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I was wondering if there were any trademark issues with posts that people make in forums/discussion boards. Two questions:.

Question #1) If someone makes a long, well-thought out post in a forum, can you just copy/paste it as content on a site? I'm pretty sure that the post isn't property of the poster, but is it property of the domain or forum /img/avatar4.jpg?.

Which brings up...

Question #2) If the poster doesn't have claim to his post, and the post is indeed property of the domain or forum /img/avatar4.jpg, would I legally be allowed to copy my own long, well-thought out post from a forum and use it as content somewhere else?.



Comments (11)

First - terminology wise, these questions are relating to COPYRIGHT and not trademark. Two different things. Posts made in a forum do not put them into the public domain - unless the forum policies allow for that. It would be the same thing as copying an editorial or article from a newspaper - it is copyright violation. That depends on the published policies of the forum in question. I have seen forums where the forum owner lays copyright claim to any posts made on the forum.

I can't envision where you would not be within your legal rights to take material you have written and posted to a forum and republish it for other use.

BTW, I am not a lawyer and the above is a layperson's interpretation of copyright law.


Comment #1

Once someone writes something, it should automatically be copyright to them (even if they don't write copyright 2007 etc). I would think that if a forum owner wants to claim the posts for him/herself, s/he would have to explicitly say so somewhere and probably have the poster(s) agree to the terms prior to posting.

Although i, as well, am not a lawyer...

Comment #2

I think I saw once that if it is on a forum, then it becomes the property of the forum, not the poster.

If not:.

"I like cheese." Copyright 2007-Showbiz..

Comment #3

This is a very interesting subject - BUT.

If it is not copywritten, than any Tom, Dick or Harry can just get on any given forum, take relavant information and start his own money making blog.

I think it has to be - once it is posted it becomes property of the writer, and then also the forum or blog on which it is written.

Remember, we are talking about the internet here (the Wild Wild Web) and not print, as they are very different.

Also, I am not a lawyer!.

Copyright 2007 UneekTT - lol..

Comment #4

I would consider this a grey area. Let's consider a few things.

1. A member joined the site of their own free will..

2. The member posted the text of their own free will.

Now...let's say the original author (member) does have copyright. I consider the post voluntary and fair-use for the forum owner. He isn't breaking the members copyright simply because the OWNER didn't place the material on the site...the copyright holder did. In my opinion that's giving permission for usage.

Now let's say you ban the member and they ask for their posts to be removed. Tricky area and so far I don't know of any suits that have come of that. My personal belief is to leave the posts and let them get a lawyer if they want to pursue further.

This of course is my opinion based on standard signup forms. Namepros for example doesn't have any statements about it. Most forum software doesn't. IMHO it would be wise to add something like this: Not my best paragraph of legalese but it will do. I need a cup of joe...

Comment #5

My understanding is unless the forum has a TOS that specifically states otherwise, the content of posts on a forum are copyright of the original posters, while the forum owner implicitly receives a permanent license to use said content...

Comment #6

I would agree with RJ, in that the poster really owns the copyright unless specifically given up in TOS for the site (you do read the TOS don't you?).

Think how many people post at one forum and copy the exact same post at other forums. If the copyright went to the forum, the other forums would have an infringement case against no only the other forums, but the original poster for copying their own text there...

Comment #7

From being a forum owner and a someone who has ran 3 paid posting services. No you may not copy and or paste the post without prior permission from the forum owner. Unless you rewrite it to your understanding. You would have to say to the affect of..... I read on such and such at a particular forum or blog. The topic was on...such and such...

I really despise plagiarism. Really I do...

Wiki - plagiarism.

Wiki - infringement - things that are already copyrighted.

Either way it's a big no no. It should not be encouraged. What RJ said. If stated in the Forum owners TOS and only IF they have one. Than you need to pm the original poster and ask for permission. They may ask for a link back to where you harvested the post from...

Comment #8

Thank you for the replies everyone.

Sorry about using the word "trademark" instead of "copyright". I posted the OP without any sleep. :/.

I was mainly curious about this because I just started a forum (my first one) and wasn't sure about the laws. I also wanted to know if I could repost my own material from other forums in which I've posted.

Thanks for clearing most of it up...

Comment #9

Your welcome. I hope you great success with your forum. But if they are yours and their is no TOS to the previous forums. Than the posts are yours and you can copy and paste.

Although, I would recommend to becareful of dup content. Make sure it isnt more than like 3 or 4 dup threads(of the same subject/topic). OR the Search engines won't like it...

Comment #10

Publication is copyright. A forum owner only gets the "pleasure" of running your stuff on their board, but they can't own it or publish it in print and sell it, or make videos and T-shirts based on the stuff you wrote. A rare exception would be the forums run by certain magazines, wherein they stipulate that "some" forum comments "may" be quoted in print via their mag. However, such printing still doesn't let them legally assume copyright of your writing.

As to the TOS angle, forums can always be sneaky and later change their TOS to claim they own your words, house and first born, but that won't help them one bit - only you are listed as the author of your posts, and therefore only you can ever hold copyright to them.

(Of course if you actually signed an agreement selling them a particular block of your writing, then they'd have copyright over something of yours, and even then only as a limited one-shot print use, as per North American Serial Rights.)..

Comment #11

This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.


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