Lets say I have a forum on "DVD Reviews" and my forum has approx 10,000 threads from members who over the years have been posting in the forum.
Then one day I realise that my forum doesnt rank very well in google, and thus I decide to setup a blog on a NEW domain and I decide to copy and paste approx 500 of my favourite threads from my forum and into the well optimised blog site.
Would i be legally ok to do this? or would I have to get permission from all 368 forum members who have contributed to these 500 threads?
Actually, a lot of forums and online communities have terms and conditions that transfer ownership of anything written to the site owner. Company blogs are the same way. Because companies want to be able to use the content on their sites for PR and marketing, they have to have these permissions so it's becoming increasingly common to see complicated TOS's on websites stating ownership of content.
I've always been curious about this - what is the point of the TOS on most forums? As far as I'm aware you cannot agree to contracts online anyway, and most forums allow minors to register, how do you handle that?
Its all well and good putting a clause into your TOS saying that all content becomes transferred to you, but you can't really prove that transfer without some kind of signature, surely?
Contracts have to be signed - but it would probably hold up because you have to agree to it before becoming a member. It's like a music CD - you agree to their terms before even opening the CD to be able to read what they are. Same with software.
I'm not sure what the law would say - it's quite possible it wouldn't hold up in court. I don't know. But I think you'd have a pretty good chance.
I've seen forums where you have to repeat a line of text into a form to register, something along the lines of 'I have read, understand and agree to the terms of this forum'. (I can't for the life of me find an example though - typical.) I imagine that this would be a better measure in the eyes of the law, but then again, IANAL.