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Legal responsibilities of a message board (in the US mostly)

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by kingston, Jun 9, 2011.

  1. kingston

    kingston Well-Known Member

    What are the legal responsibilities of a message boards? If someone posts something and I am unaware of it as the admin am I responsible for it? What types of things can get a forum in trouble? What steps can I take to prevent any trouble or possible future trouble? What about linking and posting of possible copy righted material (as an avatar or in ones signature)?

  2. User

    User Well-Known Member

    Besides the DMCA being your enemy there's also the Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which has your back in many cases.
    However, unless you have access to inexpensive legal advice (as in access to an actual professional rather than a message board of self-proclaimed experts) you would be far better off to simply prohibit questionable behavior rather than to expose yourself to potential C&D letters, cancellation of your hosting account, etc.

    Check with your host and see what they do and don't allow. Linking to copyright infringement files will definitely get you into trouble. Avatar or sig static images are imho Fair Use and shouldn't present a copyright issue, but I am no expert.

    Other than that I'd just mimic the policies many boards have and rely on the report feature without to encourage your users to report stuff.
  3. kingston

    kingston Well-Known Member

    I am willing to remove links to copyrighted material if they are pointed out to me.

    One of the things that people like to do in our industry is announce private information that is currently happening in our industry. Then I have lots of people send me an email threatening to sue the board if I don't remove said information. Yes, anyone can sue. But if the information is true what case do they have?
  4. User

    User Well-Known Member

    You may want to head over to http://thelaw.com and ask that question in one of their forums there.

    What you are describing may put you into a Wikileaks type of situation. If the original poster was not authorized to disclose the information then there may be issues if you are aiding that disclosure especially if the party that owns the information complains about it to you, but again, this really is a question for an actual legal expert.

    What's your industry?
  5. pk698

    pk698 Active Member

    I think you should (and you probably already do) make forum rules and guidelines. be clear about what is expected and what is not of all users. having clearly defined rules helps you manage your forum better. if someone breaks a rule, and you get a complaint, then it's best to remove the offensive content/or user.

    I think the question really comes down to: if you clearly have rules on your site, and someone breaks it, are YOU held responsible for it? well, I don't know.

    but you definitely have to remove the offending content if you're approached. they key here is that you made some effort to correct the problem(s), rather than ignore the problem which is bad.
  6. Brett Peters

    Brett Peters Well-Known Member

    Sounds like you need a .info, off shore hosting, extra available bandwidth and a lawyer.
    User likes this.
  7. Carlos

    Carlos Well-Known Member

    I think you're better off not worrying about legal stuff, and just go with the flow.

    Okay, so you own a Cheerleading forum. Honestly, the niche is very small. Very, very, very small.

    But I will tell you this, companies or institutions don't really care if you "re-post" their press releases, which I see from your frontpage. And especially if you're using their RSS feeds. Although, just so you know, Google is cracking down on websites with RSS feeds and punishing them. So, my suggestion is keep that to a minimum.

    I would also keep doing news the way you're doing right here. And then I would write my own articles - about anything cheerleading - tips, tricks, guides, anything you can think of. Put it this way; you need to treat it like a magazine.
    Those domains don't really help. Its pretty useless.
    Okay, this is where your concerns are. This happens in the video game industry, all the time, and the industry is growing by leaps and bounds every year.

    Honestly, I would avoid divulging private information to the greater public. In the tech industry, those are usually treated as "trade secrets." In the video game industry its treated as a "leak" and companies frown on it. People still do it because it drives hits and visits to their sites more than regular news do.

    Your users wouldn't care about these news anyway, because they're there, and not over 'there.' You need to stop thinking that your site is small and can't expand. You need to stop fishing for hits and visits by releasing private information.
  8. Forsaken

    Forsaken Well-Known Member

    Uh... Many companies and institutions do care if you re-post (in its entirety) their press releases.

    He was also talking about leaks before the press release (eg iPhone 4 fiasco) which makes the situation completely different (depending on the industry).
  9. Carlos

    Carlos Well-Known Member

    No. They don't. Trust me. I am a writer. I have been doing that for quite some time. I have been seeing a lot of news sites re-posting press releases.

    You know, forsaken, it would probably be better if you had just left my posts alone and very well leave me alone.
    That's what I said.
  10. Forsaken

    Forsaken Well-Known Member

    They do not re-post the press release in its entirety, but instead follow fair use and accredit the original source. This is something you're taught when you go for a Journalism degree (which I have). This doesn't apply as the information can be viewed as a trade secret, and is what is likely to get him in trouble.

    And you're posting misleading information, all I am doing is correcting it. Misinformation does more harm than good, and it is better for him to understand the situation completely, rather than make a mistake and deal with consequences. I'm obviously not starting any issues, nor am I doing anything that can be construed as anything but a helpful correction.
  11. Carlos

    Carlos Well-Known Member

    Jesus. Lord. LEAVE. me. alone.

    I may have not said it, but I do know how to post press releases. You need to STOP treating me like I am stupid.

    "Mis-information?" #@^& you!
  12. jmurrayhead

    jmurrayhead Well-Known Member

    :ROFLMAO: you crack me up
  13. Carlos

    Carlos Well-Known Member

    You think me being mad is funny? How about keeping that to yourself.

    If you posted that to offend me. *claps* Good job.
  14. jmurrayhead

    jmurrayhead Well-Known Member

    Stop acting like such a child. You bring it all on yourself.
  15. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    That's enough guys.

    Back on topic or posts will be removed.
  16. Carlos

    Carlos Well-Known Member

    Oh please. Child? I wasn't even doing anything!
  17. User

    User Well-Known Member

    Why engage in activity which can get your forum and in extreme circumstances your finances into trouble?
    Why would you rip off someone's content just because they don't happen to care at that time? That makes no sense at all and just sets one up for the possibility of future litigation.
    Press releases come in many forms, some companies/institutions post them on their own web site and they want it to be picked up by just about anyone in its entirety. However, press releases have absolutely nothing to do with the original question.

    The question was whether a forum owner can get into trouble when users post privileged information.
  18. Carlos

    Carlos Well-Known Member

    "Rip off" is a strong word to use in this instance. The whole point of posting press releases is to educate users better. For example, recently, Call of Duty Elite was announced and to much speculation - there are rumors rampant: "OMGZ! We have to pay for Multiplayer!" So, to diffuse that rumor - sites like MW3Blog post press releases to help diffuse it. While other blogs are saying that MW3 requires you to pay to play. Stuff like that is what pisses companies off.
    This is what I meant by what I said.
    The word you were looking for was unprivileged. I didn't realize it was exclusive to press releases, I only got that impression from reading his site. I have addressed all areas, and not just press releases. I edited the post because I realized that it was private information that [he/she?] is worried about.
  19. kingston

    kingston Well-Known Member

    Just catching up.

    As for the re-posting there are are scattered cheerleading websites across the US. Most get little to no traffic, where as we usually have about 30,000 people flow through us a month. The front news article stuff isn't to get bigger, but aggregate what is scattered everywhere.

    As for the divulging of information that is wanted to keep private, that I do not care if it is frowned upon by the businesses as long as its within legal rights.
  20. kingston

    kingston Well-Known Member

    Well after going through all that, I finally see we arrived back to the original question.

    The question is at what point am I responsible for something someone posted? If someone chose to post information that is not supposed to be public how am I to know? Or defamation and false accusations? Things can get heated and that is fine (yalls spat is mild from what we get).

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