing historical transcripts or documents should cite the original document and note that any websites included as sources are provided as a reference copy of the original document.

Q: eponymous asks, If permission has been requested/received, does that trump word count? IOW does the 250-word limit only apply to the fair use, no permission needed category?
A: Yes, unless specific permission guidelines were provided by the original author when permission was granted.

Q: Is the Quest/CST review just for writeups that have been revised to meet compliance?
A: Nope, "Pre-Compliant," wus are happily accepted and invited to proudly display the CST Approved seal of approval.  Hopefully this will reduce the load on future, more fine-grained copyright reviews by Apatrix et al.  The standard reward recommendation for Pre-Compliant writeups is 3XP.

Q: Is the 2/3 original explication text "required" or merely "desired" for copyrighted works where permission has not been received?
A: Required in all cases except when permission to publish has been received from the original author..

Q: If permission to publish has been received, is the 2/3 original explication text required? 
A: No. Unless some specific limitations are specified in the Permission letter, you can publish the whole thing, w/o any explication. Like Public Domain works.  Original explication is always desirable because it adds depth and context to the piece, but in this case, like public domain writeups, it is not required.

Q: What should we tell E2 authors to do with their Request for Permission letters and any responses they receive?
A: dem bones says "Until we have the code set up for storing it in superdocs let's have users hold off and keep their documentation off site in a word file or sumpin. Noting in the writeup that it's used with permission or is within our copyright guidelines is enough."

Q: Servo5678 asks if a writeup with only a single one sentence quote needs to be reviewed for copyright compliance.
A: If the quote is obviously under 250 words and obviously dwarfed by the original content in the writeup, then don't bother. If there's any doubt, go ahead and submit it.

Q: What happens (shudder) if CST makes a mistake and passes a writeup that turns out not to be compliant.
A: Remember, we are only serving as an initial "Filter" for the E2 Copyright Team lead by Apatrix. They will be researching problem wus in depth with nuke power at hand. Our efforts will make that job easier, but not allieviate its necessity.  If a wu was passed by mistake, by all means, follow up on it and fix the mistake. But we don't need to go back and play copyright lawyer on every piece we've reviewed. We are accepting the author's claims at face value, and using basic copyright policy.   Don't pass anything you feel isn't right, but you don't have to try and play detective either.  This is a Filter not a Trial.

Q: What are the rules for citing Project Gutenberg as a source for E2 writeups? If the original work is legitimately in the public domain, do E2 wus strictly need to cite a source for the text? If so, can they cite PG, without including the PG disclaimer text in each writeup?
A: E2 writeups containing quotes from public domain works must cite a source. Our attorney advises that E2 writeups using PG as a source should hardlink the Project Gutenberg node. Rancid_Pickle's writeup in that node contains the PG "small print" and this will be sufficient. The PG text should be quoted verbatim.

Q: I can't figure out whether this is in the Public Domain or not?
A:  You're in good company!  The public domain laws vary from country to country, as well as in their reliance on the author's death and the publication date of the work.  For the purposes of publishing work on E2, it all boils down to this:  

- E2 relies on U.S. Law in its copyright compliance policies.  

- Anything published before 1923 is considered as Public Domain. 

- Generally  works published in 1923 or later, are not in the Public Domain. Usually copyright protection for these works has been extended based on when the author died. Thus, what Fitzgerald published in 1922 is PD; what he published in 1924 is copyright for life+whatever. If you believe a work published between 1923 and 1963 IS in the public domain, you need to be prepared with documentation to substantiate that claim legally prior to posting.. 

- The 1923 date applies to creations PUBLISHED before January 1, 1923. If you have access to an author's or company's UNpublished works, then the Author's Death rules apply

Q: What about writeups containing "Lists or Statistics" for example a list of all the films an actress has appeared in that was taken from IMDB 
A: Straightforward lists of facts such as filmographies, discographies or the list of a performer's roles are not considered copyright protected. However more complex material such as derived sports statistics may represent intellectual property and thus be copyrighted. For example the schedule of this year's football games isn't protected, but a compilation of the longest touchdown passes in history would probably be, unless you compiled it yourself.

Q: What's the policy for "Traditional" works such as bar songs, college chants, etc. that are believed to be "Author Unknown." 
A: CST reviews will follow these guidelines:

- Writeups containing quotes that simply aren't sourced at all will be considered non-compliant and will be removed.

- Writeups containing quotes sourced explicitly as "author unknown" will be evaluated for compliance under Fair Use guidelines (especially the requirement of 2/3 original content) 

- Writeups containing quotes sourced explicitly by the noder as "Public Domain" will be accepted as such until proven otherwise.

Q: What are the rules regarding noding USENET and messageboard posts, content from mailing lists, and emails?
A: Content from USENET, messageboards, and mailing lists and emails is copyright unless explicitly stated otherwise.

Fair use provisions are based on the guidelines of Terry Carroll's Copyright FAQ:

"it's probably safe to say that it's a fair use if the use was not commercial in nature, the posting was not an artistic or dramatic work (...), only as much of the posting was copied as was necessary "

For our purposes, this means that if a USENET or messageboard post, or email is:

  • Lyrics, poetry, fiction or non-fiction then normal E2 fair use rules apply.
  • A short opinion piece, humorous comment and anything that falls outside the above categories then
    1. Cited material cannot exceed 500 words.
    2. If the cited work is less than 500 words then the entire work can be cited.
    3. Original material must be double cited material.

Please remember that publising personal emails may also be a breach of privacy, so be careful.

Quote (C) Terry Carroll 1994, reproduced as Fair Use.

Handling multi quote reviews.
Quotes from each source cited in the writeup are combined and reviewed as a group. No single quote can exceed 250 words total (for lyrics and poetry, 10% or 1000 for fiction). No combined group of quotes from a single work can exceed 33% of the total writeup word count. Take a look at my CST review of The Lord's Prayer: Pidgin English . Each work quoted (Tq1, Tq2 etc.) is totaled separately and considered against the total writeup. In this case there was only one quote per source, but if there had been more, I would have totalled them as a group. The theory is that the actual selection of quotes itself represents an artistic expression. So, you could have a writeup composed entirely of quotes, that was nominally fair use compliant without a word of original content.

Handling Repeated Lyrics,
When the same quote or verse is used more than once, count every quoted word towards the total. So if they quote the same verse twice, it counts twice. All quotes from the same work count together.

- Many thanks to haze, bones, Gritchka, Lucy-S and many others for allowing me to use their brains without asking... -gom