A Question of Legality

I’m always trying to get readers to respond to posts, but this time it’s a blatant call to arms — I honestly have a question to which I do not know the answer, it’s not just an act to get you to read this.

Recently, I filed a complaint about the abundance of mice and rats in public parks with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. I waited some time and then thought they forgot about me. Now, a week later, I get an e-mail from one of the P&R Division Managers informing me of what steps the Department is taking to solve this problem.

Much encouraged, I wanted to post a copy of his e-mail to Innermostparts, to demonstrate the action the Department is taking and to comment on some of the specifics.

Nowhere in the e-mail did it say that it was confidential, and in fact the Manager had CC-ed another employee in on the e-mail (without consulting me). However, when I asked if I could quote section from the e-mail, the Manager told me to get in touch with his Press Office, a step I have not yet taken.

I’ve scoured online forums but have not found an answer to my question: Am I allowed to reproduce any or all of the e-mail I received, without the sender’s direct permission?

If anyone has sufficient legal knowledge, or just wants to hazard a guess, please feel free!






One response to “A Question of Legality”

  1. Kate Alexander

    Definitely hazarding a guess here, but I do want to go to law school so hopefully this is fair reasoning.

    I think you would be in the clear to post a quote on what is going on. Email can be used if there are competing copyright claims for material to-be published, but that isn’t the case here so reproducing should be fine. Additionally, since there is no confidential statement anywhere in the email (you might want to make sure that there isn’t a footer with the confidential statement hiding from you), I don’t think it would be illegal by any means for you to publish the material.

    However, I would not publish any citations of other organizations that the sender may have mentioned in the body of the email as, for whatever reason, there might be internal politics that could keep them from performing their role to clean up the parks and those politics could be strained by that information being public.

    If you’re worried about it, there is no reason why you couldn’t paraphrase and slip in a short quote here and there.