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Lyan Jordan
(redmonk)

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Ask an expert on 06/22/2012 12:51:50 MDT Print View

When a website owner operates a forum, and they don't censor content, they can say the content and copyright belongs to the poster. They just provide a platform for others speech.

When a website owner operates a forum, and does censor content, do they now become defacto owners of the content on the forum ? And, if so, are they now liable and responsible, legally, for their forum's content ?

And, if so, wouldn't it be in a websites interest to leave published content owned and copyright by the original author, and stay out of the censorship business ?

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: WNC
Re: Ask an expert on 06/22/2012 13:33:28 MDT Print View

I can't speak to general copyright but a quick google search indicated there wasn't any precedent set yet and most copyright lawyers don't agree who owns what.

With that said, when you create a forum account on BPL you agree to certain things outlined in the site terms and conditions of use. The forum specifics are in the Chat/Message Boards section.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Ask an expert on 06/22/2012 13:49:18 MDT Print View

By posting on a chat/message board any content authored or owned by you, you automatically (a) grant to all other chat/message board participants, and any other person or entity affiliated with the chat/message board, a perpetual, royalty-free, irrevocable and unrestricted worldwide right and license to use, reproduce, and distribute the posted content for the limited purposes of discussion and commentary, (b) grant to Backpacking Light a perpetual, royalty-free, irrevocable and unrestricted worldwide right and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from and distribute the posted content or incorporate the posted content into any form, medium, or technology now known or later developed, and (c) waive all “moral rights” with respect to the posted content.

(b) is the kicker.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Ask an expert on 06/22/2012 13:51:14 MDT Print View

I'm not an expert. But I feel the owners can pretty much do what they like. My preference would be to lock a thread that gets out of hand or maybe edit certain posts, if they are offensive in nature to the general membership. And who determines offensive?

At the end of the day, if we don't like the rules, we can go somewhere else :)

I only visit one other forum; it is for tent trailers. They have a rule that God, guns, and government cannot be discussed. And they will delete those kinds of posts. Doesn't bother me. To be honest this rule kind of keeps the conversations focused on tent trailers, although there is a chaff-like forum, but it is more for non-tent trailer/camping discussions. Here chaff seems to often be a confrontational/adversarial vehicle... at least most threads end up going that direction... and I am guilty of these kinds of posts too.

But the frustrating thing here is that when someone spends a LOT of time composing a quality post and it gets deleted... that ticks me off, especially if they spent time formatting it with HTML, which is ridiculous to have to do in this day and age.

I look at forums as public domain when it comes to copyrights, and posters should not be posting the copyrighted work of others. Published articles are a different matter.

Forums are not democracies.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Ask an expert on 06/22/2012 13:54:18 MDT Print View

In your tent trailer forum chaff, you can talk about ultralight backpacking?

Lyan Jordan
(redmonk)

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Ask an expert on 06/22/2012 14:14:16 MDT Print View

Neat, so by posting here we wave all rights to our posts, even moral rights.

This strongly implies BPL assumes all rights and responsibilities for content posted on this forum.

That is an odd position for a company to take in today's Internet market.

Edited by redmonk on 06/22/2012 14:16:33 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Ask an expert on 06/22/2012 14:22:15 MDT Print View

"In your tent trailer forum chaff, you can talk about ultralight backpacking?"

Sure. Just not the "3 G's"

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Ask an expert on 06/22/2012 14:27:22 MDT Print View

Neat, so by posting here we wave all rights to our posts, even moral rights.

This strongly implies BPL assumes all rights and responsibilities for content posted on this forum.

That is an odd position for a company to take in today's Internet market.

------------------------------------

Good thing I post nothing of redeeming value :)

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Ask an expert on 06/22/2012 14:33:10 MDT Print View

THERE ARE NO WARRANTIES, WHETHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, THAT INFORMATION PROVIDED AT THIS WEB SITE IS ACCURATE OR RELIABLE. THERE ARE NO WARRANTIES OF FITNESS OR TIMELINESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR THAT THIS WEB SITE IS MERCHANTABLE. YOUR USE OF THIS WEB SITE INDICATES YOUR ASSUMPTION OF THE RISK THAT IT MAY CONTAIN ERRORS AND IS AN ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF YOUR OWN SOLE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR HIKING, BACKPACKING, AND MOUNTAINEERING SAFETY.

Jeremy B.
(requiem) - F - M

Locale: Northern California
Re: Ask an expert on 06/22/2012 16:18:01 MDT Print View

Hi Cameron,

(IANAL, just have an interest in this topic.)

Your question contains an assumption that "just providing a platform for others" would be a valid defense. Whether that was the case was actually a significant worry some time back! In large part because of that uncertainty, legislation was passed that included certain protections.

Section 230 of the CDA provides immunity even if some editing is done (e.g. censoring language, reformatting for space, selecting which items to post, etc.). Further reading on what is protected and not protected may be found at the Citizen Media Law Project. I think spending some time here will provide you with some very good information!

Copyright infringment doesn't fall under the CDA, but the DMCA provides safe harbor provisions for website owners that implement (and of course follow) "notice-and-takedown" procedures for handling copyright infringement claims.

In general, it's a bad idea to claim ownership of content. Most copyright usage is accomplished through licensing, rather than transfer, and copyright owners who know their rights are usually quite unwilling to part with ownership. Further, at least in the US, I don't think that a ToS is able to transfer copyright ownership, and at least that part of the ToS "contract" would be invalid. (Any lawyers in the room?)

If a forum doesn't have a ToS, it's probably safe to argue that posting on a forum creates an implied license for the forum owner to use the work (as this would be required to display the post). If BPL wanted to include some posts in a print magazine, or perhaps print a "Best of BPL Forums" compendium, there would be a very good argument this goes beyond the scope of such an implied license. BPL would then want to create a ToS which included provision for such activities.

Edited by requiem on 06/22/2012 18:08:31 MDT.