Legal terms for community content


(Robert McIntosh) #1

Has anyone done any serious work on the legal Terms & Conditions of their community here?

Discourse comes with pre-packaged templates based on Creative Commons licenses, but those are heavily US-centric and if you are wanting to base your rules outside the US then it may not be appropriate or even legal.

I’m specifically thinking about the balance between content licenses that allow members to post and take responsibility for their content, balanced against the need for the community to protect that content from being ‘misappropriated’ by anyone else … whilst still allowing the community owners (often a commercial organisation) to re-use that content for promotional purposes.

For example: The standard Discourse licence is CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported)

This would seem to give all users (including the owners?) the right to share content for non-commercial purposes.

But what if you want to promote the community by re-sharing a great comment or conversation?
What if content in the community is carried over to social media by someone other than the original poster?

The alternative would be to give oneself the legal right to all content (… “grant to us a worldwide, irrevocable, non-exclusive, royalty-free licence to use, reproduce, store, adapt, publish, translate and distribute your content in any existing or future media”) but this smacks of taking advantage of members’ goodwill.

Has anyone else tackled this, particularly in the UK or other country outside the USA?


(Sarah Hawk) #2

This has come up many times but I am yet to find something definitive.

I heard a lawyer speak at a conference a couple of years back about copyright and our responsibilities as CMs. My notes on that talk are here. TL;DR if you are seen to be taking action of some sort via moderation then you’re probably ok. That doesn’t address what to put in your TOS though.

We also discussed it a while back here. That’s US-centric though, so again not exactly what you’re after.

@Steve_Combs weighed in with his thoughts here. He may have further things to add.