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Question 17: What is your opinion on the current policy about the ownership of posts?

Question 17: What is your opinion on the current policy about the ownership of posts?

 
Old Oct 16, 05, 4:53 am
  #1  
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Question 17: What is your opinion on the current policy about the ownership of posts?

This question was submitted by andre1970:

"What is your opinion on the current policy about the ownership of posts? Does it need furhter clarification? Do you think that this is an important or a trivial issue and why?"
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Old Oct 16, 05, 7:25 am
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I have seen the discussion on this and I believe this is something that should be investigated. I am not a lawyer and I do not play one on TV. I do not know copyright law and whether the current TOS limits posters in any way. Again, I believe it is something that we need a legal opinion on. So absent that legal foundation, let me tell you what I do believe.

I believe that most posters don’t care. Few have likely read the TOS at all and even fewer care about who owns the rights to republish their question about how hard it is to upgrade to first class on airline X. That said, to the few that do care, this is an important issue and it could materially impact their willingness to contribute. Furthermore, the ones that care enough to value ownership are the ones that have content to contribute that will likely be of real value to the community. So, while few will be passionate about this issue, I do believe it is important and should be addressed in an aggressive manner.

Next, I would like to the see TOS be changed. There are really only 2 possible outcomes of the legal investigation: that it limits ownership or that it doesn’t. If the TOS currently strips ownership of posters, then it can cause people not to contribute valuable content. That’s bad for the community. If the TOS are essentially invalid and copyright law protects the poster, then it implies a loss of ownership and might scare some posters without actually accomplishing anything. Either way, the current TOS negatively impacts content creating and information exchange.

I understand that FT provides a service and needs to be able to protect itself. They must have the right to moderate and edit posts and they may at some point want to package content here for other purposes. In my mind, the most reasonable compromise may be to establish joint ownership and provide that either FT or the contributor has the right to reproduce individual posts in part or in whole and where the FT can edit or eliminate content it finds to be in conflict with its rules and conditions. But prior to firming any such conclusion I would want to see a legal opinion about what everyone’s rights are under current law.
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Old Oct 16, 05, 7:55 am
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I think it is much ado about nothing. This issue is the complaint of the day for the clique that cannot be made happy.
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Old Oct 16, 05, 7:58 am
  #4  
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I've seen discussion on this topic here at FlyerTalk and on other IBB's I frequent. And there seems to be no clear cut consensus. The owners of the websites usually put a disclaimer in their TOS stating that all posts belong to the website. Yet the posters/members often reject this claim and claim individual ownership.
Who's right?? I think the law on Internet publishing is still being evolved and that this debate hasn't been thoroughly run through the courts enough to determine legal ownership. And perhaps it'll always be a point of contention regardless of legal interpretation.
My personal opinion...and I'm not a lawyer....is that ownership resides with the individual posters/members regardless of what the TOS states.
An analogy is that you often see a sign in a car wash stating that "We are not responsible for any damages". That's been proven to be pure hogwash as you are not able to skirt the law by putting up a sign or by writing your own interpretation of the laws.
Bottom line, I'm in the camp that advocates individual ownership of what I write and until I see conclusive evidence to the contrary, that'll be my position.
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Old Oct 16, 05, 8:29 am
  #5  
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I don't think that most posters have much concern about this issue except perhaps a few who often write lengthy trip reports. Perhaps a reasonable compromise in TOS would be that posters own their posts but grant Flyertalk (and affiliated organizations) the right to use those posts in perpetuity.
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Old Oct 16, 05, 8:36 am
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Originally Posted by Cholula
My personal opinion...and I'm not a lawyer....is that ownership resides with the individual posters/members regardless of what the TOS states.
If that is the case, Cholula, would you agree that it would be advisable to modify the TOS to conform to the reality? If that claim truly is meaningless and provides FT with no protections, then why introduce the potential contention? I do not like slanted standard contracts. When buying cable TV with only one franchise to choose from, I might not have a choice. But a board such as this should be in partnership with its community and I would hope that the TOS would be constructed in such a way as to outline a set of rules that worked well for all and not to give the site everything it wants that the courts will allow.

