Message Board and Copyright
- June 8, 2005 @ 5:44pmjdominic says:Hello,
On a message board such as this, does a user who posts a message retain copyright protection and, if so, does copyright law support a user who demands removal of their posted messages?
My own opinion is that posting on a message board confers implied license for the display of the posted message and for other users to quote, but I need to know if that opinion is mistaken.
- June 9, 2005 @ 9:00amAFry says:
does a user who posts a message retain copyright protectionAbsolutely, unless explicitly licensed.
does copyright law support a user who demands removal of their posted messages?I don't think anyone knows yet. I think it depends on how the courts choose to view a bulletin board. Books cannot be unprinted, but television broadcasts can be stopped. Let's consider physical bulletin boards that hang on walls. Let's say I'm a college student who has written a love poem to a specific woman. College campuses have bulletin boards all over the place. I could post the poem on every single one. But what if the woman rejects me? I no longer want the poem on every bulletin board. Can I force the college to remove my poem or do I need to go around and remove it myself? This electronic bulletin board allows users to remove their own messages, but what about board that do not? Does the users' inability to remove their own messages change the situation? I don't think so. If I scratch my poem into the door of every bathroom stall, I cannot remove the poem. However, I cannot require the college to replace the doors. Here's a middle ground example. I have seen walls that were painted by students. These students knew that next year the walls would be painted over. But what if the students regret their work? Can they force the college to paint over the wall a week later?
My own opinion is that posting on a message board confers implied license for the display of the posted message and for other users to quoteLet's deal with the quoting first. Anyone can quote anyone else. How many politicians have made embarrassing statements that ended up all over the news programs? If they could have stopped their statements from being broadcast over and over again, they would have. Now I'll try to deal with displaying. Is the act of displaying an ongoing act like a television transmission? Or is it a one-time act like printing a book? As I said, I don't think the courts have dealt with this issue. If the courts view electronic bulletin boards like television broadcasts, then I expect that any implicit license would be considered temporary. If so, then a request for removal would probably be considered an explicit end to an implicit license. If so, then a court decision would probably support the removal of the post. If the courts view electronic bulletin boards like printed books, then a request for removal might be considered like a request for a printer to destroy unsold copies. If so, then a court decision would probably not support the removal of the post. It sounds like you are running a bulletin board and someone has requested that a post be removed. In that situation, I'd probably remove the post, but I wouldn't remove the posts of anyone quoting the removed post. I hope that helps.
- June 11, 2005 @ 8:00amjdominic says:Thank you. Yes, I run a bulletin board, and a user has "formally requested" that all of their posts be removed. Our forum is configured so that users may edit any of their posts, but cannot delete their own posts outright. I have no qualms about deleting posts if that's what the user really wants, but the larger question of copyright is more important to us than the one individual's request.
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