An email message - unless I included it as part of a work copyrighted by me - is not even close to a published play, or for that matter a woodblock print. If, for instance, I had written the screenplay for "You've Got Mail", as abysmal as it was, before AOL started using the phrase in their software, I would indeed have an infringement case against them. It's simple precedence. In 1986 a reggae musician sued Mick Jagger over a song I can't remember the name of - not one of his bigger hits as a solo artist - claiming that Mick had stolen the song's melody line. Mick spent quite a bit of time in the Bahamas/Jamaica at one point, and the artist claimed that he'd heard the song on the radio, and ended up using the melody line as the base for one of his own songs. Not to "dis" Mick, but of course more recently veggie artist k.d.lang sued the Stones for stealing the refrain for "Constant Craving" - and the Stones had to admit that while it was accidental, it was indeed a lifting of the refrain that had apparently taken place. Does anyone remember the case with the reggae artist? Thankfully for many office workers, Charles Schulz didn't take too much irritation at the myriads of times that people made poor drawings of Snoopy or Charlie Brown for the purposes of office humor. Perhaps it might have been different if he was on the way up instead of so well-established - but such was not the case. The office copies neither helped nor hurt Chuck's career, or that of "Peanuts". Alas, this is a unique situation, and not at all common to those otherwise pursued by lawyers in their quest for lengthy litigation and resultant fees. If I chose to make a t-shirt with the word "splunge" on it, and made lots and lots of money selling them all over the world, I'd be an idiot if I didn't expect to get sued by both the BBC and the Monty Python troupe's remaining members. If I made a film called "Can't Touch This" and didn't expect trouble from both Jobete Music, Rick James, AND M.C. Hammer, I'd be a total fool. If I had an email exchange with someone heated enough to inspire someone to write a screenplay or novel about it, say on this list, and that screenplay writer didn't get the permission of me, Kim, and my respondee to do so, we'd have the right to sue. Yep. Intellectual property issues aren't a really complex deal to those who either own or steal the concepts-in-question, just the people trying to either litigate, explain, or understand them. Alas, one must still hire lawyers unless you encounter someone with enough integrity to admit what they've done, and settle with you themselves. Ah, Civilization! Stephen Goodman http://www.earthlight.net "jim palmer" <email@example.com> put forth: > i don't want to weight in on either side of this argument as such, > but what if someone copies your email message and sends it to someone? > what if they print it on a t-shirt? > have they stolen your intellectual property? > have i stolen your message copied below? > > this is not such a simple issue as physical property rights. > even as simple as that is, many people in the world believe property is theft. > how can you own the land, the air, or the sea? > > mailman believed that once a music piece had been performed, > the sound was in the air and therefore became public domain. > i don't know how that idea applies to software, but this is a music list after all...