If you leave a comment on my blog, who owns the rights to that comment? Do I own it? You’re submitting a comment to me. You’re leaving a comment, which would imply it’s mine, right? Do you own it? You’re the one creating the content in the first place. You’re writing it, and if you choose to be, you’re getting a byline for writing it.
Things get more complicated when you implement a system like Disqus or Intense Debate. In these cases, there is an assumption that as a commenter, you are giving me a perpetual, irrevocable license to your content. I, having a license to use your content, license it to Disqus or IntenseDebate, granting them a license on my license. Now all three parties are free to do what they wish with the content produced by one.
There’s a problem in this system. If you assume that your comments are yours and your alone to own, and I don’t have a terms of service on my website stating otherwise, I would be violating your copyright by using Disqus. Perhaps this is why blogs like Mashable and the Huffington Post clearly state that they have a perpetual, irrevocable license to all the comments left on the site.
But what about this blog? Everything here has a Creative Commons license associated with it. By leving a comment, you have a license to use your comments, I have a license to use your comments, you also agree to release them with a Creative Commons license, AND Disqus has a license. That’s four licenses on every comment that you leave on the site. Okay, and one more wrench to throw in. BackType is also taking your comments and putting them on backtype.com. BackType’s agreement says that you also give them a license to the content. That makes five entities (not counting anyone using them for CC purposes) who could claim a right to your comments.