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Using a password protected area.



11:10 pm on Dec 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I am wondering what the legal issues are concerning what is displayed behind a password protected area of a forum.

e.g lets say we create a moderators only forum and I decide to slag off the competition. Or, lets say I create a password protected section that NO-ONE can access, but for some crazy reason I decide to add hardcore porn, or i copy content from another site, put it in the password section and no-one will ever know.

However, what would the legal standpoint be for such scenarios? if no-one can see it, then is it still an offence?


11:12 pm on Dec 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

p.s I am pretty sure it is an offence. But lets use the content theft example....

Lets say I took some articles from webmaster world and published them in the protected area, lets also presume that one of the mods here knew that the articles were there because we went drinking the other night and I confessed. However, no one can prove that the articles are there due to them not being able to get access.

Would i still have to remove the articles? and would i still get in trouble for taking them in the first place?

I assure you this is hypothetical.


11:22 pm on Dec 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Seems to me that if you have private .htaccess password protected directories, they can't be spidered, therefore they are not in the public domain.

i.e. you are not publishing the copyrighted content, you have it for personal use only.

As far as the AdSense - I'm not sure I understand your question - are you saying that the AdSense is being published on the main example.com website ONLY? If the pages on which you display AdSense ads are squeaky clean TOS, then I can't see why there would be a problem.

However, if you put AdSense code on the pages in the example.com/private/ directory, then you will need to worry whether those pages conform to TOS.


11:25 pm on Dec 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

There was no mention of Adsense.

What if that part of the forum was password protected from users, but the spiders could still cahce and read it?


11:30 pm on Dec 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Oops, I just re-read your post, and realized you are talking about using a forum software, where some of your forums are public, and some of your forums are password members only.

i.e. it seems that the forum software would have the same AdSense code being included for all the pages. Hmm. Now I am wondering how MediaBot is supposed to be able to spider the private topic? If it can't log in and spider, then you won't get relevant ads anyway, maybe no ads at all?

Can you put in a hack for those specific forums? So that the AdSense code does not get included?


11:34 pm on Dec 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Sorry, I guess that I just assumed you were talking about an AdSense TOS offense?

If the password protected area is not publically accessible, it is private use. So what sort of offense are you talking about?



11:59 pm on Dec 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Perhaps content theft.

I am reffering to legal issue NOT adsense tos.



2:14 am on Dec 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

If spiders can access the content, then it's publicly accessible.

"Private" can vary, too. Obviously, if you have material on a personal hard drive, it's unlikely that anyone will know you have copyrighted material there. If a "private" forum, though, multiple people may have access. If at some point one of these people gets angry with you or the forum, they could report the theft, or even document the abuse prior to reporting it.


8:20 pm on Dec 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

We all know that users tend to post things from time to time, text and graphics, that they shouldn't. I still get the occassional email about a user having posted a copyrighted poem on one of my domains years ago, even though the domain no longer hosts any community elements (many old pages and posts remain up, though). But let's say your community is small and all forums are and always have been password-protected (blocking spiders). If a user makes a post containing copyrighted material, is it a legal violation? If a tree falls down in the forest and no one is there to see it, did it make a sound?

Disclaimer: I'm not advocating posting copyrighted material on password-protected forums. It just that, most likely the copyright holder would never know about such activity. The question over legality seems almost moot. That said, if you allow or participate in rampant private violations, you could always end up the sap who gets busted.


9:57 am on Dec 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Ok, another hypothetical scenario...

If the area was strictly admin only, and i was the only admin. However, BOTS were allowed to cache the threads, BUT when a user found such a page on google they obviously couldnt get in to see that page.

Does the fact that google can read it make it public? what if the bots are the ONLY things that can read it?