Who owns copyright to forum posts?

If you are worried about infringement or your work has been copied and you want to take action.
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Post by Hellan »

Thank you for your reply, this is just the sort of reassurance i needed beofre posting my own work on my own site. I'm glad it isnt just me who finds their attitude in the matter offputting. I have since left their fourm.
Once again many thanks,
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Copyright Infringement

Post by andrewstronge »

The situation is really quite clear. By posting on a forum freely and under no pressure from a third party you enter an agreement between your self and the forum owners. Once you have left you have no right in law to insist that your post be deleted. If you could then an author leaving there publisher would be entitled to insist all publication by the publisher would have to be returned, and that would be impossible.
There is what’s called a fair usage act, if say the forum owners sold or republished your posts on another forum then you would have the right to insist it was removed, but all the time they break no such rules you really don’t have a legal leg to stand on.
You however can insist on seeing any post or information held by them under the data protection act and freedom of information act.

Another thing to remember allot of forums use USA based companies there for comes under US laws, if that is the case I think you should request details on anything held on you and copies of your posts, this they are obliged to supply. There have been lengthy cases going on in the US costing many millions of dollars. Also remember if you decide to go down the legal rout it would have to end up in a high court, you could argue its contravening you basic human rights but as I said a court case can be lengthy and costly and almost certainly you will lose and end up paying the other sides cost. You won’t be able to get legal aid but the other side might if they can prove financial hard ship.

I hope I have helped.

This is a personal opinion and in no way can it be used in a court of law or can I be liable for its contents ©
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Post by Tennant »

As an extension of this line of thought...

If someone posts a positive comment/review of a product on a public forum and the manufacturer of the product then takes that comment/review and quotes it in their marketing literature without seeking permission, are they in breach of copyright?

What if the forum belonged to the manufacture (eg a support forum on their own website)?

Does it make a difference if the original author of the post is or isn't credited? If they are credited could they be seen to be ensorsing a product and hence seek payment for such endorsement?

We increasingly get asked to incorporate quotes from 3rd-party websites on marketing materials we produce; but so far we have always advised against this, but see other companies regularly doing it.

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Post by Warlock »

Hi Tennant..

A very interesting point.

I think 'yes' they are in breach of copyright. As I understand it, (assuming the forum does not belong to the manufacturer), the manufacturer should contact the person that posted the endorsement (or go through the forum owner to contact them) and get permission to use their content.

I have however seen forums that seem to 'claim' copyright to the material posted on their sites (presumably there T&S for forum use specify this - but frankly that seems wrong to me) and if the manufacturer runs the forum they only need to put a clause in the T&Cs for the forum to the effect 'we can use your posts however we want'.

You are right that a lot of people don't bother to get permission - it's a risk, but often copyright owners don't realise, don't know their rights, don't care or can't be bothered to take action. I am sure there are complaints, but in most cases the manufacturer removes the quote and the complaint goes away.
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Post by Disgruntled »

Hi :)
I also have an issue with copyright of forum posts.
I own a forum, and two of the admin recently left and formed their own community.
I have now found that they are copying other people's posts, without permission, and posting them on their forum.
I am pretty sure this is not okay.
What should I do?
Also, what should I put on the terms and conditions to make sure it is absolutely clear that this is not allowed?

I really would be most grateful for any help!
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Post by CopyrightAid »

What should I do
Personally I would:

1. Contact the ISP hosting their site, highlighting the posts in question and ask them to remove the infringing material.

2. Contact the people who made the original posts (it is THEIR work that is being copied) stating that you have seen that their work has been copied without permission and suggest that they also complain to the forum admins and the ISP hosting the site.

3. Go have a cup of tea and calm down ;)
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Post by jbideas »

It's very simple. Once you post you no longer have complete control over that content.

The only control you have is what the forum owner grants you. Depending on the permissions you may edit or delete your content but that's about it.

When someone quotes your content you have no more control over the bit that they quoted.

Theoretically copyright applies to whatever you write but if you accept that then you also accept that the Fair Use provisions of the copyright laws (as defined in the USA) apply to your content as well.

If this were to go to the Supreme Court in the USA it's doubtful that the Court would side with content creators on forums. The reason being that a forum is a sort of electronic common area where allowing each and every post to become subject to the strict letter of the law regarding copyright would hinder the free exchange of ideas.

By using a forum you cede the right of copy to the forum's owners who then cede it implicitly to other users through the quote functions.

Certainly this can and probably will at some point be made into law. But for now the situation is such that the content creator on a forum has little control over their content.

Personally I find that this needs a major overhaul. For example if I spend time crafting a very good and informative post and then two other people start fighting in the same thread and the thread then gets summarily deleted my content (and effort) is lost.

I personally believe that when a forum begins to charge for it's use, be that in the form of memberships or advertising then they should have professional moderation to weed out the offending posts and posters while preserving the efforts of the good contributors. Forum owners should recognize that they are getting content which they otherwise could not afford to have produced on their own.

The action of throwing out the baby with the bathwater is a serious problem which is basically causing millions of hours of productivity to vanish from the Earth. That's not what the communication age is supposed to be about.

The issue of who owns the content is definitely a thorny one but not one which has to be contentious with a little rearranging and valuation of people's efforts.

(and all bans are unfair from the banned person's perspective aren't they?)

John - currently banned from his favorite forum :-(
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