Building blogger reprints my emails without permission

By Teri Karush Rogers | March 2, 2010 - 6:03AM 
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Q. A shareholder keeps posting emails from my property management firm on their “public” building-wide blog. Can someone reprint an email sent to that person on their public blog without the author’s permission?   

If we had intended it to be public, we would have distributed it ourselves.

Can I prevent it being published?  Maybe copyright all my emails?  Is there a rule of thumb regarding this not-so-easy issue?

A.    BrickTank legal expert Dean M. Roberts says this activity would probably fall under the fair use exception to any copyright that may exist in your email.

“I have a rule with the boards I represent that emails I exchange with them are deemed private unless noted otherwise, and the agreement is that they are not posted or released without permission,” says Roberts.

“However, here it looks as if the person is simply a shareholder and not a board member, so even if there was a rule it would not apply. A better practice is to assume your emails will likely be seen by others.”

You could also use the telephone to communicate any information you don’t want published.

As for adding boilerplate language found at the bottom of many corporate emails, that probably wouldn’t be effective either.

“It would depend on the language, which is normally aimed at someone receiving the email by mistake rather than the person the email is actually addressed to,” says Roberts. Even if you do couch your boilerplate more broadly, says Roberts,  "there is little real recourse.”

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