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How can Thought Catalog get away with selling Reddit threads?

Redditors don’t know they’re published, but do they care?


Kevin Collier

Internet Culture

You could, for simply the cost of an Internet connection, be one of the more than 80 million users who log on to Reddit each month.

Or, if you’ve got $3.99 to burn, you can buy an ebook of its curated contents.

Thought Catalog has published a 200-page collection of the 15 Best Discussions on Reddit Ever. (Spoiler alert: You can go to any subreddit, click top, then click all time, and get some pretty good ones.)

But as defensive as some redditors can get when it comes to the site, it’s unlikely there’s going to be any legal repercussions soon. Reached for comment, Reddit General Manager Erik Martin indicated he felt redditors’ comments belonged to the commenters, not the site itself.

“Never heard of it,” Martin said in an email to the Daily Dot. “They did not reach out to us. Assuming it uses content from reddit, I hope to Thor they got clearance from all the users whose content was used.”

According to the book’s Amazon preview, the represented threads have hosts of users. One, for instance, is 40 different redditors’ responses to an r/AskReddit thread prompting them to write a scary story in one or two sentences. It appears to be the exact same post as the book’s author/curator, Michael Koh, wrote for Thought Catalog in July, which is still online. That post links to Koh’s book at the end, though it’s an apparent addendum, as the book came out months after the post.

To actually get permission from each redditor would be practically impossible. (Koh didn’t respond to request for comment.) The handful of those who appear in the book and responded to the Daily Dot’s inquiry said they weren’t aware of the book, and certainly weren’t asked for permission, but didn’t particularly mind.

“I guess I don’t mind that much, although some sort of message notifying me would have been appreciated as I had no idea it was published,” one user said. “I could see how it could have annoyed some people/me if it was a different scenario.”

“no i didn’t know it was in that book, thanks for letting me know, that’s pretty cool,” responded another. “It wasn’t taken out of context or misconstrued in any way and gave clear credit to who said it.”

As of this writing, no Amazon user has reviewed the book.

Photo via Richard M. Scott/Flickr (remix by Jay Hathaway)

The Daily Dot