On the record? (was Re: Random thought)

David Megginson david at megginson.com
Mon Sep 13 19:34:43 BST 1999

Ann Navarro writes:

 > Passing around emails via forward, or looking things up in the archive is
 > one thing. *Publishing them* is entirely different. 

What about running a news story in one frame, with your posting
(directly from the XML-Dev archive) in the other?  It's nasty
business, really, and I simply operate on the assumption that anything
I post to any public list can and will be reprinted, no matter how

To give two examples, when I booted my Linux notebook a couple of
months ago, this fortune appeared on the screen:

  "MSDOS didn't get as bad as it is overnight -- it took over ten years
  of careful development."
  (By dmeggins at aix1.uottawa.ca)

Wow!  Yep, that's me back in grad school at Toronto in the late 80's
or early 90's, and I had no idea that anyone had even read the
message.  Less to my credit, I'm immortalized in the famous "Linux is
Obsolete" thread from '91 or '92 (gleefully archived at many Linux
sites), where I argue that Linux is out-of-date because it uses a
monolithic kernel instead of a microkernel.

I do not remember giving permission for either of these uses, but
these are statements that I made in a public forum, and in the
U.S. (at least) I suspect that that fact makes them legally quotable
whether I will or no.  When you post to a public mailing list, you're
*always* on the record.

Furthermore, in the U.S., you could probably argue that many of us --
especially those who write books, speak at conferences, or are
involved in the W3C -- qualify as "public figures", which (thanks to
Larry Flynt) means that people can quote us and even viciously parody
us with immunity.

All the best,


David Megginson                 david at megginson.com

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