Legally, should threads and posts by nonpaying past "members" be removed from SDMB?

Legally, should threads and posts by nonpaying past “members” be removed from the SDMB’s?

What are the legal precedents for keeping or expunging nonpaying ex-members threads and posts now that SDMB is a fee system?

The same question came up before, including an administrator’s answer.

I don’t think there’s any legal obligation for the SDMB to do so. Anything posted to the SDMB becomes the property of the Chicago Reader. As the little legal blurb at the bottom of the page says:

Chicago Reader ‘All your SDMB threads are belong to us!’

Everyone agreed to this when they signed on, so Chicago Reader can do exactly whatever it wants with old and current threads.

The administrator in that thread did not answer the legal issue in this OP.

What exactly is the legal issue? Would you care to articulate more clearly why you feel this is a problem, given that anyone who has posted here has agreed to the user’s agreement?

Captain Amazing gave the correct answer, but the question itself intrigues me.

SettingSun, what kind of legal problems were you envisioning with your question?

It appears to be related to this (although ‘related’ probably isn’t the right word - it doesn’t actually look all that relevant to the SDMB, which isn’t a university - I think the meaning of ‘fees’ and ‘forum’ might also be different)

In the past, the contributors to these boards were, in fact, governed by the non-fee contract, as stated previously above. This part of the complaint involves that past nonpaying contributors, under a new fee contract, never anticipated that their contributions would be utilized as a for profit purpose. One example is that only paying members will be able to search millions of posts, yet nonpaying past contributors will not be able search even their own post. Profiting from the contributions of past nonpaying members who contributed to a non-fee, public forum, may, in fact, be illegal without written permission from the contributors.

This is completely different. In the case sited, the state-run university was (is?) charging student an activity fee, and “students objected to a mandatory activity fee that is used, in part, to fund student groups whose ideological views they do not share.” SDMB is voluntary and private (unless Uncle Cecil is really Uncle Sam :smiley: ). Don’t matter if they charge or not, no legal reason for either keeping or expunging nonpaying ex-members threads and posts.

From the registration agreement:

I think this is rather general, and it’s not even limited to the board but includes anything published by the CR.

Sorry, but no. When you posted, you agreed to the Chicago Reader’s terms. It clearly states they can do whatever they want with it without payment to you. If they wanted to, say, gather a “Best of the SDMB” and sell the book, you’ve agreed to that.

Remember, whether someone makes a profit or not is irrelevant to copyright issues (except as one factor in determining fair use). The Chicago Reader does not have to do anything more from a copyright standpoint because they started charging.

At best, you might argue that you received no compensation for the publication rights you gave to them, but there are plenty of cases where authors are required to give away their rights for no actual compensation (small press magazines, for instance).

True. However, payment to contributors is not the issue. The SDMB contract has been modified from a non-fee to fee basis. The previous contract is no longer legally binding. The previous agreement was agreed to under the premise of a non-fee, public forum. What SDMB could have done is mute. The fact is, SDMB is now using threads and posts under a previous, defunct contract to gain profits. SDMB should have asked for written permission from past nonpaying contributors or removed their contributions. The previous non-fee contract does not and cannot be superimposed on the current fee contract.

No. When each post was made there was a valid contract to which both sides agreed and that is what counts.
Have you ever tried to return your stuff to a store because you found out that they changed the prices since you bought them?
The deal was made before and the conditions as they were at the time remain binding.
Now, if they were breaking the old agreement that would be a different story…

They are not separate contracts. The contract has simply been modified, and you acknowledged that the Chicago Reader could modify the contract when you agreed to it.

The Reader doesn’t need to ask for permission, because they own the copyright to the material (which you agreed to) and they haven’t broken the terms of the contract.

Besides, just think how confusing it would be to follow an old thread if all posts from people who are no longer members were removed. You’d only see a fraction of the original "conversation,"part of which would be current posters responding to points which had no longer been raised. It would be a huge pain.


Sure it is. It’s binding with respect to all posts that were made while it was in force. The fact new posts by paying members are being made under a differen agreement is irrelevant. In fact, I assume those terms still apply to posts made by guests.

Moot. Sorry, this is becoming a pet peeve of mine.

So? They specifically reserved the right to do so. Some stuff posted on this board has been used in gasp books!


Sez you. This really doesn’t make any sense. It’s not “superimposed.” Posts made under the old deal are governed by the terms of the old deal and posts made under the new deal are governed by the terms of the new deal. It’s actually quite straightforward.

Do you reside in the US? A contract is specific to its inherent terms and conditions. One contract cannot be a condition of another contract, in anyway shape or form, unless specifically referenced to the follow on contract. Waiting for the cite …

If I had a copy of the old rules, I’d cite them. As things stand, the new rules are almost identical to the old rules, and I’m pretty certain this particular line went unchanged during the transition: