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Ethics of Stealing an Idea?

Hey Sebastian,

I read your latest post about not having time to properly answer e-mails, so I'll keep this short.

What's your take on using an idea that you've seen on an internet forum or social networking site, and basing your next business project on it? For example, a member posts an idea that they have on a public forum, and everyone responds with, "Wow, that's a great idea - you should start a business and make some cash!" The member says that they just do it as a hobby and aren't really interested in making money.

If someone comes along and sees that, they indeed may want to take on the project and start making profit off of it, essentially stealing the idea and reaping the benefits.

Is that wrong? Since it was posted online for all to see on a public forum, hasn't that member forfeited any rights he had to the idea originally?

Haunted Dreams

Ah, you there, my Type-A friend. I'm glad you came today. Come in. What would you like? We've got coffees, teas, or clear still water perhaps? No juices at the moment, I'm afraid, I'm not having carbohydrates and it'd be fiddling with the devil to buy juice and then attempt not to drink it. The coffee is good, though, yes?

One moment. I'd like to light the fireplace. Maybe it's technically Spring, but this "Spring" in West Germany is chilly and cold and damp and grey, right down into the bones. But pardon me, I'm near veering into complaint, which is the exact opposite of the place I want to go. I'd much rather pull up by the warm fire's glow with non-carbohydrate beverage-of-choice and muse a little about philosophy and psychology with you -- and maybe it'll even be productive for us?

Ah, the warmth is nice.

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