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  1. #1
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    Who owns forum content?

    Another forum related question from myself.

    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?

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard Lil_Red's Avatar
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    Technically, forum posters own the content of their posts.

  3. #3
    xhtml/css dude nemanja_nq's Avatar
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    Yes, this is correct in most cases. ( I own this line please don`t put it in your blog )
    Nemanja - xhtml/css coder PM or
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  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
    beley's Avatar
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    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.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Evangelist AlexC's Avatar
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    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?
    Nearly 7 years old!

  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
    beley's Avatar
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    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.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Evangelist AlexC's Avatar
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    Thanks for clearing that up
    Nearly 7 years old!

  8. #8
    SitePoint Addict jtresidder's Avatar
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    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.

  9. #9
    perfect = good enough peach's Avatar
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    any lawyers on board here?

  10. #10
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    I would also like to hear the official laws.

    I dont understand how the webmaster can end up in sued if a forum member says something liable. Yet the member holds the copyright.

    Seems very unfair on the forum owner.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Evangelist AlexC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deano6410
    I would also like to hear the official laws.

    I dont understand how the webmaster can end up in sued if a forum member says something liable. Yet the member holds the copyright.

    Seems very unfair on the forum owner.
    Because you're hosting the offending content - same as if a newspaper printed a libelous remark in a letter to them, they can be held accountable...
    Nearly 7 years old!

  12. #12
    perfect = good enough peach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlexC
    Because you're hosting the offending content - same as if a newspaper printed a libelous remark in a letter to them, they can be held accountable...
    So I can post something on sitepoint that I make up myself and send a DMCA to their host??

  13. #13
    SitePoint Guru
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    Posters own the writing, but you can grant use, like this sentence in this thread. You can't do something like take all the threads and start a blog or book.

  14. #14
    SitePoint Member
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    could you not start a blog within the same domain?

  15. #15
    perfect = good enough peach's Avatar
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    you can't proove in court that I accepted the terms of a forum online, so no copyrights are transferred at all.
    I think that clicking in boxes and retyping your name has no legal value because
    • The process of clicking/typing can be done by third party software like roboform, so the TOS part of signing up might have totally bypassed the user.
    • Who ever reads the TOS of a forum/website you sign up with, if those were legally binding I could have lots of people sign up to clean my room


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