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Copyright Question

16 replies

RobA · 23/10/2004 21:29

The copyright page has the following on it:
"Once you have submitted material such as a letter, birth story, experience etc. to mumsnet either by way of the site, direct email, by post or fax, the material sent automatically becomes the copyright of mumsnet Ltd. This means that ownership transfers from you to mumsnet Ltd and you may not submit the same material to any other website or printed publication without our prior agreement."

Specifically, I'm interested in the "etc".

Does this mean that every forum post I write is copyright mumsnet Ltd and no longer copyright me? i.e. I can no longer use the same wording I used in a forum post here on any other forum without your written permission?

OP posts:
Spod · 23/10/2004 21:33

i didnt realise mumsnet copywrite-d this stuff actually, thought they would probably use the stuff that they ask mumsnetters to contribute to, like the parenting tips thing yesterday

charliecat · 23/10/2004 21:33

I read that and thought hmmm too

ChicPea · 23/10/2004 21:46

They publish a book with various quotes from Mums under various headings which I bought before I realised Mumsnet existed. It was very informative as the quotes are from real mums and not from child psychologists who don't even have their own children. By copyrighting the posts they have the right to publish them. Also, copyrighting protects them if somebody else wanted to use the material from this site. You can imagine how valuable all this information would be to somebody writing a book on various mums' experiences of raising children. Mumsnet would be silly NOT to copyright the posts.

GeorginaA · 23/10/2004 21:49

"You can imagine how valuable all this information would be to somebody writing a book on various mums' experiences of raising children."

They wouldn't be able to use it. Unless otherwise stated/signed away, copyright usually resides with the original author (i.e. the posters).

moomina · 23/10/2004 21:50

'Please note that mumsnet has copyright in all submissions to the chat board, and reserves the right to edit and re-publish these in print form.'

This is on the talk homepage. So, yes, all forum posts are MN copyright, I guess. I don't know what implications it has in reality if you wanted to post the same thing on another forum, though.

ChicPea · 23/10/2004 21:52

GeorginaA, maybe for the Mumsnet book which was published, Mumsnet emailed all the posters for their permission before they were published??

GeorginaA · 23/10/2004 21:55

No... in this instance Mumsnet does hold copyright - but if they hadn't stated that in the copyright notice the copyright notice would have reverted to the author by default. I'm just clarifying that another site would not be able to use the material legally without the author's permission had no copyright notice been displayed.

Of course, there's a contradiction already in that they have media requests that then use the information posted in those threads... presumably the fact they're paid adverts as such covers the copyright issues that way... I suspect Media threads are a legal grey area.

GeorginaA · 23/10/2004 21:56

argh... for that read:

"...hadn't stated that in the copyright notice the copyright would have reverted..."

ChicPea · 23/10/2004 21:59

GeorginaA, just nosing, are you a lawyer?

GeorginaA · 23/10/2004 22:00

No... I'm a writer ... so very aware of copyright issues

ChicPea · 23/10/2004 22:01

Ahah! Do you specialise in something?

RobA · 23/10/2004 22:02

Thanks moomina, I missed that.

"I don't know what implications it has in reality if you wanted to post the same thing on another forum, though."

The implication is that if you publish the same set of words that you used on MN first, then you could be sued by mumsnet Limited. (unless I've missunderstood the Copyright Act, of course!)

In reality, this is unlikely to happen for anything I write as it's not worth the legal cost to win Also, the "fair use" provision of the Copyright Act comes into play to confuse matters.

I'll just make sure that I reword slightly

OP posts:
moomina · 23/10/2004 22:06

That's actually what I meant, Rob

I should have said, as you have, that in reality it was probably unlikely to come down to you being sued if you posted the same stuff on another forum - as you say, not worth the cost/hassle etc to MN.

I just explained myself very badly - I should be the one to reword things properly!

GeorginaA · 23/10/2004 22:07

Not really.

I've done freelance documentation work and write regularly as a hobby (weblog, short stories, etc). Am hoping to seriously look into writing category romance fiction within the next few months.

It's funny. I come from a science background, worked several years in customer services (although always gravitated towards any writing projects going in the department - documentation, reports, etc)... it wasn't until I stopped working with ds1 I realised that I actually enjoyed writing for writing's sake.

GeorginaA · 23/10/2004 22:12

Interestingly, I wonder why mumsnet don't claim publishing rights rather than actual copyright... and what the legal connotations would be.

Publishing rights is what you sell as an author. If you sell your book, you don't (in most cases) sell your copyright, you sell publishing rights.

I suspect it's something to do with payments. If they gain copyright they don't have to pay us for the content.

(Incidentally, I don't mean to say I disagree with how Mumsnet handle this - I'm happy for them to get revenue any way they can to keep this very popular and useful site running. I'm just interested from an academic point of view)

Justine (mumsnet) · 25/10/2004 09:26

Thanks for raising this RobA. We claim copyright to give us the opportunity to use comments, specifically those made on Talk, for future projects like the books, the TV series etc. The wording is as supplied by a lawyer to us in the early days (jan 2000) but probably does need updating now because you are right, it's pretty inconceivable that we'd ever follow up anyone posting the same comment on more than one chat forum. It was actually on our "to do" list to update it but had slipped towards the bottom of it, so thanks, you've given us a timely reminder. By the way...if any kindly mumsnetter is a media lawyer and fancies drafting something for us - [email protected]. Thanks

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