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Can one expect to have a copyright on forum posts?

Yet another discussion about forum posts and copyright...

9:35 pm on Apr 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I've read numerous posts regarding forum posts and copyright, and I really think most have missed the mark.

I think the question really is whether forum posts can get a copyright at all. According to copyright law, section 102.b, it states (paraphrasing of course), that in NO WAY does copyright protection apply to any idea, procedure, process, method of operation, etc.

Aren't forum posts by definition, or least in most cases, procedures, processes or method of operations? The basic jist of a forum question and answer is: (Q) How do I do something? (A) This is the procedure, process or method of operation.

Me <-- DISCLAIMER: Not lawyer, just someone who manages a forum.

10:04 pm on Apr 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

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You can't use copyright law - which is practically forever to protect an invention - which is around ~17 years.

This is what they are talking about. If I write a beautiful poem in a forum - it is no more or less protected than if I do it in the town square or in a book.

2:45 pm on Apr 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

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That's my point and question Ė if I understand copyright law correctly, it canít even be used. So are all or most of the posts regarding this wrong? On one of the posts, I even remember reading that this one fiery lawyer claimed that he would file a lawsuit on the first occurrence of a supposed copyright infringement - yet, one couldn't even be claimed. Am I missing something?
3:15 pm on Apr 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

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This reply, right here is copyrighted to me, automatically.

A process can't be copyrighted, but my description of it can be, take for example a knitting pattern for a basic hat, the hat itself and it's design can't be copyrighted (that's the idea, and the process) but the written instructions someone writes to allow others to make the hat, that is copyrighted. Two people writing instructions for the same hat, independently of each other can't claim copyright infringement, but if I take someone elses instructions and re-publish them, that is copyright infringement.

If I have a great idea, for lets say a space shop to go to the sun, I can't copyright that idea (feel free to take it if you wish) I can't copyright the plan I have for making it, but all of my technical drawings, and notes are copyrighted, and no one can use them without my permission.

So yes, everything written in a forum post is copyrighted, but only in terms of the words they use to describe it, not in terms of the concept behind those words.

To put it another way, the process can't be copyrighted, but the description of that process can be / is.

9:06 pm on Apr 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

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And just to add--many posts on many forums are not statements of procedure or process but statements of opinion or argument or feelings.
11:45 am on May 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Yes I go with you purplecape. I have also come across posts that are not mere statements of process but of arguments.
1:23 pm on May 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

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The description you read about copyrights was attempting to make clear that copyrights don't apply to ideas, procedures, processes, or methods of operation. That is because patents apply to those things.

Copyright applies to written works. It applies to the writing, the composition -- the words themselves, as a body of work. It is an acknowledgment that writing takes effort, and that that effort has value.

So the distinction was made because there are two different bodies of law, Patent law and Copyright law.

And then there's Trademark law...

Patents for your inventions.
Copyrights for your written documentation of and articles about your invention.
Trademarks for the brand name and product name of your invention.



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