I made a big deal a while ago about adding a new comment engine to my sites. I’ve had some further thoughts on this, in particular regarding the sister sites TechStop and WraithStop. If you’re still not familiar with them I post links to interesting articles, articles that inspire me to write a note about how the contents of the article could be used in my fiction. These two sites also never had commenting available to them prior to this new rollout. I’m beginning to believe that I need further functionality added to those two specific comment engines and perhaps all of them across all of my sites. The function I need is beyond simple to implement, but the implications of which are extremely important. What these comment boxes need is a checkbox and a link to the terms of service. I need legal protection beyond what I’ve baked into the sites.
The protection I speak of involves that sticky situation where someone mentions an idea and someone else uses it only to be sued by the originator, or often enough people who weren’t even the originator. If I read an idea in the comments and then I want to use it, or worse I forget I read it and remember it later as my own idea, then there’s trouble, unless the legalese of the site specifically states that all ideas are freely given and belong to the site, a.k.a. me. This of course begs the question of how many people will deign not to leave a comment. It’s mostly bunk, like a lot of legal wrangling, but decrying it isn’t a defence. By all accounts it’s hard enough to defend against copyright infringement threats and to avoid them since there really are no original ideas, only fresher twists or mash-ups of ideas that feel new. That’s pretty much a topic for discussion that’s all its own.
Here’s a little story I like to relate. A year or two before the release of Mr. Murder by Dean Koontz I wrote a long short story that had the same end to the antagonist as Koontz’s book. I based my ending on comic book self-healing powers and some PBS special on an animal that burns up its muscle mass to heal or as energy or some such. I don’t know what Koontz based his ending on. He certainly never saw my work. He could have had the same sources of inspiration. Either way it was just plain old parallel progression. That’s why this is such a terrible thing to deal with, especially if the courts let complaints be too specific otherwise you have a case where like patents, someone could lay claim to the concept of art and everyone from painters to sculptors to authors to movie directors would owe this party money.
Music: Hy Pro Glo by Anthrax.