Originally Posted by Cholula
An analogy is that you often see a sign in a car wash stating that "We are not responsible for any damages". That's been proven to be pure hogwash as you are not able to skirt the law by putting up a sign or by writing your own interpretation of the laws.
That sign is meant to protect the business and hopefully chase off uninformed consumers with valid complaints. I do not like applying any such analogy to FT and it suggests they are out to rob the user community blind whenever it suits them and they can get away with it. While it might not have any legal merit, I do not like that “gimme gimme gimme” mind set driving what should be a fair and equitable partnership that works for everyone.

Originally Posted by Cholula
Bottom line, I'm in the camp that advocates individual ownership of what I write and until I see conclusive evidence to the contrary, that'll be my position.
With all due respect (and I mean that honestly as you know you are someone for whom I do have an abundance of respect), since you are not a judge with a case pending, your assumptions or opinions on potential rulings and potential ownership have no bearing. The more pertinent question is, would you support changing the TOS for this site?
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Old Oct 16, 05, 9:02 am
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Originally Posted by Randy Petersen
This question was submitted by andre1970:

"What is your opinion on the current policy about the ownership of posts? Does it need furhter clarification? Do you think that this is an important or a trivial issue and why?"
Hi
Well lets look at what the guidelines currently say:

"Who owns my post?

For the sake of simplicity, we'd say that we own anything posted on FlyerTalk. Our reasoning is that we have the power to edit or delete any such post if we, representing the community, find it provides more harm than value to FlyerTalk. Also, if a member decides they no longer want to participate in the community, we would find it difficult to go into the database and delete each post an individual had made. Excerpts from posts to FlyerTalk may appear in InsideFlyer magazines, books, or other materials."

Now when you join FlyerTalk you agree to adhere by these guidelines. Now I can why Flyertalk wants to keep the right for the postings but I can all see why the posters want to keep that right as well.

What I would suggest is that if this is a major issue then a change to the Guidelines should be submitted to the FlyerTalk board and then put out to the membership to discuse and vote on. If I where on the board that is the way I would like too see it being handled.

regards RadioMan
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Old Oct 16, 05, 9:33 am
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The author of anything owns copyright unless he is paid for exclusivity or waives his right to it in writing. I have been a journalist, editor, and publisher all my working life, and that is a fact. Whether here or in Europe or the USA.

Write and submit a short story about your dog, or your holiday, your upgrade hell, or your sex life and send that to Reader's Digest. They will tell you if they publish it, and pay you $5,000, they'll then own exclusive copyright if you agree to that deal. THEN you have in effect sold or assigned the copyright away.

Anything you type yourself you own. Period. If I type a trip Report and post it here I am legally free to post it or sell it anywhere I wish at a later date. From over 25,000 FT posts only a minuscule handful would have been posted outside FT, but it remains my legal right to do so should I choose. If Randy sends me $1 a post they are all his for perpetuity.

FTs says they'd like for 'simplicity' to say they own copyright over what is published here. Nice concept, but there is no legal right whatever they have for that claim IMHO over anything I type. The accumulated contents of an active thread etc is of course a quite separate issue, as no single person types it all. The "entity" is a creation then effectively owned - and created - by Flyertalk. And one they have a rock solid right of claim over. Randy raised this recently with me re the very controversial Tireflock thread and he was 100% correct - I agree.

When Tireflock.com was closed down after publishing private FT PM's I decided to stand for this election. I wish that thread was required reading for every member that votes.

PM's sent via FT resources are also arguably copyright etc. Less precise and clear protection, but they'd have a good claim over that IMHO.

Copyright© is generally very simple in concept really.

A grey area is where say the WSJ night take a quote or report off FT from someone with a real name as a handle and publish it - OttoGraham or MatthewClement or MattWald as an instance. I do not know of a case where that kind of 3rd party use has created an issue, and most members would have no problem with it I am sure. I certainly would not. But legally it is a potential grey area.

Having said all that I would say copyright of posts concept effects virtually none of the 80,000 members of this board.
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Old Oct 16, 05, 10:11 am
  #9  
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Originally Posted by John C
If that is the case, Cholula, would you agree that it would be advisable to modify the TOS to conform to the reality? If that claim truly is meaningless and provides FT with no protections, then why introduce the potential contention? I do not like slanted standard contracts. When buying cable TV with only one franchise to choose from, I might not have a choice. But a board such as this should be in partnership with its community and I would hope that the TOS would be constructed in such a way as to outline a set of rules that worked well for all and not to give the site everything it wants that the courts will allow.
The TOS is in the process of being re-written. In fact, it's a document that will always be subject to change and revision. That's one of the things we reviewed at a moderator meeting in Chicago a few weeks ago. And there has been a committee, which I'm a member of, working on the re-write for the last several months.
I'm answering the questions posed here not as a moderator nor as a representative of FlyerTalk but simply as a candidate. andre1970 asked for our opinions and I gave him my personal take on the situation.


Originally Posted by John C
That sign is meant to protect the business and hopefully chase off uninformed consumers with valid complaints. I do not like applying any such analogy to FT and it suggests they are out to rob the user community blind whenever it suits them and they can get away with it. While it might not have any legal merit, I do not like that “gimme gimme gimme” mind set driving what should be a fair and equitable partnership that works for everyone.
I used the car wash analogy not to disparage FT but to point out that you can put whatever you want in the TOS but whether it stands up to a legal challenge is a whole 'nother issue IMO. The FT TOS is written with the best of intentions and reflects the rules, directions and requirements of FT's owner and administrators. There has never been any intention to mislead members by putting in clauses that were knowingly bogus.

Originally Posted by John C
With all due respect (and I mean that honestly as you know you are someone for whom I do have an abundance of respect), since you are not a judge with a case pending, your assumptions or opinions on potential rulings and potential ownership have no bearing. The more pertinent question is, would you support changing the TOS for this site?
Once again, my personal and non legal viewpoint is that a poster owns his/her words. But quite frankly, the ownership of posts was never a big issue to me and still isn't. It's not something I'm passionate about.
My answer to you here is that I'd like to see the TOS reflect the current law on ownership of posts no matter what that law states. And I haven't seen a definitive legal ruling for the ownership of posts on an internet bulletin board.

Cholula Disclaimer: I'm treading in an area here where I'm waaaaay beyond my level of expertise. My opinions are just that....my opinions.
And in the spirit of most threads on FlyerTalk, not being an expert in a subject does not prevent most of us from weighing in on it anyway.
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Old Oct 16, 05, 10:32 am
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Originally Posted by Cholula
And in the spirit of most threads on FlyerTalk, not being an expert in a subject does not prevent most of us from weighing in on it anyway.
That is perhaps the most accurate statement of the entire campaign.
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Old Oct 16, 05, 11:27 am
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Althought this may not be the popular view here, I believe that FlyerTalk should own all posts on this forum. I believe that any poster should also have the right & not be denied usage of his or her own posts either. If a user writes a Trip Report, for example, and types it into a MS Word file before posting it on FlyerTalk - then he or she is just reposting something they've already typed & owned and can claim ownership to it & is free to republish whenever they'd like.

The reason I believe FT should own all posts is moreso to protect its membership than to exploit it in the rare cases that a member wants to use his or her posts for personal reasons, such as publishing memoirs or something. As a moderator of the Mileage Run forum - I get a surprisingly large number of PMs or e-mails from reporters. This year alone, I've gotten at least 5 or 6 interview requests from reporters. Its not a hidden fact that reporters read this site - sometimes there are even legitimate request for interviews that they have submitted to Randy. Sometimes, its just a reporter who has joined FT & sends a PM to a user asking them to participate in an interview. Either way, reporters are out there & I believe that part of the reason that FT should own the posts is so a reporter can't just take the information & republish it freely. Even if an individual user owned the post - it'd be a lot easier to rip the information & reuse it than it would be if FlyerTalk - a larger entity with an stronger interest to protect its content - owned the post.

That said, I do believe that if a user would like to use the comments that he or she posted in their own private venture (i.e. a book or something), then they should be granted rights free of charge to their own typed content.

Lastly, although I don't know all the details, I recall a while back (over a year or so?), there was an FTer who had passed away & someone wanted to write about him and include posts that he had made on FlyerTalk. I believe that unless there was express written permission from the family, that FlyerTalk should not let anyone utilize the posts & that way it can continue to protect its membership.

So, to recap, I believe that FlyerTalk should continue to own the posts - from a business perspective it is important. As a TalkBoard member, we need to look out for not only the members of this site, but for the site itself - and I believe that its in FlyerTalk's best interest to own the posts & grant, free of charge, individual users rights to the posts that they have written. If a user doesn't want FlyerTalk to own his or her posts, then they don't have to post. It's as simple as that - although it may not be the answer you want to hear, that's what I believe.

And I'll add a Cholula disclaimer - I'm not a lawyer & these are my opinions.
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Old Oct 16, 05, 12:01 pm
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This is only able to be resolved with legal opinions. I suspect the best advise is:
"IF you want to retain control of anything on the internet, do not publish it"
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Old Oct 16, 05, 12:18 pm
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Originally Posted by CameraGuy
I think it is much ado about nothing. This issue is the complaint of the day for the clique that cannot be made happy.
I am a strong critic about cliques among the candidates. You might recall that I was the first one to expose that dirty little secret in this forum. However, your characterization of the clique in question is dishonest. It is no more accurate to refer to it as "the clique that cannot be made happy", than it would be to refer to the your clique as "the reactionary clique that wants to rollback all changes at FT". "People who live in glass houses . . . .", as the adage goes.

I think I've made it perfectly clear that I am not a part of either clique (or more accurately - any clique among the candidates). And I think the members reading this forum (even those that disagree with my views or style) understand that I speak my mind on the issues with honesty and candor. So I'll get back to question and do exactly that:

I have been expressing concern about this issue with folks on FT for a while before I ever considered running. It is not the complaint of the day for me. I found more than one member is concerned about this issue, some of whom were already concerned before I brought the matter up.

I felt it was important enough to mention in my platform. And, make no mistake, I still feel it is important. Like other posters in this thread I am not an attorney, but I do know that intellectual property law is complicated and there are many unsettled issues.

But suppose it was settled law - there is always someone willing to litigate just about anything. As a result, any hint of a copyright issue will greatly diminish the ability of an author to publish content. The vast majority of publishers do not have deep pockets. This is especially true for those publishers that are available to authors early in their career.

A lot of the members are involved in business. I ask them: What would you do if you had to make a decision on a project that might very well make you a profit, but also exposes you to litigation that may bankrupt you? I think it is clear how this can have a chilling effect on the ability to publish.

Now imagine that you are a professional (or even amateur) travel writer or photographer - Would you really want to jeoprdize your ability to sell your work by posting on FT? Do we want to loose valuable content because of a poorly written clause in the TOS?

I have no problem with giving Randy's related ventures the right to publish content from posts (after all he is a businessman, and he pays the bills around here). But I don't think we need to give FT exclusive rights to our content. Take a look at the TOS for other sites. You will find that FT is certainly a standout in how it views ownership. What does this say about FT?

But let's ignore even that . . . it comes down to this:

Posters put a lot of time and talent into producing content that aids the FT community, it would be downright unfair to deprive them of ownership of what they have chosen to share with us. It simply goes against what I believe that FT stands for. It is a mistake that should be corrected.

Last edited by VPescado; Oct 16, 05 at 1:23 pm
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Old Oct 16, 05, 12:25 pm
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Originally Posted by VPescado
Posters put a lot of time and talent into producing content that aids the FT community, it would be downright unfair to deprive them of ownership of what they have chosen to share with us. It simply goes against what I believe that FT stands for. It is a mistake that should be corrected.
Hi
We have seen on a few occaisions (that I know of) where in particual the BA Tesco thread that the information has been virtually copied word for word and posted onto other forums and I believe (I will apppologise if am wrong) that the original poster was never given any acknowledgement about this at all.

I have already expressed my views on what the board should do.

regards
RadioMan
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Old Oct 16, 05, 12:47 pm
  #15  
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It's a catch 22,

But I believe a clearly written TOS should solve the issue,

Content of the posts are the intellectual property of the poster however the actual post is the property of the website owner, in this case the website owner could not be held responsible what is said in the post however they may do what they wish with it (ie delete it)
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