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Site Content Ownership

edited March 2007 in Vanilla 1.0 Help
I would appreciate your comments on site content ownership. I have a forum member that was recently banned, now they want me to remove all posts made by them as he claims they are intellectual property. I contend that they are posts made to a public forum and by deleting them they will disrupt the community pages. Over 2600 posts they made.....and the member is threatening attorney's and law suits. I don't think he has a case at all.....but I am interested to find out if any of you have had to deal with this issue and what your thoughts are. Unfortunately my TOS don't specifically address this and this forum is not a vanilla forum.....I appreciate your thoughts. Thanks.

Comments

  • Hey Silencio, not to make light of your situation, but I said elsewhere that the Terms of Service require some thought and serious attention, to which, a couple of people said I should lighten up or words to that effect.

    I suppose I'm saying "I told you so" to them, not you, which does not help your case much I guess.

    Logic and reasonable thinking suggests that you are correct, he freely contributed his comments to a public forum which he now has no right to retract, especially since he has been banned.

    Assuming you are able to back yourself that you had a right to ban him and the reason is fair and acceptable, I think you are safe.

    Posted: Thursday, 1 March 2007 at 4:57PM (AEDT)

  • Dang, I just posted a long comment and the forum ate it.......and I have to recreate the entire topic. That sucks big time! Got the error that the forum could not authenticate your post. So I will try again and keep it shorter. This page deals with the subject of site content ownership and the comments cover the spectrum of thoughts showing that there is a lot of uncertainty on this subject. http://dove-lane.com/index.php/2006/08/31/communities-content-ownership/ Know that I will reexamine and change my Terms of Service in all of my forum from now on and will not use the standard "out of the box" TOS's again. Let me ask you "Who owns the content on your forum?" Are you sure about that? What does your TOS say about site content ownership? If it belongs to the person who created it and they asked that you remove it would you have to?
  • TomTesterTomTester New
    edited March 2007
    Interesting topic Silencio. I will review the ones I have. Who reads these things? ;-)

    Re: Case in question

    Did they a) actually send a letter by a lawyer, or have they b) just threatened you?

    If a) then I'd ask a lawyer, not this forum, or if you're not willing to spend the
    buckaroos consider removing the content, or, what I've done in the past,
    STRIKE OUT the content... as a sign of good faith (e.g. this is not here)

    If b) then I'd play the game and say YOU'VE spoken with a lawyer who told you they
    had no leg to stand on (I'd really speak with a lawyer though, just so you can
    reference a conversation and CC that lawyer on your emails to him/her)
    You may even throw in a couple of case references AND state for the record
    that you will make them pay for your lawyers fees if they decide to proceed.

    Note: if the official request is to remove the content, then any lawsuit demanding
    removal becomes moot as soon as you actually remove it. You could always use it
    as a fall-back position in situation (b).

    I would be interested to see the TOS the user in question agreed to.
    Do you have a link (don't post them here in case the other party google's for them)

    Final remark: my guess is sometimes you WANT content ownership, and sometimes
    you don't.

    T

    PS I am *not* a lawyer, but also not scared of them due to past experiences.

    PPS Interesting issue: if he/she was QUOTED in responses, then does that content
    still belong to them, or not?
  • Tom Tester,

    Thanks for your feedback. While I have no intentions at this time of deleting the persons posts what this has done is brought to my attention the need for a better TOS to cover these issues. My TOS mentions personal information such as email, name, etc and what could happen if they do something wrong or objectionable.

    You see I read somewhere that "all content posted to a forum then becomes the property of the forum owner" and I "ASSUMED" that this was correct. My Mistake.

    This is what my standard TOS says:
    If you agree to the terms and conditions stated below, press the "Agree" button. Otherwise, press "Cancel".

    In order to use these forums, users are required to provide a username, password and e-mail address. Neither the Administrators of these forums, or the Moderators participating, are responsible for the privacy practices of any user. Remember that all information that is disclosed in these areas becomes public information and you should exercise caution when deciding to share any of your personal information. Any user who finds material posted by another user objectionable is encouraged to contact us via e-mail. We are authorized by you to remove or modify any data submitted by you to these forums for any reason we feel constitutes a violation of our policies, whether stated, implied or not.

    This site may contain links to other web sites and files. We have no control over the content and can not ensure it will not be offensive or objectionable. We will, however, remove links to material that we feel is inappropriate as we become aware of them.

    Cookies must be turned on in your browser to participate as a user in these forums. Cookies are used here to hold your username and password and viewing options, allowing you to login.

