Background story:

  1. Recently I've written some questions on law.stackexchange. People wrote answers to those questions, and also wrote some comments. I read these things and got some new thoughts from them. I'll refer to these as stack_thoughts. This is the first source of some new thoughts about my question.

  2. Also I wrote partly similar question to some other places through email, and received responses. I read those responses and got ideas which I'll refer to as email_thoughts. This is the second source.

  3. I also asked some questions on a talk page in my profile in Wikipedia. There, one can ask for some help, which I did. And I also received answers, from which I got wiki_personal_thoughts. This is the Third source.

To normally prolong my working on this same problem, I need to collect, join, analyze, and use thoughts from all three sources. I need to have possibility, to "formulate" this all thoughts, in all mentioned places. I can do this, in particular by two ways:

  • First. I can just blindly use them, write about them without mention of the sources where I got them.
  • Second. Before use all these thoughts I can ask for permission from the authors that are my sources. E.g. I can write a message, to each person who replied on my talk page in Wikipedia, about - can I use what they told me, in some other place, maybe on stackexchange. They might reply with a yes or a no.

So question is next:
How can I utilize normally, ethically, and legally information from these three resources (sources)?

I know that there a lot on the internet about using copyrighted text resources - but what about personal email letters, and personal messages?

  • Are you in the US, or somewhere else?
    – D M
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 17:08
  • To @DM. I am in Ukraine, but I used English Wikipedia (for personal Wikipedia talks), and wrote letter to "creativecommons.org" which main office is maybe in US.
    – Revlos
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 18:57

1 Answer 1


First of all: Note that user content submitted and published on Stack Exchange is, per the terms of service "licensed under cc by-sa 3.0 with attribution required." Similar open-source licenses apply to wikipedia and many online forums.

Private communications, at least in the U.S., are subject to full statutory copyright protection.

You evince some confusion regarding what copyright protects: It applies to fixed, creative expression. So if you read a bunch of copyrighted text, and then write something that does not directly copy text (except as subject to ) then you own copyright on what you wrote, even if you were informed by other copyrighted sources. If the only protection that applies to the sources you used was copyright, then you do not need the permission of anyone, nor do you need to attribute your work to anyone, to digest and create your own written expression of ideas, facts, etc.

  • To @feetwet. Yes I understood. This, I think, may be the solution of problem mentioned here. But still - is there some other, what important to notice, other "things", which can apply restrictions on using thoughts from that three resources. Because there is also NDA, and I dont know - is there something else. But I think, that to check, one need, to look on the email letter footer, and on Wikipedia policies or legal notices. -- Is this true?
    – Revlos
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 19:35
  • @Revlos: Yes, that's what the first paragraph of my answer says: The content of many sites is available for use under terms that are less restrictive than copyright, but you have to read the terms to know what they are. Of course, intellectual property can be encumbered in other ways, and contract (e.g., NDA) is one of those ways. Keep in mind that if you are looking for specific legal advice you will have to pay a lawyer for it.
    – feetwet
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 20:20

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .