Legally the user can request to have all their posts removed at any time and you, the forum owner is required to act on any such requests from the user.
It came down to either the user owns the posts and thus having ownership can dictate what is done by third parties, i.e. the forum owner, with those posts including having them removed OR the forum owner assumes ownership of the posts upon their submission, in which case it has to be clearly spelled out in the forum rules and policies that the user agrees to when registering. This then makes the forum owner responsible for any posts that are made that may be defamation or have any other legal ramification. A dangerous situation for a forum owner even if you have a disclaimer in your site rules and policies...as we were informed.
So to overcome this dilemma our legal representative then had to create a complete set of new rules and policies for our site to overcome these issues and all current users had to agree to them. Luckily we already had a notice that the site rules and policies could change at any time and that any changes would be published in our "Announcements Forum" so we were able to put the onus back on to the users instead of having to get them to acknowledge the rules and policies again before they posted.
How our solicitor overcome the court's decision was to have two statements in our rules and policies:
- Legal rights of the content added to this site by its members or visitors belongs to Site administration when they are submitted to the site unless it is clearly mentioned otherwise in the content that is submitted. Site visitors/members can not ask the submitted content to be removed or unpublished from the site later nor can they ask for the content ownership to be changed once the content has been submitted.
- User agrees to indemnify and hold Aircraft Pilots and its servants harmless from any loss, liability, claims, damages and expenses, including legal fees, arising from or related to the content, use, or deletion of User's Files, messages or use of any other feature or service in this site. This expressly includes:
- User's responsibility for any and all liability arising from the violation or infringement of proprietary rights or copyrights.
- Any defamatory or unlawful material contained within User's messages, private messages, emails, attachments, images and files.
- Content submitted to the site by the user
- Other content in the site
- Communication with site administration
We often think that we are covered in one way or another but until it is tested in a court of law you can only guess that you are covered.
If you are interested in seeing our complete and somewhat long winded but learnt from experience, rules and policies, they are at:
Hope this helps other site owners in keeping themselves covered...we had to find out the hard way
NOTE: Previously whatever I posted was copied by a competing site. So I post this in the hope that it does help others but on the condition that anything that I post is not allowed to be used by Glenn Inwood of Cowra NSW Australia or anyone associated with him.