    By pressing the "Agree" button, you agree that you, the user, are 13 years of age or over. You are fully responsible for any information or file supplied by this user. You also agree that you will not post any copyrighted material that is not owned by yourself or the owners of these forums. In your use of these forums, you agree that you will not post any information which is vulgar, harassing, hateful, threatening, invading of others privacy, sexually oriented, or violates any laws.

    If you do agree with the rules and policies stated in this agreement, and meet the criteria stated herein, proceed to press the "Agree" button below, otherwise press "Cancel".
    So in reading this you might see that this TOS says nothing about content ownership or use of the content by the site owner.
  • Another example is the standard TOS that comes with Vanilla and you will notice still nothing is mentioned about site content ownership. I don't know if this site uses something different but my question to Mark would be "if one of the members of this forum contacted you and asked you with threat of lawsuit to remove all content that they had posted (assume that this was a frequent poster to the forum for many years) how would you be inclined to handle this request?

    And if you had to delete all their posts just imagine how that would affect the continuity of the threads... or discussions (with two s's :) )

    Here is the Vanilla standard TOS:
    Terms of Service
    Please carefully review the following rules, policies, and disclaimers.

    Considering the real-time nature of this community, it is impossible for us to review messages or confirm the validity of information posted. We do not actively monitor the contents of and are not responsible for any content posted. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any data posted by members. The messages express the views of the author of the message, not necessarily the views of this community or any entity associated with this community. Any user who feels that a posted message is objectionable is encouraged to contact us immediately by email. We have the ability to remove objectionable messages and we will make every effort to do so, within a reasonable time frame, if we determine that removal is necessary. This is a manual process, however, so please realize that we may not be able to remove or edit particular messages immediately.

    You agree, through your use of this service, that you will not use this community to post any material which is knowingly false and/or defamatory, inaccurate, abusive, vulgar, hateful, harassing, obscene, profane, sexually oriented, threatening, invasive of a person's privacy, or otherwise violative of any law. You agree not to post any copyrighted material unless the copyright is owned by you.

    Although this community does not and cannot review the messages posted and is not responsible for the content of any of these messages, we at this community reserve the right to delete any message for any or no reason at all. You remain solely responsible for the content of your messages, and you agree to indemnify and hold harmless this community, Lussumo (the makers of the discussion software), and their agents with respect to any claim based upon transmission of your message(s).

    We at this community also reserve the right to reveal your identity (or whatever information we know about you) in the event of a complaint or legal action arising from any message posted by you. We log all internet protocol addresses accessing this web site.

    Please note that advertisements, chain letters, pyramid schemes, and solicitations are inappropriate on this community.

    We reserve the right to terminate any membership for any reason or no reason at all.
  • I'm glad you brought this to our attention. I'd never even considered looking at the TOS in detail.
    FWIW, mine states:

    You agree, through your use of this YaBB forum, that you will not post any material which is false, defamatory, inaccurate, abusive, vulgar, hateful, harassing, obscene, profane, sexually oriented, threatening, invasive of a person's privacy, or otherwise in violation of ANY law. This is not only humorous, but legal actions can be taken against you. You also agree not to post any copyrighted material unless the copyright is owned by you or you have consent from the owner of the copyrighted material. Spam, flooding, advertisements, chain letters, pyramid schemes, and solicitations are also inappropriate to this YaBB forum.

    Note that it is impossible for us to confirm the validity of posts on this YaBB forum. Please remember that we do not actively monitor the posted messages and are not responsible for their content. We do not warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any information presented. The messages express the views of the author, not necessarily the views of this YaBB forum. Anyone who feels that a posted message is objectionable is encouraged to notify an administrator of this forum immediately. We have the rights to remove objectionable content, within a reasonable time frame, if we determine that removal is necessary. This is a manual process, however, so please realize that we may not be able to remove or edit particular messages immediately. This policy goes for member profile information as well.

    You remain solely responsible for the content of your messages, and you agree to indemnify and hold harmless this forum, and any related websites to this forum. We at this YaBB forum also reserve the right to reveal your identity (or any information we have about you) in the event of a complaint or legal action arising from any information posted by you.

    You have the ability, as you register, to choose your username. We advise that you keep the name appropriate. With this user account you are about to register, you agree to never give your password out to another member, for your protection and for validity reasons. You also agree to NEVER use another member's account to post messages or browse this forum.

    After you register and log into this YaBB forum, you can fill out a detailed profile. It is your responsibility to present clean and accurate information. Any information we deem inaccurate or vulgar will be removed.

    Please note that with each post, your IP address is recorded, in the event that you need to be banned from this YaBB forum or your ISP contacted. This will only happen in the event of a major violation of this agreement.
    Not a word about content ownership... :-(
This discussion has been closed.