How do I handle copyrighted information posted by unwitting users?

Discussion in 'Site Security & Legal Issues' started by kaptanjak, Jan 5, 2017.

  1. kaptanjak

    kaptanjak Neophyte

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    I'm a little confused about the nature of copyrighted material on forums. I warn everyone not to do it, but sometimes people do it anyways. Am I liable for this, or are they? Of course I remove copyrighted material, but it stands to reason that as my forum grows something might slip by. Can I somehow limit my liability by posting a notice or something? Is there any legalese that magically transfers copyright suits to them?

    I also had a question about using Twitter, Facebook, etc. Let's say I or one of my users embeds a tweet, FB post, or youtube video; and it turns out that it has copyrighted information in it. Who's liable in that case? Is Twitter liable, the twitter user who tweeted it, or is everyone liable who embedded that tweet in their site? I can't really find any definitive answers to this.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Joeychgo

    Joeychgo TAZ Administrator

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  3. kaptanjak

    kaptanjak Neophyte

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    So basically copyright laws are not covered by 230? So hypothetically the owner of a forum could be sued for copyright violation even if he wasn't aware that his user had posted it in the first place?

    What about embedding from sites like Twitter and FB? Since the content is linked from those sites, is the content really hosted on the forum itself? The problem is I see people posting copyrighted stuff on twitter and facebook all the time, and I have no idea who has permission to post what. So if I see copyrighted material in an outside source that's been embedded into my site, can I be held liable for that, or is all of the liability on twitter, FB, etc. since they provided the link and thereby gave permission for it to be embedded?
     
  4. Joeychgo

    Joeychgo TAZ Administrator

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    Um, pretty much no. You might want to read the article again.

     
  5. cbp

    cbp Habitué

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    Depends on the legal jurisdiction. Depends on where you are and where the site is hosted.

    Different countries, different laws.

    The legal advice I got is that the forum owner is technically the "publisher" and therefore liable ....
     
  6. kaptanjak

    kaptanjak Neophyte

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    But it said that 230 excludes intellectual property. As far as I could tell, it pretty much only protects against tort claims, like for example if one of your users said that coke was made from aborted fetuses or something. But it wouldn't protect you if they, say for example, used the coke logo as their avatar.

    "However, Section 230 explicitly exempts from its coverage criminal law, communications privacy law, and "intellectual property claims." In interpreting these exclusions, courts agree that Congress meant to exclude federal intellectual property claims, such as copyright and trademark, but they disagree whether state-law intellectual property claims (or claims that arguably could be classified as intellectual property claims, such as the right of publicity) are also exempted from the broad immunity protection Section 230 provides."

    Am I missing something here?
     
  7. Joeychgo

    Joeychgo TAZ Administrator

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    As a general rule... As a forum owner you are not liable for things posted by your members. As a general rule, liability belongs to the poster, not the forum owner. I don't ever recall a case where a forum owner was held liable for trademark infringement based on what a user posted. (ie Coke logo as avatar) One only has to look at facebook for common practice.

    If you want to pick this apart in every conceivable legal manner, I suggest you hire an attorney and sit and debate the topic with that attorney @ $500 an hour. I am not prepared to discuss every conceivable scenario nor am I an attorney.

    Here is more info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_230_of_the_Communications_Decency_Act
     
  8. cbp

    cbp Habitué

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    That is the opposite of the legal advice that I was given. BUT, I am in Australia and the site is hosted in Australia. Different laws to the USA.

    Section 230, DMCA etc do not apply to sites hosted outside the USA ... and even then it may not apply there as the legal advice I got is that it is where the legal entity (in my case, me) is domiciled. My site is hosted in a different state to where I live. Sometimes national laws apply. Some laws (eg privacy) are state based.
     
  9. zappaDPJ

    zappaDPJ Administrator

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    As much as I dislike car analogies the same principle applies. While you might try hard not to break any speed limits it's inevitably that you will but that doesn't stop you driving. My point is that if you take reasonable steps i.e. don't start a file sharing site, it's unlikely anything posted will get you into any real trouble so why worry. Worst case scenario you might get a take down notice or a stock image copyright holder tries to scam you for a fee (do they still do that?).

    The most likely scenario is that nothing ever happens despite the fact that your site is probably littered with content subject to copyright.
     
  10. Joeychgo

    Joeychgo TAZ Administrator

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    True - I am only speaking to USA
     
  11. doubt

    doubt Fanatic

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    The forum owner most of the time is traceable.
    The poster? Hard or impossible to trace.
     
  12. Joeychgo

    Joeychgo TAZ Administrator

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    So what? That really doesn't make a difference.
     
  13. doubt

    doubt Fanatic

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    How can I demand his head when don't know him?
    I know the forum owner so I'll go after him.
     
  14. Joeychgo

    Joeychgo TAZ Administrator

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    Can you show me a case where that has happened?
     
  15. doubt

    doubt Fanatic

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    I can dig for cases where the forum/site owner has been sued but cannot show you a case where an anonymous user lost a court battle.
     
  16. Joeychgo

    Joeychgo TAZ Administrator

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    sued for the actions of his users? Please do. I'd like to see them.
     
  17. doubt

    doubt Fanatic

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    http://www.theage.com.au/news/break...g/2005/08/09/1123353303794.html?oneclick=true

     
  18. zappaDPJ

    zappaDPJ Administrator

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    There are plenty of examples but they often don't necessarily revolve around copyright issues. The subaboard.com libel suit for $10 million is one of the most high profile: http://forums.scubadiving.com/archive/index.php/t-88871.html
     
  19. Joeychgo

    Joeychgo TAZ Administrator

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    The original question was:

    That said -- you don't have an outcome in the scubadiving case. It was settled and nothing seems to have changed on scubaboard. (ie, its still there) Anyone can sue for anything, its whether they win that's most important. IB sued XF - and the case was settled. That doesn't mean XF lost the case.



    Again, not copyright and also not in US, and as I said earlier, I am speaking only to the US laws.


    All that said... Its a bit of common sense. Look at the recent election in the US. Many lies about both candidates have been posted on facebook and twitter, many libelous comments are posted on those platforms every day. FB and twitter would be out of business if they were held liable for the posted comments of their users.
     
  20. kaptanjak

    kaptanjak Neophyte

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    I'm not worried about libel. That's clearly covered under section 230. Intellectual property though seems to be a minefield.:confused:
     
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