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who generally owns forum posts?



4:24 am on Aug 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

do the individuals posting retain ownership? if so, does that mean webmasters have no legal recourse to stop scraping?


1:28 pm on Aug 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

This depends on the legal agreement between you and your users. When a user signs on to your service, is there a checkbox they click to agree to some terms of service? That's where it should be spelled out.

It's typical for a forum to "own" all user-generated content. But beware there is a difference between ownership, copyright, and authorship. Each have their own set of rights and responsibilities. These are usually spelled out in a forum's Terms of Service or legal disclaimers.

Many forums (and other content sharing sites) do not claim ownership of user-generated media; instead they claim a worldwide royalty-free non-exclusive license to use the content. For example, Flickr does not own your photos, but by sending your photos to them you grant them a license to "use" them, ie store them and show them to the Interweb.

For example, WebmasterWorld puts this line in their ToS:
When a message is placed in any forum system, you are granting a soft license to the site to use it.
source [webmasterworld.com]


5:13 pm on Aug 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

i'm assuming that's the case with the standard forums, such as vbulletin and phpbb?

does that mean if a site scrapes hundreds of thousands of our posts there's nothing we can do?

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