Forum Copyright Law Advice

If you are worried about infringement or your work has been copied and you want to take action.
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soupy1985
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Forum Copyright Law Advice

Post by soupy1985 » Sat Aug 05, 2017 7:56 am

Hello,

I have a forum with lots of users where they can post setups for a consol game and another site has copied over 1000 setups to their site as their own content.

Where do I stand with this?

Many thanks
James

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Sat Aug 05, 2017 9:10 am

Hi James,


Let's assume that the content which has been taken is subject to copyright - more on this in a moment.

It is likely that your users each retain copyright in their actual postings, while in all probablity you retain the database right for the overall content of your forum. Assuming this is the case, then theoretically each of your users whose setups have been copied would have to take up the matter of any copyright infringement with the other site. You would only have grounds for a complaint against the other site if they had taken a unreasonable amount of the structure of that part of your site to which database right might apply. If they just took the individual postings containing the setups I don't think there is much you, personally, can do about it. That said, it doesn't stop you complaining to the other site about their morally reprehensible behaviour.

One way round the problem would be to ask your members to assign their copyright to you, or at least assert in writing that you are the exclusive licensee of their various contributions. In that way you would then have the legal basis to sue the other site on behalf of your members. Not that I am suggesting that you do sue - that would be expensive and time-consuming. But having the law behind you then means that you can make much more meaningful threats and demands of the other site.

So to return to the matter of whether copyright exists in your members contributions and whether it has been infringed by the other site. I assume the setups are described in words, rather than, say, code snippets. If this is the case then each contribution is likely to be treated as a separate literary work, provided it is in the contributor's own words, and not something they in turn have appropriated from someone else. For infringement to occur, a third party would need to have taken a substantial part or the whole of a posting verbatim. I am assuming the other site hasn't published any acknowledgement of the real source of their postings, so this rules out the use of various fair dealing exceptions which might protect the quoting of snippets of your members' postings, possibly for the purposes of criticism or review. If the setups are expressed in code or script form, they are probably also protected as literary works provided the sequences are long enough. Too short and they would probably amount to mere factual information too devoid of the personality of their authors to count as literary works, much as a shopping list containing, say, 3 or 4 items probably wouldn't be considered original, but a long one for a household weekly shop might be sufficiently unique and specific to its author's intentions to be subject to copyright.

It would also be helpful, but not essential, if your site contains a copyright notice. Many forums and similar sites, especially those frequented by specialist communities such as gamers or other computer-related activities, often operate under open source licences such as Creative Commons, and this engenders an attitude that all such sites are free to be plundered, much as users of social media freely re-tweet items they have found without a thought about copyright, simply because that is the accepted practice in that environment.

I hope this helps.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007

soupy1985
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Post by soupy1985 » Sat Aug 05, 2017 9:45 am

Thank you very much for your great right up. A lot of the setups have been posted by me so I can use my posts as I am the creator I imagine?

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Post by AndyJ » Sat Aug 05, 2017 12:22 pm

Hi James,

Yes that would be perfect. That way you don't need to worry about the contributions of your other members, while still having the legal right to object to what the other site has done. If you get no co-operation from them, you can contact their hosting service and raise a DMCA takedown notice, which should have the effect of the hosting service removing the relevant pages from the site's forum. If both the hosting service and the site's owners are based in the EU then it would be more appropriate to use the provisions of the EU ECommerce Directive (articles 14-15) but most people recognise the DMCA system as a viable alternative.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007

soupy1985
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Post by soupy1985 » Sat Aug 05, 2017 12:50 pm

I have issued a DMCA and have had no Responce from the website and the hosting company are not very helpful.

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